Educational innovation, development and discussion at ETH
ETH Moodle App
We are proud to announce the brand new ETH Moodle App for Android and iOS available today! This app has been developed by the core developers of Moodle and is a specially branded version of the official Moodle App.
Please click on the link below to download the app:
Students and lecturers can access all their courses directly from their smartphone or tablet. This access has several advantages:
You only have to login once for days and weeks at a time.
You can download courses and access them offline.
If you post an answer in a forum or solve a quiz during while offline, the course will be synchronised when you are online again.
You can include audio, video and pictures from your phone easily into your forum answers, messages and even assignment responses.
The app uses GDPR-compliant push notifications for important dates (yes the Moodle calendar is placed directly on the start screen), messages and forum posts.
Similar but not equal
Although your course looks similar in the ETH Moodle App, there are some important differences (especially important for lecturers to know):
There is no edit possibility to the course via app. So, if you want to edit your course, please use the web browser.
The app doesn’t display any blocks (which you can add to your course individually).
Some activities are not Moodle App ready yet (or not meant to work with the app). In those cases students (and lecturers) are forwarded to a web browser. At the moment the following activities are not app ready:
Do you already use Moodle and have you ever wanted better options for capturing simple digital drawings as part of a quiz? An improved freehand drawing question type is now available for ETH lecturers.
type is called “Freehand Drawing (ETH)” and works on any computer device.
Generally, touch-devices with hardware pens (styluses) work best although
drawing with a mouse or a touchpad works as well.
Creating a quiz with a Freehand Drawing question
Start by creating a quiz in Moodle. Quizzes can include any number of any question types.
new question into the quiz, using “+ a new question.”
question type “Freehand drawing (ETH)”.
Insert a title
and write a task or a question for the students to solve. This is the standard
text editor used all over Moodle. In this example, we have asked a question
about charging a capacitor where we want the students to sketch the electric current
as a function of time.
Note that a
lot of students do not own large-screen touch-devices, so we cannot expect detailed
or precise drawings. Use of the question type thus should be limited to “sketching”
or “drawing,” not precise activities like “graphing.”
students get a white background to draw on. You can also create and upload a
background image using any drawing tool. In the following example, a coordinate
system was created using PowerPoint. These drawings can help
your students literally by framing their answers and in the end help you
grading them by standardising aspects of the image.
Upload your background image to your question. You can
simply drag and drop your file into the provided field.
If it is a big image, make sure to reduce the size so
it fits on the student’s screen without scrolling. While the tool allows for
horizontal or vertical scrolling, this can be awkward. Also, keep in mind that
Moodle itself will take up some space for its navigational elements – a width
of 500 pixels is reasonable.
preview your question, using the “preview” button:
Answering a Freehand Drawing question
can then answer the question as shown in the example below:
drawing was made with a mouse. The precision of this drawing is at the limit of
what should be expected, but one can clearly see what’s going on: exponential
drop-off, starting at U/R. For the axis label, students could also have
used the typing tool. Other tools include a simple line tool and an eraser.
would then submit their drawings as their answer. Answers need to be graded manually,
just like essays answers.
Practice makes perfect
more and more students possess convertible or tablet devices with touch screens
and pens, drawings are still more often made using paper and pencil. If you intend
to use Freehand Drawing on exams, it is important to give your students time
and opportunity to practice using it. If you already use Freehand Drawing questions
in your lecture during the semester, the students have had time to practice at their
individual pace and can get acquainted with the question type.
This question type will be piloted for use in future examinations. The devices used for mobile exams at ETH have touch screens and hardware pens, which work well with this question type. If you are interested in using the Freehand Drawing question type in an online exam, please contact email@example.com.
Learning Autonomy with Self-Driving Cars: Duckietown goes MOOC.
Jacopo Tani and Andrea Censi are senior assistants in the research group headed by Emilio Frazzoli (D-MAVT), an internationally renowned specialist in autonomous systems. Together with Prof. Liam Paull of the University of Montreal, they lead the Duckietown project, which was conceived at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2015. The goal was to build a platform that was small-scale and cute yet still preserved the real scientific challenges inherent in a full-scale real autonomous robot platform. Duckietown is now a worldwide initiative to realize a new vision for AI/robotics education. It teaches participants to programme autonomous vehicles to navigate a structured environment using rubber ducks as the passengers of the vehicles, and has now been used by over 80 universities in 23 countries worldwide. Their next endeavor is to create a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs) focused on the science and technology of autonomy through the lens of self-driving cars. In this multi-institution project, ETH will take leadership and develop the first course of the MOOC-series.
will the MOOC be about and what do you seek to achieve for participants?
The Duckietown MOOC series will be about
autonomy, or how to make machines take their own decisions to accomplish
broadly defined tasks. This topic is both intellectually fascinating and very
timely given the rapid progress of robotics and AI technologies in our daily
lives. Autonomy will be studied through self-driving cars, an application with
disruptive social potential.
Participants will engage in a sequence of
software and hardware hands-on learning experiences whose particular focus is
on overcoming the challenges of deploying robots in the real world. Our hope is
that participants will gain useful skills and come to appreciate and understand
the challenges of this technology, while at the same time having lots of fun!
motivated you personally to make a MOOC?
The Duckietown project was developed to make
the science and technology of autonomy accessible to the broadest possible
audience, not only to those learners lucky enough to have access to premiere
educational institutions where these topics are addressed. Building a
Duckietown MOOC experience was a logical step towards achieving the mission of
the project. We are grateful for ETH-Innovedum supporting our efforts and
extremely excited to bring our vision for learning autonomy to the world.
are the unique didactic challenges?
Teaching autonomy requires a fundamentally
different approach compared to many computer science and engineering
disciplines. There is extensive and diverse preliminary knowledge needed to
really comprehend autonomy from the “pure” mathematics and physics to
“modern” machine learning based approaches. Moreover, robots are real
world machines, and theory and practice do not always play well together. To
see the theory work in the real world it is necessary to translate the
knowledge in software architectures, and deploy them on hardware platforms.
Finally, there is a proliferation of hardware platforms and software tools out
there, each with its own peculiarities, strengths and shortcomings. It is not
always clear what tools are worth investing time in mastering, and how this
competence will translate to different platforms.
How will you overcome these challenges?
To address these barriers of entry to learning
autonomy, the MOOC “Self-Driving Cars with Duckietown” will have several
distinguishing features, namely:
topic progression The sequence of topics in the courses is determined by asking the
question: “what is the most we can make our robot do, with the least
amount of prior knowledge?” instead of “what is the best order to
explain things?”. As learners progress through behaviors of increasing
complexity to reach the final objective, it becomes naturally necessary to
introduce new concepts and tools to address limitations to previous behaviors.
This approach allows students to jump right in “the middle of things”
(getting Duckiebots to do things!) and gradually re-iterate concepts through
the various technical frameworks and implementation solutions that are so very
important to align the theory with the practice, leading to a stronger
comprehension of the how and why things happen.
hands-on learning on a standardized platform (the Duckiebot) with open-source
industry-widespread software tools This is a robotics and AI MOOC where every participant will have the
opportunity to follow along by doing real world experiments with their own
robot at home. The Duckietown framework was designed, from the software stack
(i.e., Python, ROS, Docker) to the Duckiebot and Duckietown city, to make the
course accessible for all learners, both pedagogically and economically.
evaluations of hardware assignments
The last, but not least, distinguishing factor of this MOOC is the use of
remote facilities (the Duckietown Autolabs) where reproducible performance
assessment of hardware assignments is conducted in controlled environments.
This feature enables remote grading of hardware assignment, which, to the best
of our knowledge, is a first ever for a robotics MOOC.
Like to know more about Autonomy with Self-Driving Cars? Course starts at January 15, 2021 and will be published on the edX-platform.
Inspired to start your own MOOC project? Please have a look at our website and contact Marinka Valkering to discuss possibilities!
Prüfungen am Computer (Online-Prüfungen) bieten viele Vorteile gegenüber herkömmlichen schriftlichen Prüfungen. Sie können oftmals authentischer gestaltet werden, indem Studierende in der Prüfung mit Programmen und Ressourcen arbeiten können, die sie auch in den Übungen oder später im Arbeitsalltag verwenden (z.B. durch eine eingebettete Programmierumgebung). Je nach Aufbau der Prüfung ist auch eine (teil-)automatisierte Bewertung möglich, die bei grossen Kursen eine massive Arbeitserleichterung für die Examinatoren bringt, bzw. ein Assessment überhaupt erst möglich macht (z.B. bei MOOCs).
Voraussetzung für Online-Prüfungen ist eine abgesicherte Umgebung am Prüfungscomputer, die während der Prüfung nur den Zugriff auf erlaubte Ressourcen gestattet. Hier kommt die Open Source Software Safe Exam Browser ins Spiel, die seit über 10 Jahren existiert und inzwischen international von zahlreichen Bildungseinrichtungen eingesetzt wird. Der Safe Exam Browser ermöglicht nicht nur die kontrollierte Absicherung des Prüfungscomputers, sondern erlaubt auch das Verwenden ausgewählter lokaler Programme oder die Freigabe von bestimmten Webressourcen.
Für die Version 3 wurde der Safe Exam Browser (im Folgenden SEB abgekürzt) einem umfassenden Refactoring unterzogen. Der SEB wurde von Grund auf gemäss aktueller Standards neu programmiert. Die prinzipielle Funktionsweise wurde dabei beibehalten. Wesentliche Änderungen wurden «unter der Haube» vorgenommen und sind vor allem technischer Art.
So wird nun beispielsweise als Browser-Komponente anstelle der Mozilla Gecko Engine die Chromium Engine verwendet. Die Erkennung von virtuellen Maschinen als Laufzeitumgebung wurde verbessert. Es gibt erweiterte Funktionen zur Kontrolle der Browser-Session durch das Prüfungssystem (für die SEB-Moodle Deeper Integration). Und die Zusammenarbeit mit Antivirenprogrammen wurde weiter verbessert.
Aber auch die Benutzeroberfläche wurde modernisiert. Neu verfügt SEB über ein «Action Center», ähnlich dem aus Windows 10 bekannten Seitenmenü. Man kann nun beim Umschalten zwischen geöffneten Applikationsfenstern mit ALT-TAB wie unter Windows üblich kleine Vorschaufenster der geöffneten Applikationen sehen. Ausserdem wird die Arbeit mit Tablet-PCs besser unterstützt.
SEB wird weiterhin in Versionen für Windows, MacOS und iOS angeboten. Und mittlerweile wird für Windows neben der 32-bit auch eine native 64-bit Variante bereit gestellt.
Der volle Funktionsumfang aus SEB 2.4.x wird mit der Version
3.2 zur Verfügung stehen. Dies betrifft etwa den Zugriff auf die Webcam durch
Webapplikationen (mehr Details dazu in den Release
Zudem sieht die Roadmap für die Weiterentwicklung von SEB vor,
das mitgelieferte Konfigurationstool in Übereinstimmung mit dem
Konfigurationstool des SEB
Server zu überarbeiten, sowie die Integration mit weiteren Learning
Management Systemen zu verbessern.
Engaging students through technology enhanced Feedback
Teachers’ written commentary on student assignments is a fundamental
element of instruction in almost any discipline. However,
it is unclear what impact the feedback has on students. Consequently, teachers
face fundamental questions for which no ready answers are available: Which
components of commentary are most helpful, and how are they most effectively
delivered? How can students’ uptake of commentary be optimised, and how can
teachers be most efficient when providing commentary?
Giving and receiving feedback with Edword
Edword is an assignment feedback tool that provides answers to these
questions; it quantifiably improves the quality and efficiency of commentary
and its uptake and measures
previously unobserved aspects of learning. Edword is an online
platform to which students can upload written assignments of any kind set by
Teachers can then add commentary to the text. These comments can be written individually as done in many traditional teaching settings, but Edword also enables the rapid application of prewritten comments from comment sets. These comment sets can address any aspects of written work in any discipline. They can be prepared by teachers working individually or shared between colleagues in teams.
Because they can be adjusted and augmented, a comment set can evolve as individual comments are added and improved. The quality and level of detail that can be delivered within the time available for commenting on assignments is thus substantially increased.
When the student opens the commentary, the most important comments,
selected by the teacher, are presented first and repeated comments bundled so
that the student sees every instance of the same comment in the assignment.
This allows the teacher to optimise individual students’ uptake of their
commentary. Edword enables further optimisation by measuring two aspects of
students’ engagement with the comments: the time the student spends with each
individual comment is automatically recorded, and the student gives one of
three responses—helpful, neutral, or unhelpful—to each comment. These data points
are automatically collated by comment and assignment to provide a fine-grained
evidence base for further adaptation of comment sets and commenting practice to
the specific requirements of programs and disciplines.
Successful pilot project
Edword’s suitability for use with UZH and ETH students was tested in a pilot project between February and May 2020. Writing instructors from the English unit of the Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich (LC) attended a LET Refresh Teaching event at ETH on 4 September 2019 where selected EdTech startups from the Kickstart Accelerator program presented their tools; here, they were introduced to the Edword online writing assessment tool. Seeing its potential, four writing instructors collaborated with LET and ran a pilot project to test Edword in their courses comprising 167 students in all. The instructors created and shared comment sets containing a total of over 350 specialized comments. The participating students were surveyed online about their experience with Edword at the end of their courses (response rate 32%). Some 87% said they preferred commentary via Edword over traditionally delivered comments.
Potential for broader application at ETH
The feedback processes in Edword can be used to provide highly nuanced and sophisticated commentary for any kind of written assignment, and comment sets can be adapted to the demands of any discipline. The comment sets can be written centrally or developed collaboratively or individually, and the uptake of commentary is monitored in detail. Further test groups can demonstrate the range of academic contexts in which Edword is applicable. Please contact Melanie Walter if you are interested in trying out Edword in your ETH course.
Die Nachfrage für die Durchführung von Prüfungen am Computer steigt beständig. Damit verbunden wachsen auch die Anforderungen an die technische Infrastruktur. Langjährig bewährt hat sich bereits der Safe Exam Browser, der eine abgesicherte Prüfungsumgebung auf zahlreichen Endgeräten ermöglicht. Ergänzend dazu wird aktuell an der ETH Zürich in der Abteilung LET (LINK) im Rahmen des Swiss MOOC Service Projekts der swissuniversities die Server-Applikation «SEB Server» entwickelt, um die technische Vorbereitung und Durchführung von Online-Prüfungen zu vereinfachen. Schlüsselfunktionen des SEB Servers sind die zentrale Konfiguration der SEB Clients für einzelne Prüfungen, sowie die einfache Prüfungsadministration durch eine direkte Anbindung an betreffende Learning Management System (aktuell für Open edX innerhalb des Swiss MOOC Services). Ausserdem ermöglicht SEB Server eine zentrale Steuerung und Überwachung der SEB Clients während der Durchführung der Online-Prüfung.
Ein Einsatz des SEB Servers ist grundsätzlich in allen Online-Prüfungsszenarien sinnvoll. Vorteile bringt er insbesondere bei Remote-Prüfungen (z. B. bei MOOC-Kursen), aber auch bei Prüfungen in Räumen der Lehrinstitution auf privaten Endgeräten der Studierenden («bring your own device», BYOD). Hier bietet der SEB Server Funktionalitäten, die ansonsten nur schwierig oder gar nicht zu erreichen wären, beispielsweise die automatische Verteilung der SEB Client Konfiguration oder das Monitoring der verbundenen SEB Clients während der Prüfungsdurchführung
Der SEB Server ist ein Open-Source-Projekt und basiert auf aktueller Java Enterprise- und Docker-Technologie. Er verfügt über Mandantenfähigkeit, d. h. es können mehrere Institutionen innerhalb derselben Server-Instanz verwaltet werden. Weitere nützliche Features sind eine Template-Verwaltung für SEB-Konfigurationen, sowie eine mehrstufige Benutzer- und Berechtigungsverwaltung. Details finden sich auf der GitHub-Projektseite und in der Online-Dokumentation.
Im Juni 2020 wurde die Version 1.0 des SEB Servers veröffentlicht. SEB Server wird künftig noch um Schnittstellen zu weiteren Learning Management Systemen erweitert. Insbesondere eine Moodle-Integration steht hier im Fokus, daneben sind Integrationen in weitere System wie ILIAS oder OpenOLAT möglich.
Zu den neuen Entwicklungen im Bereich des Safe Exam Browsers informieren wir demnächst
in einem weiteren Beitrag im LET-Blog
Deeper integration. Moodle and Safe Exam Browser take their relationship to the next level
For many years, ETH has been using two open-source software projects: Safe Exam Browser (SEB) and Moodle are the foundation of online assessment at ETH Zürich. They work together seamlessly but the management of SEB configurations is somewhat complicated. With the brand-new release of Moodle 3.9 in early June 2020, the integration was improved significantly to support a number of different online exam scenarios. For example, in a bring your own device (BYOD) scenario admins now have the possibility of enabling teachers to configure SEB settings directly in a quiz. Admins can manage templates of SEB settings that are provided to teachers via the quiz settings in Moodle.
A development project between two open source communities
How did this come about?
In 2017, a
member of LET was on sabbatical in Australia and visited Moodle’s headquarters. During this visit, the idea arose that these two popular open-source
solutions should work together on a deeper level. Together with the Moodle team
at Bern University of Applied Science, the Moodle team at ETH Zürich planed a
development project and wrote user stories. During this phase, it became clear,
that the estimated amount of work could not be handled by these two
A crowdsourced project – eight universities and two companies acted in concert
Usually Safe Exam Browser has to be configured via its Config Tool. In Moodle 3.9 teachers can do this directly in Moodle and for each separate Quiz activity. This is extremely helpful for e-assessments in a BYOD scenario. There is no need to provide a separate SEB settings file to students before the exam anymore. As students access the quiz, Moodle hands out the SEB configuration file and SEB is reconfigured as required by the student’s device. This means teachers can set a different SEB quit password for every attempt, configure different additional software for different quizzes, and because it is that easy to configure you can consider using SEB in formative quizzes to help students to focus.
project was challenging in many ways. There were many different stakeholders, tight
deadlines, two big open source communities, and different locations and time
zones. Here are the most important learnings.
Joint projects are possible but need
an intense discussion in the community. Only about 30% of all interested
institutions were able to invest in the project.
Scenarios and user stories are
excellent methods for creating a shared understanding of the requirements and objectives
between all project partners.
To prevent endless discussion, identify
one or two strong partners, create provisional scenarios and user stories and
then reach out to the wider community.
Communication over different time
zones is challenging (especially if you have weekly sprints) but manageable. Be
mindful to share recordings and keep an active chat channel alive.
When faced with obstacles (such as
lack of funds) think out of the box and search for allies, that are willing to
pursue the same goals as you. There is almost always a solution.
Despite the challenging nature of this project and the different needs of stakeholders, the objectives were met. It was a pleasure to have been part of this joint community project together with Moodle HQ and SEB core team. We are sure the outcome of this project will bring online assessment to a new level.
The new Moodle
version can be downloaded here. The
Safe Exam Browser is available here.
Many useful lists provide technical recommendations for optimising virtual meetings (here is one from the IT Services Team at ETH Zurich. In this short post, though, I will go one step further. In video conferencing we are, quite literally, “hosts”. This makes us responsible for managing the behaviour of others, especially if it is disruptive. In this context it is important to communicate our expectations clearly. This requires us to consider our own requirements and the needs and circumstances of those participating in our virtual sessions, and to find a balance between them.
Teaching involves relationships, firstly between lecturers and students, but also among students themselves. Therefore, effective facilitation addresses the needs inherent in human relationships and how we can respect these in the virtual environment.
Let’s look at some key aspects to be considered:
Eye contact conveys attention and interest. (Keep in mind here that some cultures prefer to avoid direct eye contact.) If you wish to transmit a sense of eye contact, you can do this by looking directly into the camera and not at the face of the person you are talking to, even if this means that you yourself lose eye-contact. One tip is to minimize the facial images and move them to the top of your screen, near your camera. Your gaze is then close to the camera, but focused on faces.
Many video conferencing tools allow participants to change the name displayed alongside their image. Consider asking students to adjust this to their preferred name. “SmiJo” is a lot less personal than “John Smith” or even just “Johnny”.
To build rapport, take the time to make people feel acknowledged and welcome at the beginning of a virtual session. Create space for “warming up” with smalltalk before launching into the reason for the session. Depending on the size of the group you may wish to greet individuals by name when they appear, even if they are late. If the group is large, you can still acknowledge latecomers en masse. Trusting that their reasons for being late are legitimate will help to create an atmosphere which is conducive to learning.
Think about how you want participants to manage sound. Is it important to minimise background noise? The more participants there are, the more distracting background noise can be. However, in smaller informal settings, ambient noise can help people feel connected – an important consideration the longer we are in physical isolation. Agree on how the mute button should be used.
A common belief is that all participants should switch on their cameras when joining a Zoom meeting. However, this may be difficult for various reasons: attendees may not have a camera; there may be other people around; or their bandwidths may not be able to cope with video. Some people are also profoundly uncomfortable with displaying themselves on camera for long periods.
Lecturers should therefore consider why they want students to turn their cameras on. Then they should articulate their expectations, and consider equally acceptable alternatives. Do cameras really need to be switched on? If so, is that for the whole meeting? For example, if the meeting is long, but not particularly interactive, the lecturer might ask the students to turn their cameras on at the beginning to “establish contact”, but say that it’s OK to switch them off later. This might be especially relevant if everyone is viewing slides, for example. Using “hide self view” can also minimise the cognitive fatigue we are all experiencing due to the increased frequency of online meetings and length of time spend in video conferences.
Remember that not everyone thinks about how they appear on screen: it may be useful to give people feedback and guidance in this area. Their lighting may make their images too dark to see, or if the video is flickering it can be hard on the eye after a time.
The background displayed on the screen can be both informative and distracting. Students may choose virtual backgrounds to obscure a messy room or one that reveals things they prefer to keep private (such as family photos or an extensive wine collection). If their choice of background is too distracting you should let them know. Conversely, you can use the virtual background function as a way to connect. Ask people to share a photo of a place meaningful to them, or an image that provides comic relief!
As the host, when you view a gallery of many faces your eye will naturally be drawn to movement. If people join via mobile phone or tablet, they are likely to be more mobile and may move around in their spaces. This is sometimes unavoidable, but it can be very distracting. Make participants aware of this and ask them to deactivate their screens if they change positions or if they are moving around a lot.
Think about the best way to use the chat function. Will you be monitoring it actively, or not at all? Would you like people to use the chat to announce their departure from the session? Most video conferencing tools offer multiple ways to communicate. Tell your students how you want them to use them.
The intention of this post was to encourage you to think broadly about how you run a virtual meeting or lecture as well as how you manage your own on-screen behaviour. Our available technology provides us with so many options, but these sometimes generate divergent behaviour. Here establishing fair expectations will go a long way towards facilitating a successful virtual event.
Enthält Ihre Veranstaltung Programmieraufgaben? Würden Sie
gerne die Studierenden in ein und derselben Umgebung während des Semesters
Programmieraufgaben lösen lassen und diese Umgebung dann auch in der Prüfung verwenden?
Möchten Sie ausserdem Ihre Programmieraufgaben in der Prüfung mit anderen Aufgabenformaten
wie Freitext- oder Multiple-Choice Aufgaben kombinieren?
Mit dem Abschluss der einjährigen Pilotphase von Code Expert
ist dies nun für alle interessierten Dozierenden möglich. Mit dem Update des
Prüfungsservers auf die Moodle Version 3.7.4+ steht Dozierenden der neue Moodle
Fragetyp «Externer Fragetyp (ETH)» zur Verfügung. Mit diesem Fragetyp kann eine
Aufgabe innerhalb eines anderen Systems über eine LTI -Schnittstelle in ein
Moodle Quiz eingebunden werden. Im konkreten Fall mit einer Aufgabe in Code Expert.
Code Expert ist eine browserbasierte Lern-
und Programmierumgebung die am Departement für Informatik (D-INFK ) entwickelt wird.
Der Moodle-Fragetyp «Externe Verbindung (ETH)» wurde In einem gemeinsamen
Projekt der Abteilung Lehrentwicklung und -technologie (LET) und des D-INFK entwickelt.
… and just like that, ETH Zurich has moved its teaching online. The buildings are empty, much like the streets outside. But teaching and learning continues, just in a very different way.
The response to the global pandemic has been swift. With very little time to prepare, an almost complete switch to online teaching and learning has taken place. At the time of writing, many lecturers and support staff are still working hard to put systems in place so that students can continue studying despite neither students nor lecturers having access to their lecture halls.
This is a challenging situation, and the transition has been demanding for students and lecturers alike. The technology has struggled with the sudden increase in traffic, and this has caused some downtimes or sudden changes to IT services on local, national and international levels. The new scenario has required flexibility on everyone’s part.
What follows is a list of key points to help you prioritise your decisions as you move your teaching online.
Check in with your students
They will be personally, financially and emotionally affected by this crisis. Attending your lectures remotely may no longer have the same priority it used to have. Communicate your care for them. Ask them what’s going on. Download the email list from eDoz so that if all else fails, you can stay in touch.
Find out if your students have accessibility issues. Do they have new obligations (such as childcare or care for elderly parents)? Do they have children at home now? What do they prefer: a recording of your lecture, or live streaming? Do you share the same time zone? What kind of internet access and bandwidth do they have? How can you optimise live attendance, recordings and other downloads for them? They may need subtitles on your recordings if they have hearing issues. Ask them. What suggestions can they offer?
Work backwards by first thinking about your course’s performance assessments. What is the minimum that students need to do to pass? Even if you do nothing else, make sure to communicate this minimum to them and tell them where to focus their efforts. Clarify the graded assignments and provide the necessary study material. Keep ETH regulations and policies in mind, but also expect more updates on them as the pandemic continues. You may need to develop additional creative ways for students to submit their work. For example, poster sessions may need to become homemade videos.
Prioritise your course’s learning objectives
What are the most important competences your students need to acquire? What skills should they practice? What knowledge do they need in order to pass? Focus on helping students achieve these goals and cull anything that is superfluous. Now is the time to become ruthlessly efficient. Help with writing learning objectives is available here.
Minimise your direct input
Resist the impulse to simply transpose your existing lecture materials to an online format. This is not just about moving what worked in a classroom to an online space. Watching a two-hour video of your lecture will be hard for students. Instead, create shorter sequences (think of TED talks!). Mix up your media, and complement your lecturer recordings with video conferencing, reading assignments, slide sharing and contributions from guest speakers. Follow up with an engaging task that makes your students think about and apply what they have just heard.
Build in interaction
Plan different ways for students to get active. Use discussion forums, online group activities, peer feedback or clicker questions and polls. Interaction can be synchronous (in real time, all together, for example via video conference or online chat) or asynchronous (at the students’ own pace, for example via a video recording of a lecture or participation in an online forum). Your course should deploy a mixture of both.
Talk to others
There are many different ways to share your experiences and the challenges you face. You are not alone! ETH offers the following platforms for you to communicate with others.
Different DIY scenarios for remote teaching are posted on the ETH website.
Many lecturers, both at ETH and globally, are using Twitter to exchange ideas. Use the hashtag #ETHZonline to share your experiences.
Which tools to use
Try to stick with standard ETH tools, because you can access support for them.
If your department has an Educational Developer (find out), contact them for advice on both technology and didactics. Alternatively, contact LET Support by email or by phone between 8:00 and 18:00 on +41 44 632 06 65.