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Online Course Instruction FAQs

Please find some additional information regarding online instruction.

Do I have to use Blackboard to teach my course online?

Blackboard is the home-base for online learning activity at Fisher. It is essential that students have a consistent place to go to look for course materials that have been transitioned online during this time. At a minimum, you should use Blackboard to communicate with your students. If you are utilizing other tools and/or websites as part of your online course delivery, those tools should be linked from within your Blackboard course.

I have exams in my class. Will proctored exam services be available?

In the case of a short-term campus closure (1-2 weeks), you may need to adjust your course schedule so that exams can take place when classes resume. In the case of a long term campus closure (longer than 2 weeks), exams will need to be transitioned to take-home exams. This can be done using either a Blackboard Test or a Blackboard Assignment. We will not be able to offer online proctoring solutions to courses that transition online as part of the emergency response to the coronavirus.

I have videos that I show in my class. How can those be transitioned for online delivery?

First, contact Lavery Library at to verify if we have access to the video and if it can be digitized. If so, the video will be digitized by OIT and posted on Ensemble for you. You will then be able to embed the video within your Blackboard course. If this is not an option, the library will check to see if the video is available through other online options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. It may be available with a subscription or for a fee. If so, access must be acquired individually by each student in the course. It is up to the discretion of the instructor if this is still a required component of the course online or if other activities can be made available to replace the content included in the video. Your liaison librarian can help you find alternative video resources including Kanopy videos, which we will be reopening for faculty use.

Can I use Zoom with my class for more than 40 minutes?

Yes, you can. Fisher has recently acquired a site-wide license with Zoom that now allows all faculty members access to Pro accounts, which removes some of the previous restrictions on our Zoom accounts. Please view the video tutorial on Holding a Class through Zoom to learn more about setting up and account and using Zoom with your students. We also recommend attending one of the Continuity of Instruction Webinars specifically focused on Zoom. Please note, that our license currently includes faculty and staff Pro accounts. We are not rolling out Pro accounts for all students at this time and we are currently unable to support students with creating Zoom meetings on their own. We encourage students to use means they are already comfortable with, primarily asynchronous means, to communicate with members of their groups as needed during this time whenever the faculty member is not present.

What is Zoom bombing and how can I avoid it?

Zoom-bombing, the name given to gate-crashing Zoom meetings, can cause unwanted disruption in your meetings or classes. For public meetings, Zoom reminds users that when you share your meeting link on social media or other public forums, that makes your event public; anyone with the link can join the meeting.

A few tips to prevent others (unwanted) from joining your meeting:

  • Lock the Meeting: It’s always smart to lock your front door, even when you’re inside the house. When you lock a Zoom Meeting that has already started, no new participants can join, even if they have the meeting ID and password (if you have required one). From the manage participants pane at the very bottom, click on More, and select Lock Meeting.
  • Remove Unwanted Participants: Dismiss a participant from the meeting. They won’t be able to rejoin unless you allow participants and panelist to rejoin (a setting under In-Meeting (Basic) from your profile). Hover your mouse pointer over a participant and click More for options, then click Remove.

Are iPads and Apple Pencils available for faculty to create video lectures for online delivery?

If you have prior experience creating video lectures with the iPad and Apple Pencil, either as part of the Apple 1:1 initiative or you have taught an online class using this technology in the past, please contact Katie Sabourin at to request a loaner for this purpose. Any other requests for this technology need to be submitted to your department chair and/or dean.

What if my student does not have internet access at home?

While many students will have access to the internet at home, we cannot guarantee that applies to all students. For those that do not have access to the internet at home, they may be able to access their online courses using their phone or tablet devices with a cellular connection, either through a browser or through the Blackboard app. While we cannot guarantee this covers all students, we believe it does cover the vast majority. Students who do not have access should be directed to contact the OIT Service Desk for support and assistance.

What are the technical requirements necessary for online classes?

You will need to have a computer (either Windows 10 or Mac OSX 10.8 or higher) and a high-speed Internet connection. If you plan to hold synchronous live sessions or record video lectures, you will also need a webcam and a headset with a microphone. We recommend the Logitech H570E Stereo USB Headset. We also recommend the latest version of Chrome or Firefox as the preferred web browsers. Other browsers such as IE, Edge, Opera, or Safari are also acceptable, but may not provide full functionality for all campus resources. For more detailed technical specifications, please visit the student computer recommendations on the OIT website.

What if I need to work remotely? Do I need VPN access?

Most resources needed to teach online do not require VPN access (Blackboard, Ensemble, Zoom, Collaborate).

For faculty who have desktop computers, OIT is preemptively enabling Remote Desktop access. Remote Desktop, along with VPN access, allows you to connect to your SJFC desktop computer from a computer that is off campus. Temporary VPN access is being granted when requested by supervisors. In the event that VPN needs to be granted widely, on an urgent basis, OIT will grant that access to all users. In both cases, we plan to remove that access after the Covid-19 period is past, due to security concerns with making this access available on a prolonged basis for users that do not specifically need it daily for College business.

I don’t have a suitable computer to work from home. What do I do?

The ERT has requested and is receiving academic continuity plans from department chairs and lists of essential personnel and their needs from across the College. This information will be used by the ERT team to prioritize requests for the best utilization of the College’s resources. OIT has been preparing to have equipment ready to deploy.

Laptops in academic areas are not available to borrow as these devices are counted in the number of available laptops being managed by the ERT team.

Who should I contact with technological or pedagogical questions related to transitioning my course online?

First, please review the resources posted on the Faculty Resources for Continuity of Instruction page and attend one of the upcoming Continuity of Instruction Webinars. For additional questions and support on the essential skills listed above, please first reach out to the Blackboard expert or Online Learning expert identified in your department or the additional faculty who have volunteered to provide assistance to faculty across campus. Those individuals will be your first line of support by phone, email or through Zoom to help answer any questions you may have as you transition your courses to the online format. Additional questions will be escalated through those experts to Katie Sabourin and OIT staff for additional levels of support.