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NowComment Online Transition Guide

Author: NowComment

NowComment Online Transition Guide
How to Take Your Instruction Online in 60 minutes

NowComment, a group discussion tool for online multimedia documents, is an excellent tool for coping with the sudden coronavirus crisis:

  • It’s free, very reliable (10+ years of classroom use all over the world), and works on any Internet-connected computer or smartphone
  • Easy to use (with students as young as 2nd grade)
  • Groups can discuss text, video, and images (all can be integrated in the same online document)

Does NowComment Offer the Instructional Capabilities You Need?

Learning to Use NowComment

Here’s an easy step-by-step sequence to get your students working on their first NowComment document:

  1. Create a NowComment account for yourself (1 minute)
  2. Create a NowComment Group for each Group of people you want to work with, whether all students in a course, smaller student workgroup, peer or peer collaborators (1 minute per Group)
  3. For each NowComment Group, upload your Excel/CSV roster (~2 minutes) or invite them via copy-and-pasting email addresses (depends on how many students)
  1. Upload an existing MS Word or HTML document or a video or an image; most but not all PDFs can be converted to HTML so don’t start with a PDF. (2 minutes). As part of the upload, you can optionally choose to take advantage of special NowComment features (e.g. hiding students’ comments from their classmates but not you for brainstorming or test-taking purposes, setting end dates and times for commenting, requiring a certain number of copies)
  2. Make some comments of your own to model what you’re looking for (usually 1-2 comments a minute, how long and how many up to you)
  3. Optional— Flag students about any key sections by making a comment telling them what to pay attention to (1-2 comments a minute)
  4. Share your commented document with one or more NowComment Groups by “Inviting” them to the document (2 minutes); you can copy your document to multiple groups (and copy over your comments or not as you choose).

Subtle Aspects of Successful Transitioning Online

Nowcomment won’t let you down; keeping a positive mindset will be the biggest challenge! Here’s some advice from last week’s Teachers Teaching Teachers webinar on pedagogical aspects of this transition:

Manage Expectations: You’re about to pull off this transition with little advance notice, prep time, or help from Administration; it won’t go perfectly, you can’t prepare for all the eventualities, and that’s OK. Take it a day at a time. Some aspects of face-to-face classroom won’t immediately translate online (e.g. fully proctored testing, taking attendance).

Reassure your students (who may be freaking out too, especially those without good Internet access) — Communicate the “it’ll be OK” attitude to them: we’re all in this new adventure together, we need to be patient and resilient with each other, we’ll make it through together. Be warm (smile a lot) and try to gently ease students into the online experience rather than abruptly dive into full-blown coursework. Invest in a good microphone, give them models of the kind of comments you’re looking for, let them know about the videos and other resources above.

Online tools like NowComment give you teaching flexibility — One safe starting point is to just record a video lecture, upload it to a server (e.g. your school, YouTube, Vimeo), and then share it in NowComment; students will enjoy the agency of choosing when (by some deadline) to watch it and interacting with their peers. As you and they get more comfortable you can use NowComment to mix in some small group assignments (e.g. they can upload documents for peer review).

Supplement NowComment with other tools — You can use Zoom video conferences, Facetime text chats, and other tools to give your students what they need (e.g. 1:1 time with you or small group live interactions).

If you have Questions or Concerns

DMU Timestamp: May 11, 2020 21:16

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Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

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