Start Guide to Help you Work Remotely

New Start Guide for Working Remotely is Available!

For the most recent guide please see the Start Guide to Work Remotely – Fall 2020 post.

Our ultimate goal is to support you with your technical needs throughout this difficult time. We appreciate all of your patience as we continue to handle requests.

Virtual Resource Centers

Specific Tools to Work Remotely

Internet Access to Michigan Residents

Resources to gain low-cost internet access as shared by the Library of Michigan:

Phones, Voicemail, and Email

  • Voicemail Quick Reference – allows you to check your voicemail off campus, listen to your messages and to record a new greeting
  • Forwarding Calls – Forwarding calls is only available to local phone numbers with a 269 area code. If you would like to forward your calls to your local phone number please complete the forwarding calls form.
  • Email and Webmail – Review our documentation on using your Kalamazoo College email via Outlook (if it was installed on your device) or anywhere on the go with webmail.

File Sharing, Instant Messaging/Chat, and Videoconferencing

  • File sharing – There are many ways faculty and staff can share files remotely. Feel free to choose which K approved method(s) works best for you and your team!
  • Instant Messaging/Chat – Learn more instant messaging though Microsoft Teams or Pidgin
  • Videoconferencing – Do you need to meet with your colleagues virtually? Learn how you can do so with our newest platform.

Personal Computing


Getting Help

If you are unable to find the information you need from the resources listed or from the IS website, you may contact the Help Desk. Please understand that the Help Desk team is experiencing a high volume of calls and requests and response times may be longer than usual.

“Introduction to Contingency Teaching Online” course for Faculty

A message from Josh Moon

Joshua Moon, Educational Technology Specialist

Dear Colleagues,

The wealth of links, tips, and best practices available for online teaching has been valuable. However, something many of us are missing are models and experience.

I am happy to offer an online Moodle course titled Introduction to Contingency Teaching Online to run from March 20th to March 27th. I recognize that this is a busy time for everyone with the completion of winter quarter, but most of the activities will be asynchronous and brief. You do not need to check-in daily. The goal will be to demonstrate a few techniques, share potential tools, and give everyone experience in the online learning environment as a student.

If you would like to participate, please email me at to be enrolled in the course.

Course Syllabus

Contacting Your Instructor

You are welcome and encouraged to email me. However, if others would benefit from seeing your question and the answers, please use the Class Forum on Moodle to share with everyone.

I am also available intermittently on Microsoft Teams (explained below). Feel free to invite me if you’d like to chat.

Course Goals

  • Provide all participants with experience in an online learning environment in the role of a student.
  • Try out a limited number of Moodle and non-Moodle tools as part of online learning.
  • Provide faculty one more forum to communicate, share ideas, and build connections.
  • Reflect on what we bring to this process and plan for the weeks ahead.

You might notice that one goal is not to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about Moodle or inventory every online learning “best practice” imaginable. There is a great deal of that available already. Hundreds of links to tip sheets, checklists, and principles are circulating in our pedagogical communities already. The COVID-19 Online Learning Plan Updates page has a growing amount of updates about helpful campus resources and practical implementations.

Course Schedule

The class will run formally from March 20th to March 27th. However, you are welcome to continue using the Forum and accessing other pages as long as you wish. All the activities are intended to be completed during that week at your own pace with the exception of participating in one Microsoft Teams Call or Chat. I’ll offer a number of time options to meet online and obviously we can be immensely flexible.

Course Materials and Technology

  • Access to Moodle at Kalamazoo College.
  • The annotation tool Hypothesis. Hypothesis is an open-source, non-profit tool, and I am comfortable that they are being responsible with your data and login. Visit their “Get Started” page. If you can, I recommend installing the Chrome extension as opposed to the “bookmarklet” tool for Safari and Firefox. It is more reliable. You are welcome to choose your own username.
  • Our Kalamazoo College Office365 subscription: A suite of applications available for free to all staff, faculty, and students at the College. It includes online, collaborative versions of Office products like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. You also get 1TB of cloud storage in OneDrive. The Information Services Office365 page can help you get started.
  • Microsoft Teams: One of our Office365 applications, teams allows for video/audio conferencing, chat features, and screen sharing. It is available to us as part of Office365. You can get started and learn more at this page. I’ll be offering a number of time slots for everyone to try this feature. You can join through video, just audio, or text chat based on your connection quality.

Optional but encouraged:

  • A computer or mobile device with a camera and microphone. For the most part, I will be using a Logitech HD Pro C920.

Grading and Course Activities

This course is graded Pass/Fail with failure having no consequences at all besides learning.

I will use Completion Tracking, a Moodle tool that creates a checkbox next to all appropriate activities. Some completion is controlled by Moodle (a dashed checkbox) while others are self-reportable (a solid checkbox). This is designed to let you know what you have to complete for each Module.

Course Activities include:

  • A private blog post
  • Forum participation
  • Collaborative document annotation
  • One real-time check-in with Microsoft Teams
  • A short, final Teaching Plan Assignment


I’ve worked to make class content technically accessible including using Word docs with styles and headings when possible,increasing the accessibility of PDFs, formatting Moodle, captioning videos, etc. However, I will make mistakes. If you find something is inaccessible to you or an impediment to your learning, please let me know! I want to work with you to fix this and improve the class.

Return to all COVID-19 Online Learning Plan Updates

How to Organize a Week of Online Learning in Moodle

As the College prepares to transition to online teaching, we’ll rely on some resources the College already possesses. One of our core tools is our Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle. It is familiar to students and to many faculty, making it a great place to start.

The purpose of this post is to illustrate what a typical week in an online Moodle course might look like. Feeling nervous about using Moodle for the first time? Not to worry! This format is particularly useful if one is new to online instruction and trying to get started. It is not designed to address every pedagogy or discipline, but it is a place to begin.

Keep in mind that as you start out, don’t worry about getting everything in place by Week One. Start with getting the basics of the course set up and the students enrolled. You can’t anticipate every need or step in the beginning. That’s okay!

A Typical Week in Moodle

Here is an example of what a typical week online in Moodle might look like:

Screenshot of an overview of the Sample Moodle course, described below.

General Section

At the General top section of Moodle, four features are present:

Screenshot of Demo General section, described below.
  • An Announcements Forum that serves as the key communication method for reaching the students.
  • A digital copy of the syllabus.
  • A class preparation checklist with a Moodle Page resource You might have covered some of this in the syllabus, but are there specific online (non-Moodle) tools you’ll ask them to use?  Is there a website or service they’ll need to access or sign up for? What do students need for a successful Week One?
  • A class Q&A Forum provides a central place to field questions about the course. Students will often populate this with clarifications about the schedule, technical questions, and general non-content topics.  If you need help answering a question, contact Josh and his team.

Week by Week Section

The first week (March 31 – April 6) models what a basic online learning class in Moodle might look like.

Screenshot of Demo Moodle Course week: March 31 - April 6, described below.
  • Instructional material in the form of a PowerPoint, podcast, video lecture, link, and/or reading gives the students a common reference and provides the content for the week.  It can be accessed by the students on their own time.
  • Attached to the instructional content is a discussion Forum where students can respond to your material.  It is helpful to have prompts and directions.
  • A short Quiz can help review learning goals and provide a check-in incentive.  The goal is formative assessment and engagement.  Are they getting the right idea?
  • Certain weeks might contain a more robust written assignment directed at a learning goal. Use the Assignment dropbox or the OU blog to receive student work.

Some of this content should be scheduled consistently to help students plan and keep a rhythm. For instance, the Quiz might be due regularly on Wednesday so the instructor can address trouble spots with Announcement messages or more instructional material. Also, when do you expect students to check-in to the discussion Forum for the first time?

There are more advanced Moodle tools and other resources to add variety, depth, and engagement to your course. However, the goal here is to provide one look at what a week in learning online with Moodle might look like if you need a place to begin.

A Few More Basic Tips

  • Keep some future weeks hidden and open them at a consistent date during the week.  Keep the class together on schedule while allowing flexibility.
  • It isn’t necessary to respond to every student post in every Forum.  Let them drive the discussion and intervene strategically.  Save many of your comments for a summary message through the announcements.
  • Encourage students to use the Q&A Forum for common questions and clarification. This will save you from answering the same questions multiple times.

As always, we are here to help you and answer questions!

Want to Get Started?

Are you looking to get started with setting up your courses for the Spring quarter? To begin, visit our Moodle page to request your courses. From there, you will be equipped with further instruction on how to begin using Moodle.

Get Help!

Faculty support for Moodle is available through a number of means!

COVID-19 Online Learning Plan

In the event that classes are unable to meet in-person, the College has a number of resources available to facilitate a transition to online instruction. The recommendations below are consistent with other institutions and form the essential plan of moving to online learning in a contingency situation. 

For implementation, questions, both technical and pedagogical, please contact:

Josh Moon
Educational Technology Specialist

Core principles

  • Keep teaching & learning: focus on your learning goals, adjust as best you can, be patient with students and technology, and realize that things will not be perfect.
  • Work with what you have and to your strengths. Limit new technology that you are unfamiliar with and have to learn.
  • Use audio, video, synchronous chats, web conferencing, visuals, and creativity to foster community and personalization as much as possible.
  • Do not lose track of struggling students. Maintain connections with students who do not appear as engaged. They might have technical challenges, needs insecurity, and other challenges making it difficult to transition to the online environment.

How can I present material to students?

  • Take advantage of quality instructional content offered by other educators.  Are there lectures, presentations, TED Talks, etc., that you can link to help instruct students?
  • Our Kalamazoo College Library has videos, articles, eBooks, and other resources that are available on and off campus.  They are happy to help you integrate them into your online instruction as well.  To work with them, please contact
  • QuickTime supports screen recording and is an accessible solution for Mac users who wish to turn their PowerPoints and other applications into videos for students. Watch the Quicktime Screen Recording video on Youtube to understand the process.
  • PowerPoint allows users to record narration and export the file as a video.
  • Instructors also utilize other instructional methods including:
    • Drawing and writing instructions on a digital whiteboard such as OpenBoard.
    • Record an audio “podcast.”  You can use devices such as smartphones, iPads, or download a simple audio recorder to your desktop.
    • Perform low-tech lecture capture with a smartphone.
  • Consider hosting video files outside of Moodle for student convenience.  Sharing large files is possible with OneDrive as part of our Office 365 suite.

If my class is unable to meet in person, how can we collaborate and work on class content together?

Moodle Based Tools

  • The online discussion Forum is a classic tool for students to upload questions, supply responses, and make those posts accessible to other students.  Creating authentic dialogue and exchange can be challenging. Educause has 10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions.
  • Switch to the online Assignments dropbox for submission and grading if you cannot receive physical papers.
  • Moodle also supports audio recording. Consider including audio in grading feedback and discussion Forums to personalize and foster interaction beyond text.
  • You can utilize online quizzes. Focus on formative assessment and learning support to limit questions about academic honesty.
  • Since you will be relying a great deal on email, consider turning on notifications and subscriptions for features like Assignments, Forum, and other resources.

Other Tools

  • A popular tool called Hypothesis allows private groups to annotate the text of webpages and PDF files (hosted on Moodle).  This can be used asynchronously for discussion or even synchronously where the class can “meet” at a text and annotate together in real-time.  The tool is free and open source.
  • Padlet is a digital posting board that supports text boxes, images, links, video, etc.  Basic features are free. Rick Barth demoed Padlet during our Fall Faculty Colloquium.
  • As a Microsoft school, all Kalamazoo College staff, faculty, and students have access to the online Office 365 suite. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and other resources available online for collaboration under a secure login.

Video conferencing

  • The College possesses licenses for the video platform Zoom. Synchronous video chats should be seen as supplemental and not as full replacements for contact hours.  Instructors will have more success breaking students into groups for shorter, small chats. Contact Media Services for Zoom requests.
  • The College is currently exploring our Microsoft resources to supply additional video meeting options.

Other concerns

  • It is important to remember that students may not have access to computers, laptops, and high-speed data connections especially in a time of disruption. Keep this in mind when scheduling synchronous activities, expecting students to access large files, and accepting assignments. Use video strategically and in moderation.
  • Before requiring students to install or sign-up for a supplemental technology, consider student privacy and data to ensure that accessibility, security, and FERPA are maintained. 
  • If you wish to begin using the Moodle online grade book, please set up time with Josh Moon to get started. Collaboration in making sure the grade book works for your class will save frustration and time.

More resources

The online resources available to support contingency online instruction are numerous. Here are a few of the best and most helpful.

Return to all COVID-19 Online Learning Plan Updates