Tip of the Day

Welcome to the Language Center’s “Tip of the Day.” It is our intention to offer one small tip or reminder each day on how to be effective in this new alternative instruction environment. We begin with Zoom, to help us all get up and running, but the topic can range to include anything having to do with teaching and learning in this new environment. We invite ideas, tips and suggestions from the community that can become a “Tip of the Day” for all of us. Please contribute comments to the posts if you like. We hope this is one way to help us stay connected in this time of social isolation.

Click on any of the images in the blog posts to enlarge them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

End of Semester

We thank you for visiting the Tip of the Day blog from the middle of March through the end of classes for the spring semester. We have published a tip each weekday, beginning on March 18, the first day of alternate teaching. In all, we have published 35 tips. To date, the blog has been visited over 1170 times. We hope it has been helpful and useful as we have navigated the unusual circumstances of alternate types of teaching and learning. 

Now that the semester instruction is over, the tips will appear less regularly, perhaps as "Tip of the Week" or more general:  "Tips for Online Language Teaching and Learning." We would love to get your input and your suggestions for future posts. If you have success stories from this semester or have developed activities that work well, please let us know and we can help spread the word. 

The daily posts up to this point will remain accessible on this site, and we will add more as we transition into the summer. 

For now, thanks for visiting, and we wish you all the best for a successful conclusion to the semester!


Friday, May 1, 2020

Ongoing Canvas Access for Students

As the semester comes to and end, instructors may take stock of the resources gathered in their course Canvas sites. Instructors may have collected more online resources for their students to use than they have in past, in-person semesters. (That’s certainly true in this blogger’s case!).

Would you like your students to continue to be able to access these resources? Good news! They can! Students will continue to have access to your course’s Canvas site, with the exception that they won’t be able to submit materials via Canvas. Which is hardly important since they will not have any assignments for the course.

There is no specific action that instructors need to take to allow students continued access to the Canvas site. All that needs to be done is to decide what the contents of the site are to be. Students will be able to access the site the same way they did all semester.


Hide your own video image in Zoom

As an instructor, you may get distracted by your own video in the Zoom window or get tired of looking at yourself. You can remove the display of your own video and still see everyone else.

Here’s how:

Hover the mouse over your own video window and click on the button with the three dots:



A menu drops down with options for your own video. Select Hide Self View from this list.



And your video feed will disappear, replaced by others’ in the gallery.

Now you can only see the participants in the meeting and can interact with them without being distracted by your own mirrored image.

Thanks to Kate Paesani for pointing out this tip.


Thursday, April 30, 2020

Allow Students to Share Screen in Zoom

It is often useful for an instructor to share their screen in zoom. In many ways it can be used like a projector is used in an on-site classroom. Instructors also have the option of allowing students to share their own screens with the group. Here’s how:

1. Click “security” on the toolbar.

2. Check “Share Screen” under the “Allow participants to:” options.



3. Students then click “Share Screen” on their own toolbar to share with the group.



Students will have the same screen-sharing ability within a breakout room as well.

This feature can be useful for having students do informal, practice presentations with their classmates, or for conducting a poster session where students are circulated from breakout room to breakout room, or perhaps simply for show-and-tell!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sharing Suggestions for Wrapping Up the Semester Virtually

As the end of the semester quickly approaches, our team at the language center would like to ask for suggestions on how to celebrate the end of the semester virtually. Instructors often like to do some sort of fun, informal activity as a send-off to students, or simply as a way to celebrate the semester.

Some suggestions from the LC team:
  • Create a screenshot of the gallery view of the class in Zoom and have students sign their picture, like a yearbook. 
  • Create a flipgrid where students share their thoughts on the semester. 
  • Play a Minnesota-themed game of charades or Pictionary. 
If you have any suggestions, please share! We would love to hear from you and to share your ideas in upcoming Tips of the Day! Please contact us at grif0050@umn.edu with your ideas. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Live Transcript feature in Zoom

The host of a zoom meeting can activate automatic live transcription. Currently, the auto transcription is only possible in standard English. Despite that limitation, instructors can use it to view and document any participant speaking in class in standard English. ESL instructors and hosts with meeting participants who are hard of hearing may find this feature particularly useful. A special "thank you" goes to ESL instructor Eric Nelson for inspiring this tip.

1. During a meeting, click on “Live Transcript” on the toolbar.



2. Next, click on “Enable Auto-transcription”.



3. As people speak, the live transcript will appear near the bottom of the video feed. Each caption will disappear after a few seconds.



4. In order to see the full written transcript, click the caret next to “Live Transcript”. In the resulting menu, select “View Full Transcript”.



5. The full transcript will appear in a window on the right (where the chat window is normally found).




While the accuracy of the transcripts is certainly not perfect, this feature can be useful in providing written documentation of the meeting.

For those teaching English as a second language, the transcription might be a handy check on pronunciation and provide a way for students to compare their speech with how it is perceived by Zoom.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Have Students Submit a Photo of a Written Assignment in Canvas

In some cases instructors may wish to see a hand-written copy of an assignment (as opposed to .doc, or .pdf, etc. formats). Canvas allows instructors to require that the format of the submission is a photo file (.png or .jpg in this case).

1. Create a new assignment in Canvas.



2. Scroll down to “Online Entry Options” under “Submission Type”. Select “File Uploads” and then “Restrict Upload File Types”. Enter the appropriate type(s) of files, again png and jpg in this case.



3. Click “Save” or “Save and Publish”, and you’re ready to receive photos of written assignments! Caveat: this process assumes that students are able to take a photo and save it in the desired format. That could certainly be demonstrated in class if need be.