Recommendations of the Online Semester Committee
The following is a checklist to prepare for online teaching in the coming semester. Most of these are suggestions, especially for those who are new to this mode. Our recommendations are based on `asking around’ and extensive discussions. The Institute is making every effort to provide many popular options, but you can also make your own choices outside of these. A practical approach may be to get familiar, and get started, with a basic set of tools and software platforms, based on extensions of what you have already used or know something about. The following recommendations are to be seen in this light.
You can choose from among desktop, laptop, tablet, or iPad, or your department’s central facility to prepare recorded lectures and also for live sessions.
An earphone or a headset for superior experience is recommended. The built-in microphone and speaker. They tend to cause significant echoes and introduce noise.
You may also use a writing tablet for use with a laptop or a desktop. Some colleagues have an iBall pen digitiser but these do not seem to be available. Wacom appears to be most easily available; it has Intuos Small (7’’ @Rs.7K), Medium (10’’ @Rs.14K), and Cintiq (@1.1L) and a few more options in between. Huion is another brand that is available.
Find a comfortable, quiet spot with good lighting for doing your recordings.
2. Learning Management System (LMS)
It is strongly recommended that you use one. It makes communicating with students, organising course material, and conducting assessments (formative and possibly even summative) easier.
Moodle is the default LMS at IITB with all students and faculty pre-registered for all courses that they are enrolled in or teaching. You may already have some familiarity with Moodle. PPCCLT recently conducted a weeklong workshop. See https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1U6Z1m-9cR-fP9KWMIqjAWZdOXtJ_lNCf for slides from that workshop.
You can also use the LMS features of Bodhitree, an IITB developed platform which supports interactive videos with in-video quizzes. See https://bodhitree.cse.iitb.ac.in for more information. An overview video at [BodhiTree overview] and demo video at [BodhiTree videos] are also available.
3. Online classroom platform (Video conferencing)
Institute has a subscription to MSTeams, Webex, and Google Meet. The open source Big Blue Button (BBB) is also an option that can be used. For a detailed comparison of these and other platforms that we considered, see https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oXBzYFcNLYT-eaiUd1-JfJrgaX4-zeWX-CnmfyG8khI/edit#gid=0
Based on extensive discussions, we believe MSTeams is the most convenient because enrollment can be IITB LDAP ID based and it has a lot of useful features. Tutorials are being arranged in the coming week and links to other training material will be available soon.
Webex has a dial-in feature that allows bandwidth-challenged students to dial in and get the audio feed. This is in addition to supporting many features similar to MS Teams. This is also expected to be available for all those that decide to use it.
There are several BBB enthusiasts (P. Sunthar, not unexpectedly, among others) and a server is being set up to facilitate its use. BBB is suitable provided your class size is not too large, say not larger than 80 students. Using BBB from inside the campus can be bottlenecked if the total number of simultaneous courses becomes large.
4. Discussion Forums
Online discussions are very important for online learning.
Moodle has its own discussion forum.
Piazza is a popular discussion forum which can be integrated directly into Moodle as an “external tool” without requiring separate login creation. (Click here to see how.)
Bodhitree also supports a feature-rich discussion forum (e.g. auto-tagged with topics).
5. Pedagogy and Lecture preparation guidelines
CDEEP has conducted several tutorials on pedagogy. See, for example, https://sites.google.com/view/iitb-teachonline/home
6. Recording lectures
It is strongly recommended that you record a significant part of the course and use the timetable slot for live interactions. These live sessions can be used suitably for reiterating the content of your lectures, resolving student doubts, and even conducting short (0 weight) quizzes to engage the students. However, it is necessary that your live sessions also be recorded and made available to the students.
We advise that all recorded videos be small enough for use by the most bandwidth-challenged. This is achieved by limiting the duration and/or recording format.
We believe that the free version of Zoom is the simplest for recording. Start a video meeting with only you as a participant, and record locally. (Click here to see how.)
CDEEP has tutorials on using OBS software. A quick guide to OBS and other options are available at https://www.cdeep.iitb.ac.in/vdo_help.pdf .
If you have a Mac, you can use Quicktime.
You can use a tablet if you have it for writing on the slides/whiteboard.
Do not use Moodle for storing videos; only provide links to the videos on Moodle.
The recorded videos (pre recorded lectures and live sessions) should be stored on the cloud. If recorded using MSTeams, the video is automatically stored in the cloud. You can also store the videos in your GSuite or One Drive account and make them available through your LMS. We reiterate that you should NOT upload videos on the Moodle LMS to avoid storage and network bandwidth overload.
You may additionally post the videos on a private or public YouTube channel.
Place your laptop at a height such that the camera is roughly level with your face.
Have good lighting on your face. A simple way to do this in the daytime is to face the window. In the evening/night you can face a wall-mounted light, or get a table lamp covered with a diffuser such as a thin paper sheet or thin cloth to avoid reflections from spectacles.
Train your eyes on the camera lens as much as possible instead of on the laptop screen.
The Institute is planning to make some arrangements to conduct one reasonably well proctored exam as part of the summative, end-semester assessment. The details of this are being worked out and we expect to have a clear picture by 15 September. We advise this option for large classes only.
In addition, a video based remote proctoring service that is available to an instructor on-demand is being worked out. This is not very suitable for large classes but may be used by instructors with small to medium sized classes (say, about 50). The details of this should be available by 01 September.
SAFE is an App developed at IITB that can be used on student mobiles to conduct quizzes and even exams. Answers can be entered online, or written on paper and scanned using the SAFE app. We expect this would be very useful even for proctored exams. See https://safe.cse.iitb.ac.in/ for more information on SAFE. An overview video is available at [SAFE overview] and a demo video, at [SAFE videos]
Please note that all of the preceding require both you (and your TAs) and the students to get familiarised with the environment. Please budget time for that. Keeping these in mind, we suggest the following.
Avoid PP/NP. This grading scheme is likely to result in many students not paying attention to a course, and is therefore not recommended.
In pursuit of fair grading, we recommend that you have large weights for proctored exams, especially in large classes; the senate has now approved up to 80% marks for the end semester exams, but you can allocate a lower percentage as per your choice. We suggest (but do not mandate) around 80% in total for remote/in-person proctored exams, if you do not have projects.
Due to uncertainity in how things will evolve this semester, senate has approved change of exam weightage by faculty in case of changing circumstances, but with approval of DUGC/DPGC
We recommend combinations of the following for in-semester assessments.
Lots of small quizzes to ensure students have continuous engagement. Even one quiz per lecture (but can be done any time during the day) is not unreasonable.
In your recorded lectures, you can have in-video quizzes (H5P activity in Moodle or Bodhitree). It is reiterated that videos should be stored separately, not on Moodle, Moodle should only have a link to the video. (Click here to see how.)
Quizzes using SAFE or Moodle and assignments that may be typed in or handwritten material scanned and uploaded.
1:1 Video vivas, if you have a manageable class size
Term papers, checked with a plagiarism checker; IIT has a license for Urkund.
8. Timetable/Academic Calendar
The academic calendar approved by the Senate currently is still tentative and subject to change as the semester evolves.
We strongly recommend that evening slots not be used for medium/large courses since we cannot guarantee well-proctored end-semester exam timings for a large number of slots. At this time, we plan to support in-person exams for slots 1-6, 8-11; other slots may have to rely only on remote-proctoring for end semester exam.
9. To-do before semester begins
Set up your Moodle course account and ensure you can enroll students and TAs, and can also post links to lectures and other material.
Get your GSuite and MSTeams account (even if you do not plan to use them). GSuite gives you 1TB storage that should suffice to store most of your videos. You could also MS One Drive to store videos.
Create a short introductory video about your course, if your course is an elective. Departments should share these videos ahead of time with students, to help them choose what electives to take.
Know your department faculty-in-charge for online teaching support. Consider forming department MS Teams Channels (or Whatsapp groups, Flock and Slack channels) for discussing issues that may arise during the semester.
10. In-Semester to-do
We expect a major part of the lectures to be pre-recorded, to ensure that network glitches (which happen frequently) do not mess up your recordings.
Live class interactions: you can use part of the lecture hours for live interaction. Butrecordings must be made available to students later. Remember to turn on recording, and ask TAs/students to alert you if you forget to turn on recording Otherwise you will be putting students who are not able to join live, or who have network glitches, at an unfair disadvantage.
The total hours of lectures + full class interaction should not exceed the normal lecture+tutorial hours for the course; it can however be less if you assign other work for the remaining hours.
Make sure your TAs are also fully familiarised with LMS that you have chosen. You can point them to the tutorials mentioned above.
Advise students to install the mobile app or Desktop app (Windows and Mac) for your LMS (Moodle or Bodthitree). This is useful for offline access to study material.
Make your course policy for attendance and tests/quizzes/exams and communicate with the student before commencement of lectures. Include a line for long student absence due to COVID related illness.
The department should have Identified a Plan-B instructor for your course (to address illness/quarantine or any long term absence). Please keep this person updated about the progress of the course.
Share your experiences on the department Slack/MSteams Channel, especially atypical incidents, that can help others in the department.
Use 1-2 weeks for you, your TAs, and the students, to become familiar with the environments that you have chosen. We recommend that lessons should start on or after 17 August and definitely by 24 Aug. In the week(s) before start of lessons, you may
Provide a course overview, explain policies, etc
Test drive all features with students+TAs, including recorded lectures, live interactions, in-class quizzes/polls, Moodle/SAFE polls
Get feedback from students on their experience
Sign up for SSO (single sign-on) on sso.iitb.ac.in. Make sure you use your LDAP ID (without the @iitb.ac.in suffix)
Install the MS Teams app on your computer and on your phone, and sign in using your account, e.g. Do NOT use your account: the page will be identical except that MS Teams will be missing!
You can also use the web interface onhttps://teams.microsoft.com but there be issues on some browsers
Try out the recording feature. Recordings are saved on the cloud and you will get an email with the link to the video after some processing delay. You may want to try out virtual backgrounds.
To create a meeting and get a link to it:
Locate the calendar and create a meeting in the calendar.
Add your Gmail ID (or other non IITB email) as an attendee
This will also add the event to your google calendar
There are some issues with email delivery from MS Teams to IITB right now, so do not add IITB email ids as attendees for now. Email to your gmail ID will work though.
Add a meeting description as required. Then save the meeting.
Attendees that you added will receive an invite email. Since you added your GMail or other non-IITB account, you will also receive it. Use the “Join Teams Meeting” link in that email to invite others to the MS Teams meeting.
Webex licenses will be available once the PO is finalized hopefully by sometime in the week of Aug 10. If you plan to use it please install the webex app on your computer and phone. Note that Webex will support dial-in, and recording; recordings are saved on the cloud. Instructions on webex usage will be provided once the webex education version is set up.
Login to your drive.google.com using your IITB Gsuite account;
If you are using Chrome create a new Chrome user so your personal and IITB Google accounts are kept separate.
The IITB account on GSuite is accessed using , with SSO login. This is different from your personal Google account.
Gsuite gives you plenty of space for storing your videos on your google drive. Do NOT store videos on moodle.iitb since it cannot handle the storage/network bandwidth load that will result.
You can share the videos links either with only people in the organization (i.e. IITB) or with anyone with the link, as per your choice.
The new Moodle with course and instructor (but not student) data will be released around Friday Aug 7th. Login to check out the features of the new moodle. The url will be (as before)https://moodle.iitb.ac.in, and it will be accessible from outside IITB directly. The old Moodle will be linked from the new moodle for you to access your old course data.
If you are waiting for a department studio, follow up with the department head. But we suggest you don’t wait for any such facility (which will need to be carefully designed to ensure safety) and begin recording your lectures in your own office. The department facility would be a backup option to address emergencies.
It is recommended that an Online Semester Support Unit be formed in each department. The unit would be tasked with helping faculty with using the video platform, LMS, and other related matters. Please follow up with your HoD about this.
To test the online systems under load, we request everyone who has lectures on Thursday, 14th August, to conduct classes for the full duration of the lecture hour. This will give us a chance to fix problems before lectures start.
We are planning Online-Semester IFMs on 12 and 26 Aug to resolve policy and technology issues that you may all have. Please wait for a formal notice.