The following frequently asked questions are listed and answered to help Bilkent faculty in their transition to distance learning.
This list will be updated regularly. If you have questions that are not addressed at the moment or suggestions that you think will make this transition as smooth as possible for all those involved, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. How does remote teaching @Bilkent work?
Bilkent University lectures are now offered via Zoom. Please find here (https://web4.bilkent.edu.tr/zoom/) the relevant resources, including tutorials for faculty and students. To complement your lectures, you are encouraged to make use of Moodle by considering what (else) can be offered online: your Zoom recording; Powerpoint presentations (with narration, if available, see https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Record-a-slide-show-with-narration-and-slide-timings-0B9502C6-5F6C-40AE-B1E7-E47D8741161C ), course readings, videos, recommended readings…BETS tutorials on Moodle can be found here: http://bets.bilkent.edu.tr.
2. I cannot log in to my Zoom room. What is wrong?
The logic of Zoom rooms is exactly the same as our classrooms. One instructor has to leave the room for the other instructor to enter. Please make sure that you leave the room on time so that the instructor of the next class can log in before his/her class and make preparations. For further information, please visit https://web4.bilkent.edu.tr/zoom/.
3. Can I receive immediate feedback from students during class?
There are at least two ways of doing so. One is to set up a Zoom poll. This may be prepared in advance and can be set as simple/complicated as you wish. The other and more spontaneous alternative is to ask a question in the Chat window and asking the students for immediate responses.
4. With limited access to the Library, what resources are available for our students?
Please get in touch with your Faculty Librarian to see what sources can be made available online for your students’s use. For more general research purposes, you may want to make your students aware of online resources available at other libraries’ and/or publishers’ websites. Bilkent University Library is offering an online chat service to answer questions and other inquiries: https://library.bilkent.edu.tr/online-chat-services-ask-us/.
5. Shall I update my syllabus?
Bilkent University started distance learning on March 23 and will continue teaching online until the end of the Spring semester. This transition may necessitate some changes in the syllabus and assessment methods announced at the beginning of the semester. Instructors may choose to adopt various forms of assessment tools based on the structure and needs of their courses (including, but not limited to: homework assignments, quizzes, projects, zoom-monitored or take-home examinations, oral examinations via Zoom).
These changes should be announced to all students via multiple methods (AIRS, Moodle, e-mail). Please also make sure that the final adjustment is reasonable, fully transparent and fair (considering the unusual circumstances we are operating in).
Before making the final adjustment and informing your students, please test your ideas first. Adjusting the syllabus more than once is not desirable, given how stressed we all are (students and professors). For example, if you are thinking of replacing the in-class mid-term with a Moodle quiz, test the Moodle quiz medium first by offering a very low-stake or non-assessed quiz.
If you are adjusting your course syllabus, please make sure you clearly state
– new modes of assessment,
– adjustment in the weight given to the new modes of assessment (please make sure that the weight of those exams/home-works that were graded before the break remain unchanged). For example, if you had originally announced 5 quizzes with 5pts weight each and two of them have taken place before the break, these first two should still have 5pts weight each, the remaining three can have higher (or lower) weights provided that this is announced before giving these quizzes; similarly for home-work, project, lab work etc.
– updated FZ policy, if relevant. If updating your FZ policy, please keep in mind that our students may have limited access to the kind of hardware, internet bandwidth or data-plan needed.
Please note that all new assessments will be documented as before, for accreditation and quality assurance compliance purposes.
6. How can I hold office hours office hours/tutorials?
It is important that your students know when and how to access you. You may consider holding office hours via Zoom by using your spare/lab hour/s, which already have a Zoom room allocated. In this case, you let your students know which hour/s you plan to use for ‘office hour’ purposes and admit them one by one into your virtual office. If you prefer not to use your spare/lab hour/s, you can ask the Departmental administrative assistant to book a (Zoom) room dedicated to this purpose. Finally, you may consider organizing online tutorials. You can do this using your own unlicensed account and an online scheduling software Calendly (https://calendly.com/), which is now offering free integration with Zoom. Once you connect your unlicensed Zoom account to your Calendly account, students who make Calendly appointments (10-15 minutes) are given their individual time slot and Zoom meeting id. (updated 16/04/2020)
7. How can the students review their examinations/homeworks and receive feedback?
You may make use of the screen share feature of Zoom to go over students’ work. Above-listed ‘office hour/tutorial’ options are also relevant here.
8. What are my options for assessment?
When making the transition, please keep in mind that our assessment methods may have to be relatively low-tech given above-noted limitations. A good rule of thumb is to offer multiple low-stake exams, quizzes and/or home-works (which are easier to manage than one high-stake examination). Another is to keep quizzes and home-works as low-tech as possible so that we can minimize student stress (and potential for complaints). Finally, it is always a good idea to have a plan B (you may or may not want to announce this ahead of time) (for example, if they cannot upload a home-work or exam due to technical difficulties, what is the fallback option?).
In any case, please make sure that all assessments are documented. We must be able to justify each grade, especially in case of a complaint.
Please find below some suggestions. If you have ideas and/or time-proven suggestions, please let us know.
- Take-home examinations: Take home exams are typically open-book exams. To minimize concerns regarding authorship, you may consider offering a timed exam, asking a ‘why question’, and/or accepting only handwritten submissions (to be scanned (using a phone app) and submitted via Moodle or e-mailed), ask the students to refrain from communicating with each other and/or sign an honor code statement before taking the examination. If the exams are typed, Moodle’s Turnitin integration could be used. Alternatively, and depending on class size, some or all of the students may be invited for an oral exam as well (see below).
- Research projects: For writing intensive courses, preparing a rubric may not only help with evaluating students’ performances but also offer them guidance as they write, especially when they have limited access to their professors. To ensure authorship, and depending on the size of your class, all or some of the students can be offered oral exams as well.
- Oral examinations: Coupling the research project with an oral examination is a mode of assessment that is regularly used in some academic cultures. Students prepare and upload a research project ahead of time. Afterwards they take a short oral examination (conducted and recorded via Zoom) to give them the opportunity to expand upon their written work (as well as giving us an opportunity to assess their authorship).
A stand-alone oral examination may be offered as a replacement to mid-term or final examination (provided that they are recorded). In the latter case, students may be sent the oral exam questions in advance or quizzed on the spot, depending on your preference.
- Written examinations: Moodle allows exams to be timed and offered online. This may not work for all classes, however it may be an option for many. Alternatives involve generating a pool of questions to be randomly assigned to students; offering timed questions; use blocker software to prevent students from opening other windows when taking the exam.
9. How can I conduct a proctored online exam using Zoom?
Please find here a step by step guide prepared by our Rector Prof. Abdullah Atalar and a student instructions document by Prof. Erdal Arıkan. If you are planning to organize an examination for a bigger group of students, you may also find also Prof. Uğur Doğrusöz’s guidelines useful.
10. If we use timed take-home examinations or online written examinations in multi-section courses, hundreds of students will be uploading their work all at the same time. Does Moodle’s server capacity allow for this?
11. What happens if/when students cannot upload their times take-home or other written exams on time?
As above, when giving students deadlines, please keep in mind that our students may have limited access to the kind of hardware, internet bandwidth needed to submit work online. One idea may be to advise them to e-mail their work to the instructor immediately after they find out that they cannot upload their work before the deadline. Whatever policy you adopt, please make sure that it is clear and known to the students before the examination.
12. Considering the circumstances, can we opt for multiple choice examinations?
In those instances where multiple choice exams are available (from textbook publishers for example), thereby allowing the instructor to make use of a pool of questions that are randomly assigned to students, and the instructor is convinced that this allow him/her to better assess the students, multiple choice exams may be used only in the Spring 2020 semester.
13. Now that the students have the option of choosing a Pass/Fail grade for each of their courses, which grading scale shall I use?
We will use the same grade scale as before. Students, within three days of seeing their letter grade, will have the option of choosing a Pass/Fail grade in its stead. This should have no effect on our grading. The relevant decisions of the Bilkent University Senate can be found here: https://www.bilkent.edu/www/senato-kararlari/.
14. Has the deadline for submission of letter grades changed?
Yes. The new deadline is June 18, 2020.
15. Will there be Summer School?
Yes. The Summer School will be held in a distance learning format and all courses will be delivered synchronously through the Zoom platform.
16. Many companies/institutions have cancelled summer internship admissions. In case the lockdown extends into the Summer, what will happen?
Please see the the list of guidelines for summer internship at this link: https://www.bilkent.edu/bilkent/guidelines-for-summer-internship-during-the-pandemic/
17. I would like to set up a Zoom session for a thesis evaluation/proposal defense/thesis monitoring committee meetings. How can I book a room?
A service for reserving Zoom meeting rooms is under preparation at the moment. Please make sure that the meeting is recorded and that you submit that recording to your Department together with the relevant paperwork.
18. I am planning to ask my students to sign an honor pledge before submitting their project/examination. Does Bilkent University have one?
Here is a standard sentence that is relatively widely used: “I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this examination/assignment.” Here is the link to Bilkent University’s guidelines: https://www.bilkent.edu/bilkent/policy-on-conflicts-of-interest-and-commitment-academic-integrity/
If you are looking for more ideas about and resources for making a relatively smooth transition, you may want to look at the following resources:
- Here is a YouTube video prepared to guide students for Zoom-proctored exam: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH14w9JQ3eQ&t=3s).
- The University’s of Iowa’s guidelines: (https://teach.uiowa.edu/sites/teach.uiowa.edu/files/proctor_with_zoom.pdf).
- The University of California’s webpage, listing remote assessment and proctoring guidelines on all UC campuses: https://www.ucop.edu/innovative-learning-technology-initiative/covid19/remote-assessment-and-proctoring.html
- The Chronicle’s downloadable resource guide (https://connect.chronicle.com/CS-WC-2020-CoronavirusFreeReport_LP-SocialTraffic.html),
- University of Connecticut’s instructor strategies: (https://ecampus.uconn.edu/keep-teaching-strategies/),
- Stanford University’s ‘best practices guide: (https://teachanywhere.stanford.edu/best-practices),
- The University of Edinburgh’s ‘Teaching matters blog’: (https://www.teaching-matters-blog.ed.ac.uk/tag/alternative-assessment/),
- This ‘quick tech guide’ for online teaching: (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ux3lTnUTpzZRuvxE3rAsSQ4Ihub96S8_OYECNh8wv-A/edit#heading=h.fgw09mp7xsa1