Getting Started

What if I do not have internet access?

Please contact the CETL if you do not have access to the internet. Additional resource note: Comcast is offering specials to families in need. Please check the  Comcast Internet Essentials website

Does remote work require Virtual Private Network (VPN) access?

No, remote work does not require Virtual Private Network (VPN) access. Many people can perform the bulk of their work without VPN access. There are two primary remote work modalities:

Web only:
Many people will be able to work effectively with just web-based tools. Things like Blackboard, myMack, Google (Mail, Drive, Docs, Chat, etc), Slate, Handshake, Accommodate, Advocate, Qgive, and Terra Dotta do not require VPN access.

VPN Access:
VPN Access is only needed if the computer you’re using needs to directly access an on-campus resource. Things like CX, Cognos, Feith, Millennium, and the S: drive are only available via VPN. Campus data will only be as secure as the network and device being used at home. Please use caution.

If you need VPN access and are not currently authorized or are unsure which option is best for you, please email askit@merrimack.edu or call 978-837-3500.

I don’t have an iPad, laptop or personal computer at home. Are there loaners available?

There are a limited number of loaners available. Please email your request and needs to CETL@merrimack.edu.

What if I forgot my Merrimack password?

Please visit password.merrimack.edu to reset your password.

What if I forgot my Apple ID or need to create one?

Check the Apple Website for help.

What if my students don’t have access to their textbooks?

Some students may or may not have their textbooks. Please survey your students about what materials they have. The McQuade Library staff can work with students to get readings scanned if we can get a copy of the book, and we can try to purchase digital copies and provide links. If neither of these is possible, we can try to help students find content in our existing ebook, ejournal and streaming media collections. Please contact mcquade@merrimack.edu

What if I don’t have access to my textbooks?

The McQuade Library staff can work with individual faculty to get readings scanned if we can get a copy of the book, and we can try to purchase digital copies and provide links. If neither of these is possible, we can try to help faculty find content in our existing ebook, ejournal, and streaming media collections. Please contact mcquade@merrimack.edu.

Where can I find links to all of Merrimack’s Google services?

You can find MackApps here.

I’m having trouble with my Zoom connection. What should I do?

Because video consumes additional bandwidth and battery life,  you may need to connect with an ethernet cable. We also recommend you shut off video and work only in audio.

My device battery life is depleting quickly. What can I do?

Keep your device charged and plugged in while hosting your video calls.  Video can be a big battery drain.

Should I use the Blackboard app?

No. We recommend using the Chrome browser for easy and complete access to your course. 

What browser should I use? 

We recommend the Chrome browser. Please be sure it is updated.

Is there a way to work offline when using a mobile device?

Yes, you can enable Google Docs offline. If you are a Microsoft user you can work offline too. You can download articles, presentations, and scanned items directly to your computer saving them to your hard drive. If you are using an iPad you can find your downloads in “Documents”. If you use One Drive, check here. For Drop Box click here.

Remote Teaching

I am not presently using Blackboard Ultra, Google Classroom or iTunes U. What should I use?

Use Blackboard Ultra. Every course has a Blackboard shell that includes your class roster already created. Simply log in to Blackboard with your regular Merrimack credentials. You can log in using the link on the bottom of the Merrimack College main webpage.

Should I hold my course as synchronous or asynchronous?

Asynchronous e-learning is an on-demand student learning experience. In other words, participants communicate at different times from different places using the same communication tool. It is commonly facilitated by internet communications media such as e-mail and discussion boards using Blackboard. There may be more flexibility with asynchronous learning, as it makes it possible for learners to log on to Blackboard at any time to complete assignments made by their instructor. Instructors can give deadlines and set specific times in which assignments need to be completed.

Synchronous e-learning involves geographically dispersed students accessing the same website at the same time as an instructor. Participants communicate at the same time, from different locations using the same communication tool. Please note faculty must hold synchronous class sessions during their regularly scheduled times. This can be done with both Blackboard Collaborate or with Zoom depending on the preference of the instructor. Instructors can use this technology to drive the discussion or lecture, and students can participate in real-time.

Both asynchronous and synchronous approaches have their strengths and faculty can determine what works best for their students. To best accommodate all students, asynchronous sessions are recommended when possible. This allows for fluid and flexible instruction for students during a time of disruption, especially those who may be meeting from different time zones or those who have varying levels of access to reliable internet. If using both approaches, remember to provide a balance between asynchronous and synchronous tools and course materials. If you are struggling to determine your approach, please email the CETL

I want to meet at my regularly scheduled class time. How can I do this?

You can host a synchronous session with your class using Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate. Remember that all students may not be able to attend due to illness, power outage, internet access, etc. Both Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate can record your session(s). You can post or email the link to all students to review.  

If I want to hold a synchronous class or meeting, should I use Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom?

You should select a tool that you are most comfortable using. If both are new to you, reach out to the CETL for a recommendation or training.

Are there best practices for facilitating a synchronous class or meeting?

Yes. It is essential that your virtual class time is the same time that your students are regularly scheduled. Just like in face to face classes there will be students who may be unable to attend. Recording the session can help students stay current or catch up. Consider what the students will be doing during the live class. If they are listening to you for a majority of the time, consider offering that segment as a recorded video. Spend your time with students actively learning. Be sure you know how to do the basics in the web conferencing software: mute and unmute, using your webcam, how to share your screen, preparing a quiet space to meet with you students.

Where can I watch your training videos on remote technologies?

Please go to our Keep Teaching webpage to watch our training videos.

I usually pass out PDF’s for my students to review. How can I get these to them electronically?

Check to see if resources are available online or reach out to McQuade Library for assistance. If resources are not available you can try scanning them ( iPad scanning instructions ) and share via Blackboard, Google Docs or email. 

There are so MANY resources! How do I manage competing needs and expectations?

Moving to remote teaching requires balancing a lot of competing needs and expectations- a balancing act that can be stressful and require more emotional labor than usual. It’s OK not to aim for perfection during a time of certainty and constantly changing landscapes; allow flexibility in course planning, be transparent with students, and expect that mistakes and hiccups will happen! As you support your students, remember to seek support and assistance from your fellow instructors, department and college administrators, college support staff, as well as friends and family when you need it. 

 I have a plan for my course that does not include videos. Is it necessary to provide or create videos?

It depends. Consider whether video is necessary in all cases, given how streaming videos require strong internet connections, and how they can deplete data plans and memory on students’ (and your!) devices. Record lectures and virtual meetings so they can be downloaded and viewed by students later.

Should I provide transcripts and captions of audio and video? 

Yes. Doing so benefits not only students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but those who are participating in classes in noisy locations, those who don’t have headphones, and those who might have English as their second language. 

  • For class discussions, have students participate in the collaborative production of notes or live-type discussion notes in a shared Google document.
  • For live sessions: YouTube offer automatic captioning that, while imperfect, can increase access. 
  • For offline, recorded sessions: Zoom does not offer live-captioning, but captions are available if a Zoom session is recorded and viewed later. Panopto video service imports auto captions. 
  • Provide narrations of the material you’re presenting on the screen (for example, describing a diagram, chart, or photograph) for students who are blind, have difficulty reading on a computer screen, or who are otherwise unable to view the video or slides.

Zoom

I’m having trouble with my Zoom connection. What should I do?

Because video consumes additional bandwidth and battery life,  you may need to connect with an ethernet cable. We also recommend you shut off video and work only in audio.

My device battery life is depleting quickly. What can I do?

Keep your device charged and plugged in while hosting your video calls.  Video can be a big battery drain.

How do I join a Zoom meeting and configure audio and video?

What is Zoombombing?

Zoombombing is a new form of trolling in which an unwanted or unwelcome participant uses Zoom’s screensharing feature to interrupt and disrupt meetings and classes. Please visit our Zoombombing Resources page for more information. 

Where can I watch your training videos on remote technologies?

Please go to our Keep Teaching webpage to watch our training videos.

Where can I find instructions on how to use Zoom?

It is important to activate the Zoom Enterprise account through the link sent to your email. This link brings you to Zoom Enterprise, which has more features. This is essential as it allows for longer sessions, breakout rooms and other tools. Click on the links below and share instructions with your students if necessary.

Can I still see my students when I am screensharing on Zoom?

Yes, you can! Go to this link for more information. 

How do I change the video layout in Zoom?

Do I need to obtain written consent from my students to record on Zoom or Collaborate?

Online Class Recordings Including Only the Professor

A recording of an online class that contains only the professor:

  1. does not require student consent and
  2. can be made available as a reasonable accommodation (or otherwise as necessary).

If the recording (either by video or audio) includes only the professor (and the professor has consented to the recording), there are no legal implications that would require students in the course to consent to the recording. If a recording includes only the professor, it is not a student record and FERPA does not limit its use. Additionally, Massachusetts state law would not prohibit the professor from recording him/herself and distributing the recording to students in the course who require it as a reasonable accommodation. 

Online Class Recordings Including Professor and Student Participation

A recording of an online class that contains the professor and student participation:

  1. does not require student consent and
  2. can be made available to those students enrolled in the course who are entitled to it as a reasonable accommodation (or otherwise, if necessary).

If the recording includes student participation, FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining consent as long as the recording is made available only to those students enrolled in the course. Additionally, student consent to the recording of their participation in the class is not required under Massachusetts law, specifically the Massachusetts Wiretap Act. The recording of the course, including student participation, is not being made in “secret” as both the students and the professor have actual knowledge of the recording. 

How can I share my Zoom recordings in Blackboard?

After you launch Zoom, you will see a record button. There is an arrow next to the record button. Pushing the button gives you two choices: Record to Cloud or Record to Computer. Select Record to Cloud. As soon as your meeting has ended, your video will begin rendering. You will be able to get a shareable link on Zoom.us - My Account - Recordings. This is the link you should place in your Blackboard class.  

Should I record my online sessions?

Yes. Recordings can be downloaded to your computer and are then available to post for those students who cannot attend due to illness, time zone differentiations, etc. Additionally, recording sessions will assist us in documenting hours of instructional time necessary for external accreditors. Zoom and Collaborate all record.

Can I still use Team Based Learning (TBL) in my remote classroom?

While we are encouraging faculty to “keep things simple” during this time of disruption, you could use the break out rooms in Zoom and Collaborate for the purposes of group and team-based work.

Should I provide transcripts and captions of audio and video? 

Yes. Doing so benefits not only students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but those who are participating in classes in noisy locations, those who don’t have headphones, and those who might have English as their second language. 

  • For class discussions, have students participate in the collaborative production of notes or live-type discussion notes in a shared Google document.
  • For live sessions: YouTube offer automatic captioning that, while imperfect, can increase access. 
  • For offline, recorded sessions: Zoom does not offer live-captioning, but captions are available if a Zoom session is recorded and viewed later. Panopto video service imports auto captions. 
  • Provide narrations of the material you’re presenting on the screen (for example, describing a diagram, chart, or photograph) for students who are blind, have difficulty reading on a computer screen, or who are otherwise unable to view the video or slides.

Collaborate

Where can I watch your training videos on remote technologies?

Please go to our Keep Teaching webpage to watch our training videos.

Where can I find instructions on how to use Blackboard Collaborate?

Click on the links below and share instructions with all of your students. Ask all participants to review and test their computers and volume ahead of time. Zoom and Collaborate can deplete battery life quickly. Remember to keep devices charged and updated.

Do I need to obtain written consent from my students to record on Zoom or Collaborate?

Online Class Recordings Including Only the Professor

A recording of an online class that contains only the professor:

  1. does not require student consent and
  2. can be made available as a reasonable accommodation (or otherwise as necessary).

If the recording (either by video or audio) includes only the professor (and the professor has consented to the recording), there are no legal implications that would require students in the course to consent to the recording. If a recording includes only the professor, it is not a student record and FERPA does not limit its use. Additionally, Massachusetts state law would not prohibit the professor from recording him/herself and distributing the recording to students in the course who require it as a reasonable accommodation. 

Online Class Recordings Including Professor and Student Participation

A recording of an online class that contains the professor and student participation:

  1. does not require student consent and
  2. can be made available to those students enrolled in the course who are entitled to it as a reasonable accommodation (or otherwise, if necessary).

If the recording includes student participation, FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining consent as long as the recording is made available only to those students enrolled in the course. Additionally, student consent to the recording of their participation in the class is not required under Massachusetts law, specifically the Massachusetts Wiretap Act. The recording of the course, including student participation, is not being made in “secret” as both the students and the professor have actual knowledge of the recording. 

How can I share my Collaborate session in Blackboard?

Students can check for recordings in the Details and Actions section of the course homepage. Click the three dots to the right of Blackboard Collaborate to view all recordings. You can also email or post the link as well.

Should I record my online sessions?

Yes. Recordings can be downloaded to your computer and are then available to post for those students who cannot attend due to illness, time zone differentiations, etc. Additionally, recording sessions will assist us in documenting hours of instructional time necessary for external accreditors. Zoom and Collaborate all record.

Can I still use Team Based Learning (TBL) in my remote classroom?

While we are encouraging faculty to “keep things simple” during this time of disruption, you could use the break out rooms in Zoom and Collaborate for the purposes of group and team-based work.

Panopto

Where can I watch your training videos on remote technologies?

Please go to our Keep Teaching webpage to watch our training videos.

What is the Panopto video platform and Merrimack’s Panopto terms of use?

One of the key online communication technologies available to Merrimack College faculty and students to assist in maintaining continuity of education during remote teaching and learning is the Panopto Video Platform (“Panopto”). Panopto is a video hosting service that faculty and students can use to record and upload lectures, narrated slide presentations and other content.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus necessitating a transition from on-campus to online learning at Merrimack College, all students will be granted access and permitted to create and upload content using the Panopto platform during the remainder of the spring 2020 academic semester.

All students creating and uploading content in Panopto are bound by Merrimack College policies, including the Acceptable Use Policy for Technology in the Student Handbook, as well as Panopto’s Terms of Service.

Merrimack faculty must instruct students on this policy and post the language below inside their Blackboard or Google Classroom shell.

Faculty are responsible for ensuring that any and all content created and uploaded by students in their courses complies with Merrimack College policies and Panopto’s Terms of Service. 

Acceptable Use Policy (to be posted)

  • DO use Panopto to:
    • Upload course-related work
    • Build unique content and collaborate with peers.
  • Do NOT Use Panopto to:
    • Upload content that is illegal in any way
    • Store files for personal or commercial reasons that are not affiliated with Merrimack College
    • Upload content that is not meant to be shared publicly, or content that could “go viral”
    • Post content that is hateful, derogatory or otherwise harmful

Merrimack College has the right to remove student content from Panopto if it is deemed to violate any policies set forth by Merrimack College or Panopto’s Terms of Service. Content that is hateful, derogatory or violates Merrimack College’s Student Handbook, or other policies or procedures is not permitted and will be subject to further action. Faculty are directed to the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s (CETL) Continuity of Education website for more information on Panopto.

How do I record my powerpoint lectures with voice and post them for students to watch?

  • You can do this using Panopto, on a PC or a Mac
  • Steps to add narration to your PowerPoint
  • Steps to add narration to your Keynote

I want my students to record videos. Should they use Panopto?

Students can now use Panopto. All students creating and uploading content in Panopto are bound by Merrimack College policies, including the Acceptable Use Policy for Technology in the Student Handbook, as well as Panopto’s Terms of Service.

Merrimack faculty must instruct students on this policy and post the language below inside their Blackboard or Google Classroom shell.

Faculty are responsible for ensuring that any and all content created and uploaded by students in their courses complies with Merrimack College policies and Panopto’s Terms of Service. 

Acceptable Use Policy (to be posted)

  • DO use Panopto to:
    • Upload course-related work
    • Build unique content and collaborate with peers.
  • Do NOT Use Panopto to:
    • Upload content that is illegal in any way
    • Store files for personal or commercial reasons that are not affiliated with Merrimack College
    • Upload content that is not meant to be shared publicly, or content that could “go viral”
    • Post content that is hateful, derogatory or otherwise harmful

Merrimack College has the right to remove student content from Panopto if it is deemed to violate any policies set forth by Merrimack College or Panopto’s Terms of Service. Content that is hateful, derogatory or violates Merrimack College’s Student Handbook, or other policies or procedures is not permitted and will be subject to further action. Faculty are directed to the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s (CETL) Continuity of Education website for more information on Panopto.

Should I provide transcripts and captions of audio and video? 

Yes. Doing so benefits not only students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, but those who are participating in classes in noisy locations, those who don’t have headphones, and those who might have English as their second language. 

  • For class discussions, have students participate in the collaborative production of notes or live-type discussion notes in a shared Google document.
  • For live sessions: YouTube offer automatic captioning that, while imperfect, can increase access. 
  • For offline, recorded sessions: Zoom does not offer live-captioning, but captions are available if a Zoom session is recorded and viewed later. Panopto video service imports auto captions. 
  • Provide narrations of the material you’re presenting on the screen (for example, describing a diagram, chart, or photograph) for students who are blind, have difficulty reading on a computer screen, or who are otherwise unable to view the video or slides.

Student Access to Technology/Class Materials

How do I know if my students have access to the technology they need, including equipment, internet and software?

Ask your students.  Have students express their needs to you privately or in such a way that does not induce discomfort. Use this information to tailor the pedagogy and technology choices to best meet the needs of all students.

How will I know if my students have challenges accessing the technology I choose?

Whenever possible, offer flexibility or alternatives to students, especially when access is an issue. If you have any questions, contact the Academic Success Center at asc@merrimack.edu

What if my students don’t have access to their textbooks?

Students may or may not have their books. If they do not have access to their books, please contact mcquade@merrimack.edu. This mailbox is monitored 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. The McQuade Library staff can work with individual faculty to get readings scanned if we can get a copy of the book, and we can try to purchase digital copies and provide links. If neither of these is possible, we can try to help faculty find content in our existing ebook, ejournal, and streaming media collections.

Engaging/Assessing Your Students

I’m worried about my students! What if my students are falling behind and/or appear disengaged?

Contact the Academic Success Center at ASC@merrimack.edu.

How do I maintain the integrity of my assessments when students are remote?

Merrimack already has tools embedded in Blackboard that can assist with integrity: Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor. Please review the Respondus Resources here. Please note: Respondus is integrated in Blackboard. It is not integrated in Google Classroom. Blackboard also has a built-in plagiarism tool called SafeAssign.

What if I don’t have enough grades to submit a midterm grade?  

The midterm grade is a measure of each student’s performance at that point in the semester. The Academic Success Center and its advisors rely on midterm grades to know which students to contact.

Mental Health and Wellness

How can I submit CARE Reports?

The CARE Team at Merrimack College is dedicated to the health and success of each student academically, socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The purpose of the team is to identify and develop a plan for those students that may be experiencing more than ordinary issues and may need a member of the campus community to check-in or offer assistance in some way. The CARE Team utilizes a vast network of faculty and staff from across campus and identifies the key people who are best served to help students problem solve and succeed.

Our CARE reporting system is up and running as usual. Please file a CARE report on any student about whom you are concerned. In this remote learning environment, this will especially include students who are disengaged or who appear to have “disappeared” from your course interaction.

Learn More

Submit a CARE Report 

How can my students access mental health and counseling services?

Counseling services from our staff at Hamel Health will be available to students for teletherapy services beginning, Monday, March 23. Please call Hamel at 978-837-5441 to schedule an appointment via Zoom. 

Please review our Mental Health and Wellness Resources page for additional information. 

Any concerns you have about students can also be directed to:

  1. Sean Condon at condonj@merrimack.edu or 978-837-5599 

  2. Peter Ellard at ellardp@merrimack.edu or 978-837-5755

  3. officeoftheprovost@merrimack.edu 

  4. ASC@Merrimack.edu 

  5. taskforce@merrimack.edu 

Experiential Learning

How might I provide an alternative experience to the actual hands-on lab and address same learning objectives?

Laboratory learning experiences are designed to help students master a task, observe a phenomenon, dissect or manipulate a specimen, create computer programs, design experiments, or do a variety of other activities to help address course learning objectives. The thought of replacing this real-life experience with an online replacement may not be the best scenario, but under certain circumstances, there are some reasonable replacement options.

My course has experiential components. How do I plan for this in a virtual environment?

Some courses have essential components that may be challenging to replicate in an online environment. Many courses require students to engage in community-based fieldwork in specialized settings. In these cases, faculty should think creatively with their disciplinary colleagues whether elements of these activities can be adapted under the circumstances, alternative activities could be offered using virtual tools, or certain activities may need to be postponed until the campus returns to standard operation.

Always consult with your department Chair or Dean when making decisions that may affect accreditation or a students’ ability to successfully complete the course.

Accessibility Services

How can I ensure my students’ accessibility accommodations are supported?

Merrimack will continue to support all students who are signed up with the ASO. We have already communicated with these students. The expectation is that all current accommodations will continue - with some changes to adjust for the remote learning environment. The ASO will have a revised procedure for the Testing Center as it will be necessary to be in direct support of the students and their instructors. If you have questions about a specific student, please email the ASO at accessibilityservices@merrimack.edu 

More Information for Faculty 

How can I ensure materials are accessible and mobile-friendly?

PDFs are generally more accessible for students with disabilities who may rely on screen-readers. PDFs adapt to different devices and cell phones more readily than other formats. 

Library/Research Services

What if I need help from a McQuade librarian on a research assignment?

McQuade Library offers “Ask a Librarian” and virtual research assistance services through https://www.merrimack.edu/library/contact.php. Feel free to email a librarian at or set up an appointment at https://mcquade.youcanbook.me/. Once you set up an appointment, a librarian will reach out to you and figure out the best way to meet with you (via Zoom, Google Hangouts, phone call, etc.)

You can also Instant message chat with a McQuade librarian. On the library’s homepage, enter your question in the chatbox and a McQuade Librarian (not an automated bot) will respond in between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. at night. 


I am a faculty member and need help with a class I am teaching, or with research support. How can I get help?

Reach out to your library liaison and she will respond as quickly as possible to any email requests. If you need help right away, chat with the librarian on duty via the library’s website or send an email to mcquade@merrimack.edu. Services for faculty are located at http://libguides.merrimack.edu/faculty_resources

Tutoring

What tutoring services are available to my students?

Writing Center Support

All writing tutoring, whether with consultants or with Writing Fellows attached to your specific courses, will take place via WC Online’s synchronous online interface, found at merrimack.mywconline.com. If you need, preview this video to learn how to access WCOnline: https://youtu.be/G7whXuRre_o. If you have questions or concerns about access, please email writingcenter@merrimack.edu.

Tutoring & Math Center Support

All Math related tutoring will take place in Zoom. Instructions and video support for access to those spaces will be provided on the Tutoring & Math Center webpage, located at https://www.merrimack.edu/academics/academic-success-center/tutoring-and-math-center/. If you have questions about Study Partners, please email mathcenter@merrimack.edu.

Campuswide Tutoring Support

Campuswide tutoring will continue to occur as much as possible using a variety of media. Some tutoring is being moved into WCOnline. Some is being moved into Zoom. Still more, especially where Fellows in Math and Economics are concerned, will be embedded in Blackboard course pages. The Campuswide Tutoring Calendar, found at https://www.merrimack.edu/academics/academic-success-center/21c/campus-wide-tutoring/, will be continuously updated as we learn more about tutorial offerings from supervisors around campus. If you have specific questions about tutorial offerings, please email tutoring@merrimack.edu.