Teaching Online During University Closures

Both planned and unplanned events may prevent classes and labs from meeting at their usual time and location.  Schedule interruptions can create some difficulties, but they also present us with opportunities for growth, empowerment, and to develop a collective sense of resilience, and community. 

This page contains recommendations for leveraging existing campus technology such as Canvas, WebEx, and Kaltura for instructors who need to facilitate their courses online. 

The Center for Teaching and Learning is firmly committed to teaching excellence and will strive to support all instructors working to address this matter.

Get Started in Canvas 

Your course already has a shell in Canvas. If you haven’t yet used it, it’s waiting for you to add your content and student activities. Once you’ve added materials and activities, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve published the course and that the access dates for the course are correct. 

Create and Grade Assignments

Anything that is collected in class on paper can be accepted digitally through an assignment box in Canvas. Typically, assignment boxes in Canvas are for the submission of papers and projects.

Resources for Adding New Assignments:

Grading Assignments:

Quizzes and Tests

Most exams that you offer in paper-based formats can be transferred into Canvas. Canvas refers to quizzes and tests interchangeably. Once you have your questions ready to go, Canvas provides options for you to select time limits, number of allowed attempts, and how and when students can view feedback. All of these options can help ensure the academic integrity of your exam.

Resources for Adding New Quizzes:

Grading Quizzes:

Online Discussion

If your course is discussion based, Canvas discussions offer an alternative to continuing those discussions online. Online discussions require clear instructions and guidelines, as well as prompts that encourage back and forth interaction between students. 

Resources for Adding a Discussion:

Facilitating and Grading Discussions: 

Providing Videos & Materials on Canvas

If students in your course received information and material primarily through course lectures, look for replacement content that already exists first before creating your own video lectures. When identifying resources to use in your course, preference those that contain accurate closed captioning to ensure accessibility for all students.
  1. Types of Online Instructional Videos
  2. Preparing Instructional Videos
  3. Presenting Instructional Videos in Canvas

Communicating with Students

Continuing regular communication with your students during times of disruption is especially important. In addition to email, you have access to a variety of tools that can make communicating with students easier. 

Teaching Synchronously Online

Synchronous online courses happen in real time and involve a mixture of traditional lecture and online activities. If your course is primarily lecture based, this may be the closest replacement strategy to face to face courses.

With WebEx, a synchronous meeting tool, you can meet, learn and collaborate from anywhere you have access to a mobile device, tablet, or computer and an Internet connection using multi-way audio and video, application sharing, and content display.  All WebEx Training Center sessions are recordable, so instructors can record sessions and those unable to attend the live meeting can playback the session at a later time.

Instructors and students can open live sessions directly from their Canvas courses for classes, virtual office hours, problem-solving sessions and more. Students can view and download recordings from Canvas courses as well.

Finding Your Comfort Zone

We believe that the best way to address the loss of class time is to consider your comfort level with using synchronous and asynchronous tools for course content delivery. We strongly recommend that you use technologies and tools with which you are already familiar and comfortable. Learning new technologies is very empowering and can make you a more confident instructor. However, using new approaches usually involves unforeseen and unplanned for complications and set-backs that should be avoided particularly at times when there are time constraints.

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a wide range of learning opportunities for learning and implementing new instructional approaches or developing skills with the use of instructional software. We have regularly scheduled workshops and “drop-in” learning opportunities. We also offer phone support for Canvas and other tools and individual consultations are available. Please visit the Center for Teaching and Learning's event and workshop registration site https://ctl.gosignmeup.com to view our scheduled events and workshop times.