Connecting F2F and Remote Students

We understand it’s something of a new challenge to provide a similar learning experience for both F2F and online students. There are some ways to make both groups interact better with each other and with the teacher and we hope that this message helps you to decide on the arrangements most suitable to your own classes for the coming semester.Please note that students have been told that they are not obliged to come to campus for classes if they do not feel comfortable with F2F classes yet, and we still have students overseas who will be depending on online teaching.

We have received the following concerns from colleagues and hope that the information provided is helpful.

How can teachers attend to both groups at the same time (i.e. in class and at home) during a lesson?

Software

The ITS integrated both MS Teams and Zoom into all our Moodle courses. Teachers and students can join the video meeting via those buttons. The two buttons are shown one on top of the other on each Moodle page/course. So both Zoom and Teams can readily be used by teachers. 

If you experience any problems with these Zoom and Teams buttons on Moodle, you can simply revert to the basic method for starting the Zoom and Teams by sending a link to your students via MOODLE email or other means.

Hardware

Not all our classrooms have cameras installed, and when there is a desktop computer with a webcam installed it restricts the teacher to the desktop position (in terms of movement). This is also true of many central classrooms, too.

  • Classroom hardware: The Faculty is contacting different vendors for getting quotations of high-end web camera & conference mic for 10 classrooms. We expect at least 8-10 weeks for the whole procurement process to complete.
  • Mobile: The Faculty has only just received central funding for 27 E-learning Backpacks (iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, and others) for our teachers to borrow and use. This will provide flexibility at home and in our classrooms in the coming academic year. Bookings will be advertised when the stock arrives. 

Student Helpers

The Faculty has recruited 12 e-learning student helpers to support teachers with online remote video meetings and to manage the mobile video meeting stations in classrooms etc. These helpers will start soon and we will provide guidelines for bookings. There will not be enough helpers to meet the requirements of every colleague, but we hope that they will be able to provide some support for specific sessions which may require additional or specialist help.

Where should we place the computer in class so that all students can see what is happening?

Position

We suggest that the best position to place the mobile video meeting station/notebook computer is where the camera can face the teacher for the majority of the time. 

What experiences/options are possible for those students studying from home?

We think these ‘remote’ students can best participate in online interaction by using online learning tools. The e-learning team can provide dual-mode learning designs for you but please give us some notice and time. Please contact us at elearning.edu@hku.hk for details of lesson design.

The option of live-streaming 

Live-streaming is a one-way broadcast experience that doesn’t provide for interaction.

Some suggestions:

  • Lecture: If your lecture is mainly using a PPT to present, we would suggest you pre-record the lecture and upload it as a video lecture.
  • Tutorial: The dual-mode session mentioned in HKU emails is mainly for discussions, Q&A, and classroom activities/tasks that require real-time interaction or which are simply not as easy or possible to conduct online. We should use online learning tools to conduct those activities. It seems strange to ask F2F students to join online activities when they are actually in the classroom, but it is the only way to connect our F2F students with students studying remotely and the teacher. You can click here to see which software might fit your learning activities. 
  • BYOD for classroom students: We think students who participate in classroom learning should ‘Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)’ to interact with online students working from home/remotely. Students should also bring their own earphones to prevent audio feedback loop.
  • Dual-mode learning design: The e-learning team is here to provide consultation for your dual-mode learning design. Please contact us at elearning.edu@hku.hk​ to discuss these possibilities. Colleagues will also be able to book student helpers to help conduct dual-mode activities (details to come and these helpers will be working directly under the e-learning team). 

There have also been some updates from Gray the Common Core Director and from HKU on ZOOM and specifically on ZOOM security which we would like to include here. 

As for online teaching, students often find recordings of Zoom sessions useful as they can review online discussions and presentation afterwards. As an alternative to Zoom, we might also consider using Panopto which is managed by ITS and requires HKU portal login. (The download function can be disabled so there is no need to worry about populating the class list to other platforms.) Please see below and go to https://tl.hku.hk/teachonline/ for more information.

Zoom Security

(With thanks to Mathew Pryor, ADTL, Architecture)

Recording of Zoom sessions (and other online communications) has proven to be popular.  Many students have noted (in SETLs etc.) that they very much appreciate being able to review online discussions and presentations afterwards.

There are potential privacy concerns with recording online activities and we would recommend that instructors should state at the outset of each course (in the course outline, on the course Moodle site, etc.), and repeat during the semester, that:

  • Online class sessions will be video / audio recorded;
  • That those records will be kept securely by them;
  • Recordings will only be made available to registered students of the class – this might be via Google Docs / One Drive / Whatsapp (Moodle does not have capacity for large-sized files).  [Note: the security of the storage and access arrangements, especially for students outside HK, should be carefully considered.]
  • Students will only be permitted to use the recordings for purposes related to the course; and;
  • Any student with concerns over recording should speak directly to the instructor / programme director, to find a suitable arrangement that allows for their participation without unduly compromising their privacy.  

[Note: video records are often edited to cut out blank / irrelevant sections or to reduce file sizes, so it would be possible to omit discrete sections, say a one-on-one discussion between the concerned student and the instructor, but this may require a lot of time and effort.]