Extended Classroom

In the current environment, certain circumstances might require you to extend your class online with minimal notice.

This guide provides you with some suggested actions to take quickly when making the shift from teaching in a classroom to teaching remotely. It is a live resource and will be updated regularly. It is a guide only; it is important to also speak to your Unit Convenor and College for further information.

For general information, please see the VU website coronavirus (COVID-19) response page.

Building on the principles of the Block, in the event that you may not be able to come to class, we want to continue to foster a sense of belonging for our students. We want to mirror our pedagogical approaches online.

We are fortunate that our Block units and most others will already have all resources and assessment information available to staff and students in VU Collaborate, but there is more you can do.

Below are some FAQs. More details and templates for download can be found in the Remote Learning Module on VU Collaborate Essentials. 

Download virtual backgrounds for your Zoom Meeting

Here you can find backdrop images for your Zoom Meeting.

  1. Click a slider with your college name below
  2. Preview an image, right-click and "Save Image as.." to download.
  3. To add a backdrop to your Zoom session, do the following:
    virtual bg start

    virtual bg add image

If your Zoom virtual background feature is not enabled, follow the steps outlined in the document below:

Please be aware: 
Not all PC or Mac processors are able to handle Zoom virtual background feature. If you are on older computer systems or your processor doesn't meet the requirements, you might not be able to use virtual backdrops and consider utilising your home natural background.

Here are two helpful links from Zoom Support about Zoom System Requirements and Upgrading or Downgrading Zoom app version.

Connected Learning

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Generic Backgrounds

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College of Arts & Education

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College of Engineering & Science

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College of Health & Biomedicine

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College of Law & Justice

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College of Sport & Exercise Science

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VU Business School

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Moondani Balluk

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First Year College

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VU College

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VU Research

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Employability and Success

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Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success
Zoom Virtual Background for Employability and Success

Library

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Zoom Virtual Background for Library

Plan B for the Block

If you need to teach online, we suggest keeping to usual class times and days. In preparation for this, academic teaching staff should:

  • Ensure all materials are up to date and available on VU Collaborate
  • Prepare a clear communication plan for your students (see below)
  • Run online classes at scheduled class times (see below)
  • Ensure that, where possible, all assessments can be submitted online (see below)

Communicating with students

If students and staff are unable to come on campus for some time, communication is critical. You are a student's key contact at the University, so you need to be prepared with your instructions to students.

To support online study, you will need to:

  • Post a news item with any changes to the class schedule or mode i.e. online vs face to face
  • Send out a short questionnaire to check in with your students about their readiness to study online
  • Schedule replacement online classes in VU Collaborate
  • Create a discussion forum for questions about the new mode
  • Post a message at the start of each teaching day indicating what students need to do
  • Post a message at the end of each teaching day with a wrap up of the day’s activities and what they need to do to prepare for the next

Example: News post

Hello everyone,

From [insert date] some or all of us will be studying and working from home. I hope we can learn together how best to support each other to do so.

First of all, all the materials that you require to learn and complete your assessment tasks are already online in VU Collaborate. All due dates remain the same unless I advise you otherwise. To continue this class online I have:

  • Scheduled 11 online classes during our regular class times, see the links below and in each session in VU collaborate.
  • Created a dedicated discussion forum where you can post and share responses about this (link to discussion).
  • Please subscribe to the discussion forum as I will be posting daily updates about what you need to do each day to be successful in this unit (student help guide for discussions)
  • Updated my consultation hours to mon, Tues and Thurs 9-11am, you can phone me on 9919.....

In preparation for this change, I ask you to please:

  • Keep in contact with me and your classmates
  • Fill out this short questionnaire (link)
  • Subscribe to the discussion forums
  • Join the online classes early to get set up
  • Ask for help if you need it

Ok, bye for now, see you in the next online class [insert link]

Here are are some student help guides for participating in online classrooms.

Example: Questionnaire for students to support their online learning

Are you ready to study online? Respond to the questions below.

  1. Do you have reliable internet and a computer at home in case we need to shift online?
  2. Does your computer have a camera in case we need to use Zoom for online classes?
  3. Do you have any accessibility requests for me regarding online teaching (for example, readings available in a different format, transcription of conversations, specific approaches to discussion boards, or a preference of video discussion vs. discussion boards)?
  4. Do you have any suggestions for how we can teach this unit remotely?
  5. Are there any barriers to your learning that we haven’t mentioned above?

Please let me know if you need help accessing any resources, including basic needs (food, shelter, medical care), psychological care and counseling, childcare, a ride, or access to technology and I will connect you to appropriate services.

Note: There is a sample survey in the Remote Delivery module in VU Collaborate Essentials that we can copy to your unit site.

Example: Start of day news or discussion post

Hi everyone,

I hope you are well. Today we have an online session at 11am, please arrive on time and mute your microphone until we get started.

Before the session it’s important that you do the pre-class activity for session 2 (insert link to VU Collaborate session 2). We will be discussing this in class and it is required for the next assessment.

See you at 11am!

Example: End of of day news or discussion post

Hi everyone,

Thanks for a great session today. When you have finished today's post class activities, I want you to respond on the discussion forum with one thing that is still unclear to you. And, as we mentioned in class, it’s important that you meet up with your group online to plan for the assessment. By this afternoon you should have chosen your topic and made a plan for the presentation.

Please let me know if you need any assistance with your group assessment.

See you on Thursday.

Teaching online classes (synchronous/live)

Teaching Online Classes (Synchronous/live)

We recommend that for UG units, especially first year, you run online classes at the scheduled time to assist students to keep to their study routine.

1. Which software is available to run online classes?

Schedule Zoom classes through VU Collaborate.

2. Do I need to run an online class for every class I have scheduled?

We recommend that for UG units, especially first year, you run online classes at the scheduled time to assist students to keep to their study routine.

3. Does the online class need to go for three hours?

No. You need to support students to complete all the activities that you would usually run in a three-hour session, particularly group work activities. We recommend a targeted online session followed by self-directed learning for learning that does not require collaboration. Followed by a wrap up online room as well. Make sure you post a wrap up discussion or news post at the end of the day. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book an appointment with Connected Learning to assist you with this.

4. Can I do group activities in an online classroom?

Yes, with Zoom you can use breakout rooms, which simulate group work in an online environment. You can join groups one by one to monitor. See guides here.

5. Is an online class the same as a face-to-face class?

Not entirely, but many principles are the same. For example, you need to:

  • be prepared
  • “arrive” early
  • greet students when they enter the online room via voice or chat
  • establish ground rules about how the class will run
  • demonstrate on screen what you are referring to by sharing your screen
  • actively question students and guide discussions
  • foster a positive, safe and inclusive environment
  • facilitate learning through active student participation and inquiry – it’s an online classroom not an online lecture.

Some things are different:

  • you may need to mute students when you or other students are talking for everyone’s comfort (e.g. to avoid hearing breathing or typing)
  • you must be ready to assist students with their sound and microphone or ask students to help each other
  • you may need to take student questions via chat to prevent confusion with multiple people speaking at once
  • We recommend using two screens to facilitate your session if possible

6. Do I have to run every class as an online class?

Not necessarily, with appropriate communication and instruction you can facilitate self-directed, self-paced learning (see below). However, for UG units, in particular first year, we recommend facilitating synchronous online classes at the scheduled time.

Teaching self-directed online classes (asynchronous/not live)

Preparing for online self-directed learning (asynchronous/not live)

In addition to the live ‘online’ class, allow time for students to explore content through asynchronous self-directed learning.

To support students’ learning via self-directed learning, make sure you provide sufficient resources and activities with clear instructions for what needs to be done and when. You will need to:

  • A start of day discussion or news post with clear instructions for the self-directed component
  • Running a one-hour synchronous online session, for collaborative tasks, to respond to student queries and to maintain student engagement
  • Allocate time with clear instructions for the self-directed activities
  • A wrap up online room n end-of-day post asking students to post a response to a short question to maintain engagement

9. Do students need to be online for three hours?

Not necessarily, but the student load should be the equivalent of a three hour class plus pre- and post-class activities.

10. How can I support students in an online self-directed session?

Lots of ways! Keep reading.

11. How can I keep a sense of energy, class community and belonging if students are studying in their own time at home?

  • Set up synchronous consultation hours, where students can phone you or drop into an online room for a chat
  • Post the hours in News so that everyone knows when they can contact you
  • Post a start of day message at the start of each teaching day indicating exactly what students need to do (alternatively you could upload a short voice message recorded on your phone)
  • Post an end-of-day message at the end of each teaching day with a wrap up of the day’s activities and what students need to do next. Ask students to post a short response to a question on the discussion forum

12. How can I improve my VU Collaborate site to suit self-directed online learning?

  • Communicate clearly via News (see help guide here)
  • Ensure all resources are up to date and in the correct week/session with links that work
  • Write explicit instructions for each session for what the students need to do by when and how long you expect it will take
  • Switch to student view and read through your instructions from a students’ perspective- does it make sense?

13. Can I pre-record part of my class as a resource for students?

Yes! You could record a mini presentation using Panopto.

  • Record yourself presenting on a topic for a maximum 5 minutes. It is better to record videos in bite-sized (topic) chunks, rather than attempt a single 1 hour lecture style recording, (research demonstrates that students often stop watching after approximately 6 minutes)
  • Use your phone to record a video with the Panontop app, see video guide here

What is synchronous and asynchronous?

Guides and help

Step by step Zoom guides

Information about training sessions

Zoom guides for students

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book a Connected Learning Officer to attend your first online session.

Assessment

Assessment

14. Can students still do group assignments?

Students can still collaborate remotely, using shared documents such as OneDrive and Google Docs and online meeting tools like Zoom and Skype.

15. Are students still able to do presentations?

Presentations can be facilitated in an online classroom such as Zoom.

16. My unit has large exams in the showgrounds, what can I do?

If you have been informed that your exams will not be running or are unlikely to run, we recommend modifying assessment tasks in consultation with your course chair and Connected Learning. To make an appointment to meet with Connected Learning to discuss your assessment, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

17. I can’t run my assessments online, what should I do?

In certain circumstances, it may not be possible to conduct your assessments online, for example, if the assessments require a specialist laboratory. We recommend speaking to your course chair, then booking an appointment with Connected Learning to discuss your assessment requirements by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Connected Learning can help!

Book an appointment with Connected Learning for assistance with assessment, communication, and facilitating online learning by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Contact us remotely - LiveChat is available from the VU Collaborate homepage Mon - Fri 9-4 pm

Come to a training session, view the training calendar here. These sessions are available virtually.

Book a one-on-one remote session for VU Collaborate help.

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Student help guides