Distributing course materials

The information on this page was prepared in Spring 2020 for the transition to emergency remote teaching. In preparation for Fall 2020, Duke Learning Innovation has developed a new resource, Flexible Teaching, which features a series of guides for course design, delivery, and materials. Please refer to flexteaching.li.duke.edu as you prepare for your fall course(s).

In an emergency situation, you may need to seek out substitutes or draw on other services to make course textbooks, readings, and multimedia materials available.

Talk to a librarian

If your on-going class is disrupted, your students may be geographically distributed without access to their course textbook or required hard copy materials on campus. Talk to your librarian or email Course Reserves (perkins-reserves@duke.edu) for assistance. An electronic copy of the textbook or text may be available through the library. They may also be able to arrange electronic access with the book publisher. Journal articles or other short works may be able to be placed on e-reserves at Duke. There are some limitations on what can be posted due to copyright restrictions, but the libraries have staff who can help navigate those issues and will make every effort to post what is needed for your course. If you are showing films in class, talk to your librarian to see if a streaming copy of the film is available for student use. Depending on licensing and availability, you may have to consider substitutes. Links to library resources and more information about legally sharing course materials can be found on ScholarWorks.

Link to content from other sources

To save time, you can find video modules for content you would usually deliver by lecture. Look on Coursera for Duke, YouTube, OER Commons, KhanAcademy and other sources. Many other types of pre-existing supplementary materials can also be found on the web, such as e-texts, practice tests, problem sets, online simulations and animations, virtual labs, virtual field trips, etc. 

If you plan to show media that you didn’t create (e.g., clips from existing video or audio), you may need to have students independently access the content outside of your lecture videos. The ScholarWorks site provides more information about incorporating copyrighted recordings into your online class and ways for students to independently access audio-visual content

Create short videos

If you need to deliver small amounts of content to students in lecture format, that can be done live (in Zoom), but if you have time you can also record short (<10 min each) videos for your students. These recordings can include a video of you, a shared screen on your computer (showing slides, a website, or any other software you need to show), or a virtual writing surface where you work problems or equations. 

Creating video lectures

  • Clear audio is most important, so be sure you have a good microphone and a quiet location for recording.
  • Perfect production quality isn’t necessary; you can talk extemporaneously as you would in a classroom setting and not worry about small bobbles of speech or misspeaking in small ways. However, if you decide you’ve made more errors than you would like, just stop, delete that recording, and start again. 
  • Zoom easily allows clipping the beginning and end off of a recording, but to do more significant editing you will need to download the recording mp4 file, edit in a different software, and then share the edited file outside of Zoom (Warpwire is a good option for this). 
  • If you will be switching between different materials within one recording, prepare them first (have them open on your computer) so you can easily switch from one view to the next. 
  • Shorter and more concise recordings are better. They hold student attention longer, and they are easier for you to record. Try to keep each recording under 10 minutes (under 7 minutes is better). If necessary, make two videos to explain the concepts, rather than one longer one. 
  • Use a recording method/tool that allows you to store your recordings in the cloud, so you need only share the link with students rather than uploading/downloading large video files.
  • Zoom’s processing time might be longer than usual: In our experience, most hour-long meetings process in under an hour. Due to increased use, wait times for cloud recordings to process may be longer than average. Try to plan ahead when possible. If you are in a hurry to record a lecture video and find that Zoom is reporting delays or downtime on their status page, try recording with a different tool: the screen capture and narration features offered by Warpwire or Loom may work well for your needs.