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Remote Learning Guidance for Students

Last Updated: 09/09/2020

This guide provides students with information and resources for using technology to continue participating in class activities remotely, when in-person instruction is disrupted due to an emergency.

General Guidance & Support Resources

Your instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) should update you about which technologies they will use this semester. Please contact your instructors with questions about expectations for participating in class remotely.

Student Emergency Funds

Student Affairs is offering limited Student Emergency Funds to support CU Boulder students facing temporary financial hardship due to COVID-19. Learn more and apply for Emergency Funds.

Internet Speed Information & Recommendations

Whether you have applied for a federal grant for technology through the CARES Act and are looking for information on how to spend that money appropriately, or you just want to make sure your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) connectivity meets the minimum standard for remote learning success, these recommendations can help point you in the right direction.

Most Common Types of Internet Connectivity offered in the United States: 

Broadband connections are run over a cable infrastructure, i.e. Coaxial Cable, Optical Fiber, and/or Ethernet.

  • Cable connectivity offered by Comcast/Century Link are very common and offer technical help in setting up the connection. 
  • Speeds range from 25Mbps to 150Mbps for download and 1Mbps to 25Mbps for upload. Generally, this type of connectivity is considered optimal, since speeds of over 25Mbps can offer multiple people in a single residence better than good performance. 

Cellular connections are run over a wireless “cell” infrastructure and are provided by companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

  • Speeds can range depending on the service you are connected to. These services are upgraded in an evolution, as carriers roll out better speeds over time. The most common is 4G LTE and in some metropolitan areas 5G is being adopted, though speeds are limited to your device’s cellular chipset. 
  • Speeds range from 5Mbps to 12Mbps for download and 2Mbps to 5Mbps for uploads, but will vary depending on congestion and signal to the nearest cellular tower. 
  • Connecting a wireless enabled computer to a cellular device (e.g. phone or hotspot) is typically done by creating a wireless network and then connecting that device to the shared SSID or wireless network name. 
  • OIT does not recommend that these types of connections be shared between more than one user at a time. 

Base Recommendations for your Internet Service Provider (ISP) of choice: 

  • Because Zoom is the remote learning collaboration tool you will use that is most reliant on consistent internet connection, your ISP’s speed should match Zoom’s minimum bandwidth requirements. Zoom's System Requirements include at least a 3Mbps connection to take advantage of basic and advanced features.
  • Test your ISP's connection using CU Boulder's speed test site. Make sure to close extra tabs in your browser and quit any unnecessary applications before you click the Start button to begin the speed test. Be sure to test from the computer you plan on using for schoolwork and make sure it is connected to Wi-Fi or a hotspot. Any result in the download gauge showing speeds near or above 3Mbps should be acceptable. 
  • Connectivity doesn’t meet the threshold? Contact your ISP and talk with them about what internet options are available. Most broadband companies have offered increased speeds and plans that are more reasonable to meet the demand remote learning and working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Internet Access Resources

There are several resources available for students that need assistance getting/upgrading internet access. 

CU Boulder Students in a Sprint service area:

  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement is working with units across campus to identify students who do not have computers and wifi hotspots to complete their academic responsibilities. ODECE is working with OIT, Property Services and the Libraries to supply a limited number of refurbished computers and wifi hotspots to students who demonstrate financial need. Please submit a laptop request on behalf of a student if the they lack resources for such hardware.

Resources in Colorado:

Resources in the United States: 

Laptops for Students with Demonstrated Need

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement is working with units across campus to identify students who do not have computers and wifi hotspots to complete their academic responsibilities. ODECE is working with OIT, Property Services and the Libraries to supply a limited number of refurbished computers and wifi hotspots to students who demonstrate financial need. Please submit a laptop request on behalf of a student if the they lack resources for such hardware.

Accessing Your Courses on Canvas

Visit the Canvas - Student Support page for resources on how to access your courses on Canvas, download the Canvas Student App to access features on your mobile device, and obtain additional help. Your instructor may share course materials with you online including readings, links to external websites, videos, assignments, etc. 

The Canvas Student Guide also provides step-by-step how-to’s on various Canvas features your instructors may use in their courses.

Communicating with Your Instructor

Your instructors will let you know which communication tools will be used in their classes, including their expectations for how you will be using each tool.

Communication using Canvas
  • Announcements: Your instructor may post course information and updates directly in Canvas. They may appear in the Announcements tool, on the course homepage, or on your Canvas mobile app (iOS/Android).
  • Inbox: Use the Canvas Inbox to send an email to your instructor and other students in your class.
  • Chat Tool: Your instructor may use the Chat Tool in Canvas to have text-based, real-time interactions with your entire class.
  • Notifications: Did you know that you can adjust the notifications you receive from Canvas? Review the Canvas notification settings to learn more.
  • Zoom Web Conferencing: If your instructor holds class, office hours, or other class meetings online, they might do so over Zoom. In that case, they will share a Zoom link with you through Canvas, email, or the class syllabus. 

Attending Class Remotely

Reach out to your instructor with questions regarding expectations for participating in class remotely.

Zoom

Zoom is a web conferencing tool that can be used on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Zoom has a number of helpful features, including screen sharing, chat, recording, annotation and more.

iClicker Reef

You will need to create an iClicker Reef account to participate in clicker questions during your live online course. Create an iClicker Reef account using your IdentiKey (CU Login) name, @colorado.edu email address, and name as it appears in Canvas. During class, you will need to login to the account, and check in to the course to answer clicker questions using a web browser on your home computer. You can also log in on a tablet or a phone, but you will need to install an app on the device in order to do that.

Get Started:

Tips for Remote Participation

When attending class or other meetings online, remember these tips to make sure you can hear and be heard: 

  • Use headphones or earbuds with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise to improve the quality of your voice. Any headset and microphone combo will provide a better experience than a microphone and speaker built into a laptop.
  • Connect to your class or meeting about 5 minutes before the start time, so that you can make sure everything is working as it should.
  • Mute your audio input when you are not speaking to minimize background noise for everyone in the online meeting.
  • Limit the number of other devices connected to your wireless network to avoid a weaker wireless connection.
  • If your Wi-Fi connection is poor, turn off the video to improve the connection. You can also try using a hard-wired ethernet connection if possible.
  • If you are having audio issues, call in to the meeting. 

Environment

  • Sit at a table in a quiet and private environment. Limit distractions around you since you’ll need to be able to hear and focus on class.
  • Avoid sitting in front of a brightly lit window or a moving fan since this makes it difficult for your classmates and instructor to see you.

Behavior and Appearance

  • Even though you are attending class online, treat the experience as if you were attending class in person.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Mute your phone and keep distractions to a minimum (e.g., make sure pets are put away, close the door to the room you are in).

During Class

  • Remember to mute or pause any notifications or sounds from your computer. If you need to flip through papers, take notes, type, sneeze, etc., mute your microphone so that others are not distracted.
  • Check in with your instructor and classmates if you cannot hear them or you think they cannot hear you. Determine if you might need to speak louder or quieter.
  • Pay attention and resist the urge to multitask. Treat class time as seriously as if you were physically present. Be prepared to respond if you are called on.

Watching Online Lectures

Your instructors might have you watch recorded lectures online and will share a link with you via their Canvas course, email, or the class syllabus.

Look for features to adjust playback settings such as slide zoom to focus on the content of a presentation, skip back, playback speed adjustments, search functions, etc. With lecture recordings, you can go back and review concepts and topics that you might have missed or were challenging the first time around.

Interactive videos in PlayPosit

Your instructor may use PlayPosit, an interactive video tool that allows the addition of questions, text prompts, or images over the video content. Refer to the PlayPosit Knowledge Base for students for information about how to use PlayPosit.

Participating in Discussions

Instructors may use various technologies to simulate in-class discussion and peer interaction. Look out for specific instructions for participating in discussions. If you are unsure, ask for clarification from your instructor.

Canvas Discussions

Your instructors may use the Discussions feature in Canvas to hold asynchronous (or not in real-time) online discussions. Refer to the following tutorials for help with discussions in Canvas:

Get feedback on presentations or performances using Canvas Studio

Canvas Studio allows instructors and students to collaborate using video and audio media. Canvas Studio can be used to facilitate student engagement with one another, with their instructor, and with the content they are learning.

Students can record themselves giving a presentation, practicing a speech, or giving a performance within Canvas Studio. Instructors can share videos they want students to have discussions about as students view the video independently. Videos can be recorded directly in Canvas or uploaded from a local file or YouTube. Once a video is uploaded to Canvas, students can add text comments to videos that appear in a discussion section below the video.

VoiceThread

VoiceThread is another tool your instructors may use for asynchronous student discussions. You can contribute to the discussion using text, audio, or video. VoiceThread is also available via the VoiceThread Mobile App.

Assignments, Classwork, and Grades

Chat or Meet in Microsoft Teams
  • Connect with anyone on campus via chat, audio, or video call. All CU Boulder users are licensed for Teams, making it easier to add people to a team or search, call, and chat
  • Invite external (guest) users to be part of your Team
  • Access other Office 365 apps including OneDrive, SharePoint, OneNote, and Planner
  • Connect your Team to third-party apps and connectors including Google Drive, SurveyMonkey, Twitter, RSS, Salesforce, Trello, GitHub and JIRA
Completing Assignments in Canvas

Your instructors may have you complete and submit assignments online for your courses. Refer to the following tutorials for help with assignments in Canvas:

You can upload different file types to assignments in Canvas including Microsoft Office documents, audio, videos, and Google Docs. Your instructor may specify what file type they require for an assignment.

Conducting Group Work

Your instructors may have you work in groups during online classes and outside of class time. 

Check in with your classmates, particularly if you need to collaborate on a project or assignment, on how to best communicate with each other. Exchange contact information and decide on a communication method.

Checking Grades in Canvas

You can view your grades in Canvas. Some instructors may not post all assignments in Canvas, so the grade you see may only reflect assignments posted in Canvas.

Taking a Quiz or Exam

Canvas

Your instructors might require you to take a quiz or exam in Canvas. Review the following tutorials for help: 

Proctorio

Instructors may use Proctorio to remotely proctor exams in Canvas. Proctorio allows students to complete an exam remotely, while ensuring the integrity of the exam. Learn more about Proctorio, use the Getting Started Guide for Students to prepare for an exam, and visit the Student FAQ page to learn more.

Get Help 

  • For general questions about teaching and learning tools supported by OIT, please contact the IT Service Center at oithelp@colorado.edu or 303-735-4357. 
  • Check the Help Menu in Canvas for student resources such as 24X7 online chat support, Canvas guides, and more.