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Instructor Guide: Micro-Courses

Guidance for instructors teaching in the Open Source Technology Management program


Approximately two months before the micro-course begins, the Rabb team will create the course in LATTE and enroll you as the instructor. Once you have been notified that the course is ready for you, you can start updating the course and the materials.

This page outlines each item you need to create or update to prepare your course and a recommended timeframe for doing so. We strongly recommend working through the items according to the timeline rather than waiting until the last minute.

IMPORTANT Many boxes in this guide contain multiple tabs, each with important information. Make sure you click on each tab to update all items completely.

Review Course

As soon as you have access to your course

Once you have access to the course in LATTE, take some time to familiarize yourself with the course even if you’ve taught it before. Open all of the sections, click each of the links, and read through the assignment and evaluation criteria. Please update any typos or broken links that you encounter. If there are any egregious errors, please let Andie and/or Ashley know.

After your initial review of the course, work through each item in this guide to update and prepare your course.

Update the Syllabus

Six weeks before the course starts

  • Open your upcoming course in the Faculty Teaching Materials folder. This is where you should save every document you're sharing with your students during your course. You have control over the folder, but sharing centrally guarantees the course can run regardless of who's teaching. If you don't have access, contact Andie immediately. 
  • Pull a copy of the syllabus, either from the LATTE course or from the Faculty Teaching Materials folder. Save it in your term's folder. Update.
  • Compare to template to make sure you have all sections and required language. This may have been updated since the course was last taught
  • Check that the folder is set to anyone at Brandeis with the link can view.
  • Update LATTE

IMPORTANT If you do not have access to the Syllabus Template or the Faculty Teaching Materials folder, contact Andie immediately.

Update Content in LATTE

Four weeks before the course starts

  • Section 0 - headshot and name (if applicable)
  • Overview text
  • Hide old recording link and slides link if placeholder is still showing from the last time the course was offered
  • Check all links before the course starts - do they all work?
  • Update section restrict access dates
  • Assignment due dates: Edit settings > Availability > Due date. 23:59 on the day it’s due. Won’t restrict late submissions, only shows it on the calendar
  • Groups

Copying and Pasting Text into LATTE

IMPORTANT Be careful when copying and pasting text into LATTE! Text copied from Google Docs, Microsoft Word, emails, and most websites will almost always copy some of the underlying code and formatting from the original location in addition to the text. When you paste this text into your LATTE course, that code will be pasted as well. This can cause issues with how your text appears, your ability to edit or style the text, and sometimes even lead to serious display problems with your entire course! To avoid these problems, you can:

  1. Type directly into the text editor. This is the best way to ensure you don't add any unexpected code/formatting into your course. You can format your text directly in LATTE using the buttons above the text editor (e.g., bold text, hyperlinks).
  2. Paste as plain text. This will strip all coding and formatting from the text. You can reapply the stripped formatting directly in LATTE using the buttons above the text editor (e.g., bold text, hyperlinks). To paste as plain text:
    • In Chrome, Edge, or Firefox: press Ctrl + Shift + V (Windows) or Cmd + Shift + V (Mac)
    • In Safari: press Cmd + Option + Shift + V
    • Alternative option in Windows: right click in the text editor then select Paste as plain text from the menu
  3. Advanced option: Use the HTML editor. If you are comfortable modifying HTML code, you can paste text into the HTML editor then apply your formatting through code or the WYSIWYG editor.

Determine Availability for Weekly Meetings

Three weeks before the course starts

Each OSTM micro-course includes a weekly 60-minute live discussion session on Zoom. Evaluate your schedule and email Andie D’Agostino your availability for these sessions. Keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Brandeis is based in Eastern Time and all official communication from the program will use that timezone.
  • Students have joined OSTM courses from Europe and all over the continental US. Being flexible in your availability outside of normal working hours may enable more students to join live.
  • To maximize program flow, we recommend scheduling the course meetings on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. If your schedule only allows for Mondays or Thursdays, that can work but you will need to be very intentional with your weekly communication with the students.
  • There are five live meetings per micro-course: four regular meetings and one wrap up meeting.
  • Your class will meet at the same time and day for all five sessions.

Students will respond to your availability via a Doodle poll to determine the time and day for the weekly meeting. Andie will send you the final decision of the day and time once the students have chosen. 

Create the Element Room

Two weeks before the course starts

Element is the open source chat room that the OSTM micro-courses use to facilitate casual conversations between and among faculty and students.

Create a unique course room for your upcoming course according to the linked guide. Students will join the room once the micro-course opens.

IMPORTANT Make sure you've disabled the end-to-end encryption so students can join using the room link.

After configuring the room, update the LATTE course with the new room link in the following places:

  1. Course header - Update the link for both the icon and text for Course chat. Do not change the icon or the text.
  2. Getting Started section - Edit the “Join the course chat room” URL resource under the “Task 2: Join the course chat on Element” subheading. Only edit the external URL, do not edit the name.

Prepare the Weekly Zoom Meeting

One week before the course starts

After you receive the decision of the day and time that the students have chosen, create a recurring Zoom meeting room for all five course sessions. Although not open source, we use Zoom for its features that make virtual meetings more accessible for students with disabilities and non-native English speakers.

Due to the length of the instructions for creating the meeting and updating LATTE, make sure you click through each of the tabs in this box to cover each step. The final tab includes additional resources that you may find helpful but are not required to view.

  1. Sign in to the Brandeis Zoom web portal using your UNet credentials..
  2. In the navigation panel, click Meetings.
  3. Click the Schedule a Meeting button.
  4. Enter your course name as the meeting topic. For example: Cultivate an Open Source Community.
  5. Enter the date and start time of the Week 1 meeting based on the results of the Doodle poll. Set the duration for 1 hr 0 min.
  6. Below the Time Zone option, check the box for the Recurring meeting option.
  7. Set the recurrence settings. Recurrence: Weekly. Repeat every 1 week. After 5 occurrences. The Occurs on setting will depend on your selected day.
  8. Optional: Select the Security and Video settings that you prefer.
  9. Recommended: Enable the Automatically record meeting meeting option to always have the entire session recorded. You can trim the recording before sharing it with students.
  10. Click the blue Schedule button.

After configuring the meeting, update the LATTE course with the meeting information and/or link in the following places:

Getting Started - Entry Survey

  1. Expand the Getting Started section of your course. Scroll to the bottom of the section and click on the Entry Survey activity.
  2. From the main page of the activity, click on the blue gear icon in the upper right corner of the main section then click gear Questions.
  3. Locate the question about the time and day for the weekly meetings. In most courses, this will be the question in position 6. Click the gear icon.
  4. Edit the question text to reflect the day and time selected by the students. Do not change any other text or settings on this page.
  5. Click the blue Save changes button.

Weekly Sections

Update the Zoom meeting link and information for each week.

  1. Turn editing on for the course.
  2. To the right of the Zoom Meeting activity, click Edit then Edit settings.
  3. Update the External URL and Description. Change the link, timing, and connectivity information to match your new meeting. If you choose to have a password for your meeting, add the password to the connectivity information. You do not need to include the full connectivity information that Zoom generates, only what's already in your course. 
  4. Scroll down and expand the Common module settings section. Change the Availability to Show on course page if not already set to that.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and click the blue Save and return to course button.
  6. Repeat for each of the 5 weeks of the course.

In your Brandeis Google calendar, create a recurring meeting for all five weeks. You can either add the Zoom information or note that the connection information is in LATTE. Once the course starts, students will opt in to being added to this calendar invitation. 

If you have the Zoom Chrome extension, you may be able to create the Google meeting first and edit the settings in Zoom afterwards. If you choose to do this, be very sure that you have selected all of the correct settings.

Double check that your Brandeis Zoom account is properly configured for cloud recording and automatic transcripts before your first meeting.

  1. Sign in to the Brandeis Zoom web portal using your UNet credentials.
  2. In the navigation panel, click Settings.
  3. Navigate to the Recording tab and verify that the Cloud recording setting is enabled. If the setting is disabled, click the toggle to enable it.
  4. Under Advanced cloud recording settings, verify that the box next to Audio transcript is checked/enabled.
  5. Under Allow cloud recording sharing, verify that the setting is enabled. If the setting is disabled, click the toggle to enable it.
  6. Optional: You may choose to enable Automatic recording by clicking the toggle to enable it. You can also enable this for the recurring course meeting rather than at the account level.

Welcome Announcement

At least three days before the course starts

The Course Announcements forum allows you to push emails to all enrolled students. You are required to send a Welcome Message on the first Sunday before the course starts to introduce yourself and set expectations for the course. We recommend scheduling this message in advance for flexibility (see the next tab for instructions). 

The exact content of the Welcome Message is up to you. We recommend including:

  1. An overview of the course structure (e.g., topics covered, weekly activities)
  2. The date and time of the weekly Zoom meeting
  3. How students can reach you
  4. First steps to get started 

 IMPORTANT You must open the course before sending any announcements. If scheduling announcements, you must open the course before the display start date of the Welcome Message.

You can send announcements instantly or schedule them in advance. Scheduling announcements gives you the flexibility to send messages at a set time, even when you're busy with something else. The announcement will be stored in LATTE but hidden from students until the display time. There is no limit to the number of announcements you can schedule.

  1. Access the Course News & Announcements forum at the top of the course
  2. Click the blue Add a new topic button
  3. Type the subject line and message (order can be switched with step 4)
  4. Click the Advanced link (order can be switched with step 3)
    Click the Advanced link
  5. Expand the Display period settings if not already expanded
  6. Enable Display Start. Set it to the date and time that students can see the post.
  7. Do not enable Display End.
  8. Click the blue Post to forum button

Final Course Review

Two days before the course starts

Before opening the course to students, do one final review of the course to ensure everything is set up correctly. You should check:

  • The date restrictions for each weekly section
  • The date restrictions for each Knowledge Check
  • The due dates in each forum activity
  • The text and icon links for the Syllabus and Course Chat in the course header
  • Your welcome text in Getting Started
  • The Zoom link and connection information is correct and visible each week
  • The recording and slide placeholder links are all hidden
  • Do each of the resource links work and open the expected page?
  • Permissions of your course folder in the Faculty Teaching Materials area of the OSTM Shared Drive

Open the Course

Two days before the course starts

All courses are hidden by default so students cannot access them before they are ready. Faculty are responsible for opening their own courses before they begin. While there is no required date or time to open the course, we recommend doing so on or before Saturday.

 IMPORTANT You must open the course before sending any announcements. If scheduling announcements, you must open the course before the display start date of the Welcome Message.

  1. Click the Actions menu  icon in the upper right corner of your course then click Edit settings.
    Click the settings gear then click Edit settings
  2. Change the Course visibility from Hide to Show.
    change course visibility from Hide to Show
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the blue Save and display button.