Teaching Tips for Interesting Times


I don’t want to inundate you with emails, but here is some random information that came through my inbox that might be helpful as you roll out your online offerings. Feel free to ignore if it doesn’t apply to you.

All the best,


Setting up Skype for Business as a lecture platform (prepared by Suzie Lavallee)

  1. In Outlook, create a new ‘meeting’ time that spans the desired lecture time. In the settings, make sure to select the options you want for that meeting. For example, I selected that only the presenter (me) could have video visible during the presentation.
  2. Send the presentation link to yourself. Copy the specific meeting link to your Canvas page as a hyperlink behind text that explains when the meeting is (e.g. “Click here to join the Tuesday lecture (11:00 – 12:30)”)
  3. On the Canvas landing page for your course, make sure to provide instructions to students on how to join the meeting.
    NOTE: they will have to download the Skype for Business APP (NOT the desktop version). This will not require an institutional sign in.
    I also specified to students that they should leave their microphones on MUTE so that they aren’t creating a huge background noise. If you want to be really tough, you can prevent them from sending audio altogether, communicating only by chat.
  4. At the specified time, join the Skype for Business meeting and use the ‘Share Desktop’ option to show your slides. Make sure you don’t have anything private (e.g. email) showing in the display to students (easy to control).

Zoom virtual backgrounds

Helpful tips from our friends at Applied Science on running labs

  • Film an instructor or lab technician doing the lab and either post the video or live stream this to students depending on class size. The students can then be asked to write up a modified lab based on what they observed and any data they are provided with. This option is somewhat time consuming, but might be suitable for very intricate labs where the process and the use of the equipment would best be showcased with video.
  • If the lab uses relatively familiar equipment (from the student perspective) consider a Powerpoint slide deck that has annotated still images and video clips only where they are truly needed for clarity. A TA may be able to help compile such a document.
  • If the filming process would be very lengthy or unmanageable, or would not add value, consider providing students with sample data for the experiments and allowing them to do a modified lab write up of some sort that preserves data analysis and error analysis components of the lab (and other components that you feel can easily be done remotely).
  • In cases where a simulation activity could replace a physical activity (such as with electronics labs), consider modifying the lab so that students could complete a learning activity remotely using available software.
  • In cases where labs have been running all term long and only have a couple of labs left, and where the value in the syllabus for remaining labs is low, consider cancelling remaining labs and using the labs already completed to determine the grade for the lab portion of the course or move the weight to other assessments. Under the current circumstances, this will be deemed allowable under the Senate Syllabus policy. If a student feels that such a step would negatively affect their outcome in the course in a substantive way, they do have the right to appeal, and these would have to be considered on a case by case basis. If you have a couple of labs left and feel you could modify one, consider cancelling one and assigning only what you can reasonably convert to a useful activity for the students.

Rob Kozak

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