Distance Learning Forum

So with schools closed down and most kids doing distance learning I thought a place to talk, vent, curse, cry and or get ideas would be helpful. At least it will be therapeutic for me because it's day 1 and I'm already overwhelmed by the amount of work my three kids are being asked to complete.

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I don't know if there are any instructors on this board but I (a graduate student with teaching responsibilities) have moved my course onto Zoom, a video conference app. I can share my screen, upload PDF's, images, etc. and break the students into what's called "breakout rooms" so I can have them discuss in smaller groups before coming back into the main room.

My VPK, 1st grader and 3rd graded I think are going to find this difficult.

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I too will be transitioning my course material to an online format. However, be wary of zoom and other popular methods. These are what everyone will be utilizing across the country. I am not sure those outlets can handle the new traffic. Per recommendation from a Stanford professor, if your class was not originally designed for online teaching then only do the bare minimum in terms of transitioning. This will make everything much smoother. One such suggestion is to just use email by sending slides and lecture notes to your class. Also, create some open discussion as well via email or another simple platform. As a doctoral student starting my comps, transitioning to online teaching is not a top priority nor is teaching honestly.

I tried to use a conference call service yesterday for one of my meetings. It was taking most participants at least 3 attempts to dial in. And once we were on, the call quality was abysmal.

My company has gone all video and phone conference for all meetings to minimize contact and can confirm even microsoft teams is struggling these days.

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Webex has been working great so far

Ring Central has been amazing, for what it's worth.

As a graduate from online school (Grantham University) I offer the following advices:

* don't think online is easy. It's not. You must put in the effort.

* don't be afraid of emailing your instructor or hitting up the asynchronous forum. Sometime I find that someone had questions similar to me and answered.

* stay engaged in discussion board. That is a big part of your grade. Do not even try to meet the minimum. Put in the effort to show face.

* follow the assignments instructions to the letter and that includes lab. If you have to follow APA format, do it. If labs involves experiments, include screenshots and photographs if allowed.

* above all, DO NOT SLACK OFF just because it's online.

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The biggest thing when doing online classes of any sort, are doing so with the camera on.

It makes you more attentive and engaged. Conference calls are not great, and can get boring easily.


The only time webcam were ever utilized was when my exams were being proctored. One time when doing team lab, we used Google Hangout to collaborate.

Grantham University implemented the use of Blackboard for all "lectures" and links to various YouTube lectures.

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To respond most directly to what I think the OP was getting at...

F$@k the coronavirus. I have to work 50 hours a week from home and my wife is a healthcare professional who can't miss work. How in the hell am I supposed to support the home school efforts of three kids and still meet work obligations, considering the literal shit ton of work they've been asked to complete?!?

Thank God for teachers but a teacher I am not. No clue how to get through this..


I need beer.

My wife is also in healthcare but is seeing her cases cut because they are considered largely elective for many. I'm trying to finish my last three classes for my bachelors degree and start my masters program and have 4 kids at home doing distance learning on some app called "classdojo" I've spent all morning running from 3 to 4 to 7 to 9 year old setting up their next lesson, answering questions, typing responses to videos sent by the teacher for younger two. I have no idea how I'm going to do my class work plus normal around the house stuff.

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Good luck and God speed, sir. Sounds...not fun.

anyone looking for free online education. I've used Khan Academy for the last 10 years whenever I needed a refresh on something or was just interested. Very easy to use and it has a lot of tutorials.

They have a lot from elementary math and reading lessons to college level electrical engineering. and economics. Highly suggest those of you looking for resources to check it out and help your kids.


EDIT: just realized my link didn't work

My kindergartener was not given much in the way of resources because Charlotte schools at first tried to move spring break to this week and just have time off from school, but then once the governor shut down schools statewide they had to backtrack that and try to come up with something. We were given hastily compiled reading and math lists but it's so hard to get a 5 year old to focus when she sees her toys on the other side of the room. I used khan with her yesterday and she was instantly focused and dialed in, definitely check it out if you're having trouble.

I'm tutoring my 15 year old soon-to-be-brother-in-law in geometry while he does his online classes. He's been telling me that he is basically doing 5 hour blocks of work each day. As he explained it "I go to school to learn, then do HW to prove to the teacher that I know the material. Now it feels like I just have 5 hours of HW and no school."

He hates it, but the way I see it, he's learning how to learn, which IMO is the most valuable skill one can have; a skill that I didn't develop until my junior year of undergrad.

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For any adults and pseudo-adults that need training as well...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"


Didn't know where else to ask.
I need to convert a PDF document for pandemic planning into a word document. Anyone have access to the software that does that and wants to help a brother out?

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i think google docs might do this for you, might be worth a try at least

edit: mrs mattboard says it freaks out at columns and such but it kind of works

I could on my workstation in the office, but that would have to wait until tomorrow. Adobe Acrobat does a good job, but a cheaper version (and the one I use), is Foxit Phantom. There are free online apps available but are not as easy to work with.

If none of the previous mentioned methods work, I have Adobe Pro. Let me know and I'll DM you on Twitter.

I think I figured it out, hopefully didn't give my email to some Russian. Thanks for offer.

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best online compression and converter. for future reference

Harrisonburg resident here... I must say that I'm terribly disappointed in whats going on here. They've provided little to no direction for students (or parents), and seem to have no plan moving forward. I have a Jr at the high school who has a bit of "homework" to do, but not much else. Then our little straggler is in 1st grade (the dual language program), and there's absolutely nothing for them from the elementary school.

Is coronavirus over yet?

Next door to ya in Page and its the same. No plan going forward, at least it hasn't been communicated to parents yet if there is one.

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I recognize that my comments come across as being insensitive to the situation the teachers are in. I'm not. I love our educators here in the city! My disappointment comes from the fact that the local administration didn't have enough foresight to lead our educators into at least a posture of communication.

Is coronavirus over yet?

In the next 9 months, I foresee a lot of babies and lot of divorces.

Actually less divorces are likely due to the economy taking a turn for the worse. Maybe a spike of divorces after the economy turns around.

As someone who has worked in a "distributed learning" environment for 20+ years.... it's a completely different modality and when done right, is IMHO much harder to plan and deliver. At VT, TLOS (or whatever that group is named this week) provides a lot of assistance for faculty that want are putting content online. VT has provided a wealth of tools for years - video servers, lecture recording, CANVAS. You can be as robust, or as simple, as required.

My advice to anyone new to Zoom, etc:

  • If you're hosting, have a 2nd person manage the chat, etc. It's hard enough to maintain eye contact with a camera, and your class knows when you're looking down every 3 seconds.
  • Close out any program that can ding, whistle or zoink. You may have to adjust windows notifications.
  • Mute everyone by default. Zoom - you can allow people to use their spacebar as a kind of push-to-talk. Much easier than hearing the cat knock over the trash, etc.
  • For the love of all that's holy, close out your email. You really don't want THAT spam popping.
  • Use the virtual backgrounds. Please.
  • Remember, Zoom has attendee attention tracking active when the host is sharing something. They can tell if you're looking at what's shared or not..

And no surprise there, it's Wally Lancaster with an airball that looked gorgeous on its way to nowhere...
2/15/89, VT vs. South Carolina...


My wife is a teacher of 20 years. They have never encountered anything like this either. Please understand that they were thrown under the bus as well as the students. Trying to plan online classes in a few hours for an entire semester was rough. She also has to figure out what to do for all the students that simply do not have internet access. There are also large groups of students that she will never see again. There are less fortunate students where being at home is not safe for them. A lot of them may not eat. All of this weighs VERY heavily on the teachers as well. I've never understood why anyone would want to be a teacher with the shitty pay, no respect, etc but it is in her blood. She truly cares about all the students and I admire her for that.

Same with my wife. It's in her blood and she's good at what she does. She also cares about her kids. Too much, probably. She's more of a life counselor to her kids than the guidance counselors will ever care to be. I understand that it's frustrating as a parent, but this is also frustrating for teachers. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, they were given about a 4 day warning, and the warning was "Start thinking about how you would conduct your class in an online format." No advice on any standard apps to use, how much work to put out there, nothing. Not until after the CMS board voted to adjust the schedule, only to have that undone by the governor shutting down schools 2 days later, did they start issuing guidance on what platforms to use, etc. And then made the first 2 weeks OPTIONAL. No new material, no grades. Basically a 2 week trial run to see if any of this was feasible.

Exactly what happened to mine. She is pretty tore up about not being able to help the kids.

Does anyone on here have a recommendation for an online seminar/course for Revit training that they have used (specifically structural building oriented)?

I've gotten pretty good at it over the past couple of years on my own, but still lack any formal training and need to get better at some of the more advanced parts of the program. Meanwhile, everyone else at my work is basically at the beginner level where they do more harm than good which requires me to fix the stuff they have ruined.

I need to find something better than just online videos that can teach my office the correct way to set up our projects and preferably someone to give us guidance with our own business specific problems.

I would suggest looking into CAD Training Online. I did CAD training with them some years back and they were pretty awesome. I just looked at their website and the do offer structural Revit services. If this is not exactly what you are looking for I'd reach out to them and see if they can help you with something more tailored. Rick was very helpful when I used them. Link below:

CTO - Structural Revit

What a savings

Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into that if our work starts slowing down soon.

I'm a grad student at Carnegie Mellon University and currently in a class taught by a 86 year old professor. I'm somewhat amazed he can use Zoom but we have a different ID than the one he sends out ahead of time every class. He turns down his volume and then wonders why he can't hear us. It's just a major shit show every Tuesday and Thursday. This is the worst of the examples, but it's not like the normal professors are doing that much better.

At least this class is mostly based on discussion questions and a final paper. Trying to learn econometric methods and analytics is whole different story.

Anyone used "Arc" on canvas to record a presentation video before? Trying to find a way to put up a background.

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Currently teaching my courses completely asynchronously.

I do plan on having a videoconference with my classes pretty soon, just to see how everyone's doing.

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