• Teaching in Times of Disruption

    Faculty Information during Coronavirus Outbreak

    Teaching during times of potential disruption requires creative and flexible thinking about how instructors can support students in achieving essential core course learning objectives. This document offers suggestions for instructors at Worcester State University to continue offering a student-centered learning experience in a remote or online learning environment.

    While the process will no doubt feel unfamiliar and at times possibly frustrating, try as much as possible to be patient. There will always be hiccups, but times of disruption are, by their nature, disruptive, and everyone expects that. Be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, stay focused on making sure the students are comfortable, and keep a close eye on the course learning goals--while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course, you’re doing fine.

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  • March Pivot Training

  • March Pivot Training Sessions

    All of the sessions from the March Pivot Training can be viewed on-demand.

    Remote Training Sessions from Friday, March 13, 2020

    Module 4 Synchronous tools with Steven Oliver

    Topics include: Blackboard Collaborate, Testing

    Module 1 Getting Started and Personalizing BB with Nicole Rosa

    Topics may include: entry point to Announcements, Organization, Communication, Email, Announcements, Discussion boards, Grade Center, Evaluation/Retention Center

    Module 3 Asynchronous tools with Nicole Rosa

    Topics may include: Discussion boards, Posting content, Document with voice over, Videos created with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Pre-recording with webcam

    Module 2 Beyond Blackboard with Jeremiah Riordon

    Topics may include: Accessibility (closed captioning in Youtube), Google drive, Sharing content through blackboard (videos documents, etc) Google classroom

    Remote Training Sessions from Tuesday, March 17, 2020

    Module 3 Asynchronous tools with Margaret Kerr

    Topics may include: online quizzes, discussions, online exams, annotated voice-over lectures, organization of materials.

    Module 4 Synchronous tools with Steven Oliver

    Topics include: Testing – Respondus.

    General conversation about transitioning classes with Tona Hangen

    Module 2 Beyond Blackboard - Long Distance Advising with Syamak Moatarri

    Topics include: Advising.
    View Slide Deck

    Module 6 Gradebook tricks with Steven Oliver

    Topics include: Using Gradebook.

    Blackboard Remote Drop-In

    Open session to answer questions about Blackboard.

    Remote Training Sessions from Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    Module 5 Accessibility with Rosemary Ahmadi and Dave Needham

    Topics include: Using Ally and Testing Availability Exceptions

    Drop-in Session

    One on one consultation with Tona Hangen. More than one person can join each session.

    Drop-in Session

    One on one consultation with Jaime Vallejo. More than one person can join each session.

    Module 5 Accessibility with Rosemary Ahmadi and Dave Needham

    Topics include: Using Ally and Testing Availability Exceptions

    Zoom Basics Webinars

    Zoom Basics Webinar

    Topics include: Zoom technology and pedagogy of teaching with Zoom

    Low Tech Options For Remote Education Session from Monday, March 23, 2020

    Low Tech Options For Remote Education with Sarah Strout

    While some technology is required for remote education, this session will discuss some low-tech options for continuing your course and facilitate discussion about how you plan to transition courses to remote teaching using low tech options.

    Daily Q&A Sessions with Rosemary and Dave

    In order to expand Academic Continuity support, CTL and IT will offer a daily Question & Answer hour hosted in Zoom. This is a great time to ask questions about academic continuity, online learning, and Blackboard.

    Google Classroom Session from March 24, 2020

    Google Classroom: An Alternative with Tom Conroy

    Topics include: How students get into classroom, communication with students, posting assignments.

    Perusall - Collaborative Readings of PDFs Session from March 25, 2020

    Perusall: An easy program to do collaborative readings of PDFs, with Siri Colom

    Topics include: If you do a lot of reading in your class, this might be a good option. Perusall automatically scores students and allows for easy low-stakes assessment. Demonstration will show what the program looks like, and faculty can see how it works in a demo class where they are students. Email Siri Colom ( if you are interested and she’ll add you to demo class.

    Respondus Monitor Session from March 26, 2020

    Respondus Monitor with Amanda Cornine

    Long-Distance Advising Session from April 2, 2020

    Advising: How to advise during the time of disruption with Syamak Moattari

    A step by step guideline to conduct a long-distance advising session. A new version of the previous webinar.

    Using Starfish to Capture Student Progress Session from April 3, 2020

    Using Starfish to Capture Student Progress

    As courses shift to online delivery, capturing student progress can be a helpful tool in order to engage students in their academic success! Learn helpful ways Starfish can engage students through Progress Surveying, Flags, Kudos and so much more! Learn about new features and how Starfish can be for both courses and academic advising!

  • First Steps for Remote Teaching

  • Have a Plan

    Now is the time to plan how you will effectively communicate an unexpected change to alternate learning environments, whether by email or an announcement in Blackboard. For example, draft and save a sample email that explains how you intend to communicate and carry out the remainder of the course.


    Communicate with Your Students
    • Communicate early and often.
    • Now, download student email addresses so that information is readily available if you can not access Webadvisor or Blackboard immediately.
    • Test your communication tools in advance. You can communicate by email, Blackboard announcements, virtual office hours (Blackboard Discussion forum, Phone calls, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, Google hangout, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra).
    • Written communication should be concise and direct.
    • Decide how frequently you will communicate with students and share that schedule with them. Share your timeframe to respond to student emails and assignment feedback.
    Start with Your Syllabus

    Modify your syllabus to show how you will handle disruptions to academic continuity. Clearly state how you will communicate with students, what your changes to delivery method will be, and how you have modified previous policies (e.g. due dates).

    Sample Statement

    Not all courses are conducive to remote and virtual learning modalities, but we are committed to providing students an uninterrupted academic experience. I will email your Worcester State email [INSERT FREQUENCY/TIMETABLE] to communicate with you adjustments to our planned schedule, including additional materials, resources, and/or assignments.
    Be Realistic and Flexible

    Be realistic about what can be accomplished by you and your students in terms of learning objectives and technology considerations.

    Plan for the lowest common denominator of technology access and literacy among students. Keep instructional tools as simple as possible. Don't let perfection get in the way of delivering solid, basic solutions.

    As you plan, remember that these changes are guidelines for an unexpected emergency change in learning environments. Be flexible in course schedules and other priorities.


    Document Readability

    Ensure that all documents uploaded to Blackboard or other LMS are in a Searchable PDF format or a .doc format. Both of these types of documents will allow for different screenreaders to interact with the text. If you create a PDF from a Word Doc, it will be accessible.

    If you have images within your slides or documents, please include captions so that students utilizing assistive technology will be able to access that information.

    If you are planning to show videos or full length movies, please consider seeking materials that include a descriptive version. Netflix has started to include this feature on many of the films available through their platform. In addition, many DVDs also have this option on the main menu. Descriptive Movies provide additional narration to explain anything that occurs visually such as actions or gestures a character might do or an expression or emotion that is being given through visual cues such as crying.

    If you use automated captions and transcripts for classes, check the text before making those captions/transcripts available to students. Automated text on popular sites and apps like YouTube, is not always reliable and mistakes could be quite confusing to deaf and hard-of-hearing students.


    If you are giving an exam through Blackboard, there is an option to add extended time for students that require that accommodation.


  • Options for Teaching Remotely using Blackboard

  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?

    There are two options for instructors to facilitate class sessions remotely:

    1. Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
    2. Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each other over a longer period of time.

    Learn More: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

    Option 1: Classes Live via Blackboard

    The first option for shifting your classes temporarily online is:

    Run Your Class Live Through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

    This option works especially well for small discussion-based classes, though it’s also effective for large lectures, especially if you have a moderator.

    Learn More: Classes Live via Blackboard

    Option 2: Pre-recorded Lectures

    The second option for shifting your classes temporarily online is:

    Pre-Record Your Lectures Video: Presenting PowerPoint in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

    If you are not comfortable presenting live, another good option is to pre-record any lecture material and upload it to Blackboard. We recommend that you pre-record lectures using Blackboard Collaborate.

    Learn More: Pre-recorded Lectures

    Option 3: Skip the Video

    The third option for shifting your classes temporarily online is:

    Skip the Video

    Many online courses do not have a video component at all. If you are not sure you have the right equipment and are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option, at least for the short-term.

    Learn More: Skip the Video

    Identifying Key Tools

    Using Blackboard for Announcements, Sharing Material, Collecting Assignments, and Grading

    Many instructors already use Blackboard regularly for tasks like sending announcements to their courses, sharing course materials, collecting assignments, and giving students grades and feedback.

    Learn More: Identifying Key Tools

  • Options for Teaching Remotely with “Zoom”

  • Do This, Not That

    Info-graphic created by educational graphic designer Alison Yang about the do's and don'ts of asynchronous and synchronous learning.

  • Faculty Q&A via Google Group

    A new Google Group has been created for Worcester State Faculty to help each other regarding teaching during disruptions. Anyone from Worcester State can join the group.

  • Student Academic Support

  • Math Center Tutoring

    With the announcement that Worcester State will adopt a remote status, the Math Center will remain operational through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra beginning on March 30.

    All students enrolled in a math course supported by the Math Center will be added into a new Math Center Tutoring Blackboard course. During a scheduled tutoring session, a student can log in to Blackboard and click on this Math Center Tutoring course. They can then click Blackboard Collaborate Ultra on the left hand panel and join the appropriate tutoring session with the tutor for their course.

    Most tutors will continue to tutor at their regularly scheduled time, however a few tutors will not be tutoring during this remote time so please check the updated schedule posted on the math center website at

    Please make your students aware of this resource and have them email Elizabeth Gilbert at with any questions or concerns.

    The Spanish Clinic

    The Spanish Clinic will remain operational through Google Hangouts beginning on March 30.

    Spanish tutors will work remotely during their regularly scheduled shifts (Monday through Thursday 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.). Tutoring will be offered on a drop-in basis, similar to regular operations.

    Tutoring will be conducted through Google Hangouts with students' Worcester State email accounts. Tutors will be available at Students can conduct a chat, video call, or voice call with a tutor through this platform. To initiate a session, students should log into their Worcester State email and send a message to the Spanish Clinic. From there, students and tutors can coordinate how the session will proceed.

    Any questions should be sent to

    The Writing Center

    The Writing Center will remain operational through the Google platform (Mail, Calendar, Hangouts, and Forms) beginning on March 30.

    Writing Consultants will be working remotely during their regularly scheduled shifts (Monday through Thursday 9-6 p.m. and Friday 9-1 p.m.) to offer two online options:

    • Synchronous appointments. These face-to-face sessions will be enabled via Google Hangouts, the video calling format through Google Calendar.
    • Asynchronous appointments. These indirect sessions allow clients to submit their assignments and have them reviewed by a consultant within 3-5 business days. Students should submit their work using this link:
  • Library Information

  • Library Hours

    The Worcester State Library and the Learning Resource Center building closed on Monday, March 16. In anticipation of when the Library is scheduled to reopen, hours will be posted to the Library’s Hours of Operation page.

    While the physical Library is closed, many Library services continue to be available to remote users. Please note: given the uncertain and fluid circumstances associated with COVID-19, services are subject to change.

    Services Available to Remote Users

    Remote Library Services during COVID19

    For information on remote library services including links to new and expanded offerings including: three video streaming services with 100,000+ videos, and two ebook collections with 300,000+ academic books please visit:

    Other Services

    Library Services
    • Research assistance provided by WSU Liaison Librarians will be available via chat, email, and phone. Most services will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Instructional services will be available via videoconferencing. Contact Liaison Librarians for additional information.
    • Interlibrary Loan will be limited to electronic article requests while the Library is closed. Please note many lending institutions have closed and some materials may be unavailable at this time.
    • Physical items, such as books, currently checked out can continue to be used by Library patrons. Any overdue fines will be suspended during the Library’s closure.
  • Summer Institute

    The CTL hosted a virtual Summer Institute on May 14 and May 15, 2020 as a chance to debrief our experiences with the pivot to remote teaching in Spring 2020. View session recordings.

  • Perspectives on COVID19 Seminar Series

    The Perspectives on Covid19 seminar series featured WSU faculty who discussed COVID19 from the viewpoint of their specific disciplines. View session recordings.

  • Continuing the Conversation

    View a compendium of resources for continuing the conversation about teaching remotely in times of disruption.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Updated: March 20, 2020 3:00 p.m.

  • Remote Teaching

    What training is available for faculty to help move course materials to an alternative format?

    Training is on-going. Please check the Center for Teaching and Learning webpage for information on training information.

    How do I sign in to the VPN and use remote access for SPSS?

    Instructions for using the VPN can be found at:

    How do I use Blackboard Collaborate?

    Instructions for using Blackboard Collaborate can be found on the Blackboard homepage after logging in.

    How do I use Respondus Lockdown Browser?

    Instructions for using Respondus can be found on the Blackboard homepage after logging in.

    The Blackboard App is not working.

    We recommend using your browser on your mobile device to access Blackboard. Chrome and Firefox are the preferred browsers.

    How do I get technological help outside of regular business hours?

    Please submit a help-desk ticket, and you will be contacted as soon as possible.

    What should I do if I do not have access to reliable internet or do not have access to a computer off-campus?

    Charter/Spectrum is providing 60 days of free internet to households with college students.

    What software/hardware do I need on my home computer to continue teaching or learning?

    Faculty should not need additional software/hardware to continue teaching and learning besides access to the internet and basic software such as Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and/or Excel Sheets. Microsoft Office is available for free for students and faculty to download at:

    Faculty who need to use SPSS should follow the remote access instructions above.

    Student Concerns

    What if I have a student who does not have access to internet or software needed for the assignments?

    Faculty will need to be flexible and provide alternate arrangements for students who may not be able to access the internet or not have access to a computer or a specific software. Email or phone conversations may be the best way to make arrangements with these students.

    Charter/Spectrum is providing 60 days of free internet to households with college students.

    If I a student tells me they are in quarantine or is sick, what should I do?

    Worcester State has procedures in place to communicate to faculty members that students are sick or under quarantine. Please let your students know they should contact the Health Services department at 508-929-8875, Please note that no specific information is given, just notification of the absence for medical reasons.

    Faculty should notify the Provost’s Office if a student has told them they are under quarantine or have tested positive.

    I have a student who has accommodations through Student Accessibility Services. I'm not sure what to do with the transition to remote learning.

    Please contact Student Accessibility Services and we will find a solution to your concern. Please keep in mind that reasonable accommodations provide an equitable experience for a student with a disability, and anything that fundamentally alters your curriculum is not considered a reasonable accommodation.

    Fran Manocchio, or 508-929-8238

    Sharon de Klerk, or 508-929-8284

    Can students come to campus to use the Library and computer labs?

    The campus is closed to students and the general public for the foreseeable future, including the Library and computer labs. Many Library services continue to be available online. See the Library website for more information.

    Library and Course Materials

    Do I need to be concerned about copyright policies during this outbreak?

    “No. There's hardly any better "public purpose" that one can imagine than digitizing to allow people to self-quarantine, or to enable studies to happen while a public health emergency is ongoing. I would put it on par with accessibility by persons with disabilities in terms of the strength of the rationale, which is to say, I think it's as strong as it can get. You should not let copyright concerns get in the way of going full steam in supporting faculty and instructors and students on electronic access to study materials if your campus or instructors or students are facing campus closures, quarantining, or social distancing.”
    Laura Quilter, MLS, JD, Copyright and Information Policy Librarian, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    What should I do for students who have been using course reserve materials available in the Library?

    Please contact Jorge Brown, Access Services Librarian, ( to discuss options for continued access to course reserve materials.
  • Resources to Learn More

    View a compendium of resources for learning more about remote teaching for a variety of disciplines.

    Some content in this section adapted from: and Clark University Academic Continuity

    Thanks to everyone who helped compile this information.