Archive Version of e-Notes

e-Notes

2009/09/01

TACKLING THE FLU WITH TECHNOLOGY

Although e-Learning Center staff aren't trained medical professionals, we still have a role to play in flu preparations. How? We can teach faculty how to post materials online and use communication tools to help ensure continuity in classes even if a high percentage of students—or faculty—get sick.

Use the Tools at Your Disposal
What can faculty do to prepare for flu season? Start by using the following NAU-supported tools.

Blackboard Vista
Bb Vista is NAU's learning management system. Contrary to popular belief, Bb Vista is not just for online courses. Every class at NAU has access to a Bb Vista "shell" where instructors can post the class syllabus, calendar, lecture notes, handouts, assignments, quizzes, and exams. It also offers discussion boards, whiteboards, and chat rooms where students and instructors can communicate about the class. The e-Learning Center offers in-person and online training in Vista Basics as well as a number of workshops focused on specific Bb Vista tools and practices, such as Assessments, Assignments, and Communicating with Students.

iTunes U
iTunes U is an easy way to distribute podcasts, which can consist of recorded short audio lectures or video demonstrations about key topics in a class. Students can download the podcasts to a portable device, such as an iPod or other MP3 player, allowing them to view or listen to the podcasts from anywhere. They can also use the podcasts on a computer. Podcasting tutorials are available, and the e-Learning Center offers training in podcasting.

classlists.nau.edu/faculty
This tool automatically generates an email mailing list of all students on a class roster. Instructors can use it to send email to all students in a class without having to use Bb Vista mail, which isn't available to students until the first day of class. It's especially handy for creating a Welcome message that gets sent to individual students as they enroll in the class, but it can also be used to communicate with students who might not be checking their Bb Vista mail regularly.

Elluminate Live!
Elluminate is NAU's web conferencing tool. It has audio, video, and whiteboard features, and live Elluminate conferences can be recorded for future viewing. It can be used from within Bb Vista via a PowerLink or as a standalone tool. Students and instructors can participate in Elluminate sessions from wherever they have access to a computer: dorm room, home, computer lab, library. The e-Learning Center offers training in Elluminate.

You can also use blogs, wikis, and Twitter to communicate with students, although these aren't yet officially supported tools at NAU. See our related blog post.

Ask for Departmental Training

In addition to our regularly scheduled training offered at the e-Learning Center, we are happy to prepare customized training for academic departments. Contact us to schedule a flu-preparedness workshop at your location. We can also offer training via Elluminate to faculty at NAU's extended campuses and statewide locations.

Take the Steps to Get Ready

  1. Post all class materials online in your Bb Vista shell.
  2. Create podcasts of demos or key lecture topics and post them in iTunes U, linking to them from your Bb Vista shell.
  3. For asynchronous communication with students, use Bb Vista mail, discussions, and announcements, or for communication outside Bb Vista, use classlists.nau.edu/faculty.
  4. For synchronous communication with students, schedule Elluminate sessions or Bb Vista chat sessions to allow students to communicate live at a distance.
  5. Know how to use selective release in Bb Vista to give sick students extra time to complete assignments or exams.
  6. Know NAU's policies on incompletes.
  7. Be flexible in your absence policies, and give students the benefit of the doubt about illness, as requested by the Provost.

Ask for Help

The e-Learning Center's Faculty Help Line is a great place to call or email for help in using these tools. You can also find answers by looking at our Frequently Asked Questions and our Tutorials. If you need one-on-one assistance, schedule a consulting appointment with one of our instructional technologists or instructional designers.

Stay Informed

For more information about the oncoming flu season, see the following sites to learn how to prepare for a possible outbreak of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus—or regular flu, for that matter: