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Supporting Students

Instructors can play an important role in supporting students as learners and as "whole" individuals with needs and values beyond the classroom. Instructors can build in support structures (e.g., guidance, transparency) for that will help students them be better prepared to learn and thrive in a new context for learning. This section provides information about what instructors can do to help students learn how to learn online, and what support is available for student technology needs. Below is a brief introduction to key principles and strategies. Follow the links in the headers (or in the left column) for more in-depth information about each category.

Helping students succeed online

Instructors can do some simple things to help scaffold their students' approach to learning online and in flexible formats. These include teaching the technology, providing familiarity and clarty, creating virtual instructor presence in the course, anticipating peak periods for students, and communicating about communicating

Supporting students as humans

Instructors will interact with students more than most other staff at the university, so they are positioned to offer support and assistance that is not strictly pedagogical. Moreover, recognizing ourselves and our students as "whole" individuals with needs and values beyond academics will help us sustain a community of committed and connected learners. It will be essential for you to communicate with students regularly, share student support resources on your Blackboard site, and refer students you are concerned about for help. Some instructors have also added self-care resources to their  Blackboard site.

Supporting students technology needs

KU's Office of Information Technology is working with groups on campus to support students and remove technology barriers. This includes:

  • Student Guides and Tech Tutorials: We’ve worked with campus partners to provide information on how to transition to remote study. This includes tutorials and cheat sheets for using Zoom and Blackboard.
  • Technology Access: We are working with department tech staff and vendors to identify alternatives for remote access to technology in campus labs. In some cases, software providers are temporarily offering expanded licensing to the university. This includes Adobe Creative Cloud (more details to come soon). For other software, we plan to provide additional access for students through virtuallab.ku.edu. In addition, we are working with campus partners to identify options for computer access for students without technology at home.
  • International Student Access. IT is closely monitoring international student access to course content on Blackboard. Should you have students who encounter barriers, have them contact IT Educational Technology (itedtech@ku.edu and 785-864-2600). Some types of content (e.g., YouTube vidoes) are blocked in some countries outside the US. If you link your course to external video content (e.g., in YouTube), currently the most reliable way to enable viewability outside the US is to upload media to Kaltura and then embed that media in Blackboard (Embedding Kaltura media in Blackboard). 
  • Tech Support: We continue to help students with technology questions through our IT Customer Service Center (itcsc@ku.edu and 785-864-8080).

Challenges your students may bring to the learning experience

Unfamiliar Learning Contexts. Most students will be unfamiliar with the new and varied learning contexts for fall 2020.  They may need coaching on how to approach learning in these new contexts.

Stress and Illness. Students may still be dealing with illness or heightened stress due to disruptions to finances, living situations, or social networks.  This stress can make it more difficult for students to focus and learn. 

Issues for International students.  Those who are not able to return to the US may have challenges coordinating with peers/instructors because they are in very different time zones. Some may have difficulty accessing some course content in Blackboard, including YouTube videos and most Google resources.