Barebones F2F-to-Online Transition: A COVID-19 Response

By Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

In the morning of March 12, faculty and staff in the University of Hawaii System received news that all classes will be conducted online starting March 23, after the spring recess, to prevent the possible spread of COVID-191. For F2F and blended instructors with some knowledge of Laulima, the System’s Sakai CMS, the move from F2F to online shouldn’t be too difficult. Those with little or no knowledge, however, will face a steep learning curve.

Laulima is a complex Course Management System with powerful tools, which makes it difficult to learn and master. This difficulty is compounded by numerous complicated procedures that are nonintuitive. It is often klunky, confusing, mindnumbing, and unforgiving, but it also provides some invaluable tools for online instruction. For me, the two most valuable are the discussion and email tools.

To substantially reduce the learning curve, I’ve devised a quick and dirty method to move a standard lecture-discussion course2 completely online via Laulima’s discussion and email tools. Both are included as default tools in the left sidebar of the basic course structure. There are many other tools to streamline and enhance instruction, but in this emergency and in the interest of time, the focus is on getting up and running with minimal fuss. 

Laulima’s email tool is self-explanatory, and most if not all instructors are familiar with email, so I won’t explain its use in detail. In this KISS scheme, the email tool will serve as a medium for private instructor-student and student-student messages. It will also serve as an efficient means to send announcements and just-in-time lessons or reminders to the entire class or groups of students.

The “Discussion and Private Messages” tool will serve, at once, as a schedule of learning activities, a medium for sharing text-lectures and readings, and a platform for interactive discussions and activities. It’s actually quite intuitive, so the learning curve shouldn’t be too steep. The instructions below are designed to minimize complexity.

Both tools can be used by students to submit drafts and other coursework. Completed tests and quizzes could be submitted via email3.

Those familiar with Laulima’s discussion tool can disregard steps 1 and 2 and go straight to step 3.

1. Log in to your Laulima account.
a. Go to: https://laulima.hawaii.edu. You may be asked to log in with your UH email username and password.
b. Once logged in, your courses should appear at the top of your HOME page.

If your course is listed, skip to step 2. If you don’t see a course or courses, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on REQUEST ACCOUNT.


c. Click: UH Faculty and Staff [LOGIN]


d. Complete the UH and DUO login procedure if required.


e. Complete the “Request (or modify) laulima account(s)” form.

f. A UH IT specialist will get in touch with you shortly to let you know that the course has been created. It should appear at the top of your HOME page. Based on my experience, they’ll respond at night and on weekends, too. They’re amazing! Don’t stress about completing the form correctly. The staff will send further instructions if necessary.

2. Log in to your course site.

The course site will be highlighted to let you know that you’re on the correct page. When your site is ready to be shared with students, click PUBLISH NOW in the yellow highlighted section.

3. Log in to DISCUSSION AND PRIVATE MESSAGES

a. The default menu includes DISCUSSION AND PRIVATE MESSAGES in the left sidebar.

 

4. Set up your DISCUSSION AND PRIVATE MESSAGES page by clicking MANAGE.

a. On the MANAGE FORUMS page, delete the four sample forums.

Click the checkbox for each forum. Next, click DELETE .

b. Click ADD — to add a new forum.

b. On the ADD page, complete the first three items only: FORUM NAME, CATEGORY (select MAIN), and DESCRIPTION. Be sure to click SAVE after you’re done.

For example:

c. The image below is an illustration of our sample discussion forum. It is, at once, a schedule of learning activities, a medium for sharing text-lectures and readings, and a platform for interactive discussions and activities. Students would click on a forum to complete activities.

Here’s a zoom-in on the discussion topics that also serve as a schedule:

In this example, two-to-three units following a similar structure could cover the six-to-seven weeks following spring break. Of course, instructors are free to organize their schedules and activities according to their own needs and preferences. This is just a mock-up of how this barebones approach could be applied.

Here’s a breakdown of how this discussion-based schedule might play out from March 23 to May 15:

1. Unit 1: 3/23 Introduction to the unit of study.

2. Unit 1: 3/23 Lecture and reading assignments. Student comments or questions encouraged.

3. Unit 1: 3/30 Discussion of lecture and reading assignments. Instructor-generated questions or topics. Students required to post comments in this discussion forum.

4. Unit 1: 4/6 Individual or group activity, project, or paper. Submitted to instructor via private email.

5. Unit 1: 4/9 Test or quiz. Completed quiz/test submitted to instructor via private email.

**********

6. Unit 2: 4/13 Introduction to the unit of study.

7. Unit 2: 4/23 Lecture and reading assignments. Student comments or questions encouraged.

8. Unit 2: 4/27 Discussion of lecture and reading assignments. Instructor-generated questions or topics. Students required to post comments in the discussion forum.

9. Unit 2: 5/4 Individual or group activity, project, or paper. Submitted to instructor via private email.

10. Unit 2: 5/9-5/15 Test or quiz. Completed quiz/test submitted to instructor via private email.

In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, April 13, so this makeshift setup might suffice.
__________
1 The UH System is following the example of other colleges and organizations throughout the country and the world:

The Coronavirus Is Forcing Techies To Work From Home. Some May Never Go Back To The Office.” Alex Kantrowitz, BuzzFeed News Reporter, Posted on March 4, 2020, at 8:26 p.m. ET.

Duke and UCLA join universities across the US that are canceling in-person classes due to coronavirus. By Eric Levenson and Chris Boyette, CNN. Updated 8:59 PM ET, Tue March 10, 2020.

Harvard moves classes online in wake of coronavirus outbreak. By Deirdre Fernandes and Steve Annear Globe Staff. Updated March 10, 2020, 1:10 p.m.

COVID-19 – Moving Classes Online, Other Updates. Harvard announcement, March 10, 2020.

Updated: At Least 48 Colleges Have Canceled In-Person Classes (So Far) Over Coronavirus Fears. Lisette Voytko, Forbes Staff. Mar 10, 2020, 12:56pm EST.

List of Conferences & Events Cancelled, Postponed or Delayed Due to Coronavirus [COVID-19]. Updated by Sarah Evans (@PRsarahevans). Accessed 3/12/20 at 12:53 PM.

2 Courses with hands-on labs/workshops and performing arts requirements face a different challenge that can’t be fully addressed by this barebones approach.

3 Proctored or remote exam procedures could be incorporated into this barebones scheme.

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