Skip to Main Content
Spalding University Library Logo

Center for Teaching & Learning


Before Course Launch: What Can You Do Now?

Michelle Miller (2019) and Karen Gonzalez Rice, Jessica McCullough, and Anthony Graesch (2019) detail some recommendations:

Evaluate and consider streamlining or adapting your curricular objectives.  What are the most essential learning outcomes for your course? Some outcomes are mapped onto physical spaces, equipment, and activities that are more challenging to adapt to virtual spaces and modes of interaction. Think about key objectives, accessibility, and transparency. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

Examine your course assignments for the coming weeks. Are they accessible online using the LMS assignment tool? Are instructions and ancillary materials accessible for students? Do assignment instructions note due dates and submission instructions?

Canvas Assignment

Decide what you’re going to do about any high-stakes assessments, particularly exams. If exams play a majority of the course total grades, perhaps take another route to summative assessment for the course.  Replace an in-person exam with some type of project that is easier to personalize and less dependent on proctoring. The LMS quiz feature with customized settings such as condensed overall exam time allotment or password-per-student may be online recommendations.

Canvas Quiz

Keep it simple. If possible, avoid adopting too many forms of digital tech with which you have little familiarity or prior experiences. Stick as much as possible with what you already know.  Remember the staples: shared Google Docs are a great space to engage collaborative writing; discussion forums afford opportunity for asynchronous conversations between students and instructors.

Canvas Discussion Forum

How will you give feedback on their progress? Consider how students will be able to practice the key skills and objectives you want them to get out of the course — things they would normally do in class. Class announcements and discussion forums are tools accessible within every LMS course shell. Consistent grading feedback, especially using rubrics, is ideal for heightening instructor-student interaction.

Canvas Rubrics

Be intentional and transparent. Choose digital tech that allows you to achieve a curricular goal and/or allows student participants to achieve a learning outcome.  Communicate how these technologies fit into the context of assignment goals, the ways that the students will engage the assignment, and how you plan to assess their work/contributions.

Review your course materials. Examine all readings, videos, problem sets, quizzes, and the like are accessible online.  Link to copyrighted course materials whenever possible to be in copyright compliance. This includes the course syllabus.

What do you normally use your in-class time for? Try to define what you do in class at a higher, more goal-oriented level (e.g., presentation of content, checking for understanding, collaborative project work — instead of just saying "lecture," "quiz," "discussion").

Virtual presentation tools such as Canvas Studio, recorded Powerpoints, and lecture capture can be alternatives.

Virtual meeting tools may be used as well but consider not every student will attend your session, so determine your class policy about synchronous meeting attendance. You may consider students attend X number of total synchronous meetings to fulfill attendance requirements.

Still need help? Feel free to schedule a consultation with a librarian

Gonzalez Rice, K., McCullough, J., and Graesch, A. (2019). Eleven teaching-focused things to consider when moving your course online

Miller, M. (2019, March 9). Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start? 


My Class Has Started. Now What?

We don’t know what we’re doing!  And that’s OK!  Many of us don't have expertise in online teaching, and few if any of us have experience suddenly transitioning from a face-to-face course to a fully online course. Weekly class announcements help build a virtual connection.

Canvas Conferences

Canvas: Record a video using Rich Content Editor

Reassure students that we will figure it out together.  Acknowledge the big feelings involved with a closed campus, disrupted term, and the general anxiety of this uncertain time.  If you feel comfortable doing so, invite students to discuss what they are experiencing, air concerns, and ask questions. Adding a forum such as the class water cooler or virtual cafe is one feature to allow individuals to discuss their concerns.

Canvas Forums

Make sure all students have access to the materials, books, and technology they need to continue the class.  Think inclusively: be clear with students about what they need for your class, from books to webcams.  As much as possible, choose technologies that can work on a phone, in case students don’t have access to a reliable computer or have spotty wi-fi. 

Consider the technology used in your course. If you use high-tech options to facilitate in-person discussion (e.g., web conferencing), consider allowing students who do not have access to tech, apps, or big data plans the option of engaging with course material using lower-tech solutions such as posting a written response to a forum or emailing a reflection paper.


Canvas Conference

Re-establish classroom community.  Allow space and time for students to connect/reconnect individually and as a class.  For example, students might record or write a short reflection (perhaps posted on a discussion forum) on where and how they are working on course-related assignments during the campus closure, with attention to their work space, their strategies for staying connected, and how they are re-establishing routine. Or pair students up and ask them to check in with each other by email, text, or phone.  You might also address COVID-19 from the perspective of your discipline (see assignment ideas here).  These could be opportunities for exchanging ideas as well as for much-needed mindfulness amid somewhat unpredictable circumstances.

Expect setbacks and frame student expectations around the notion of adaptability.  Technology will fail, time zones will be confused, assignments will be lost, and activities will go over like a lead balloon.  Be prepared to help students problem-solve, extend deadlines, or simply wait for students to resolve issues and disruptions. It’s ok to share that you don’t know how to solve every problem, but do show that you will do your best to accommodate the chaos and to connect students to the help and resources they need.  

Canvas Live Chat or 502.632.3957

Consider regularly gathering feedback on how the class is going.  It will likely be challenging to gauge how the class is going and how students are responding to the online environment.  Engage students in self-reflection and get a sense of their learning trajectories by offering opportunities for feedback in a variety of forms, including 5-minute free-writing posts to Moodle or a poll/survey.

Canvas Quiz

Re-evaluate participation and other grading criteria.  Think about how students can show they are paying attention, attending class sessions prepared, and meeting learning goals in ways that the original syllabus did not necessarily capture.

Canvas Analytics

Take it slowly.  Resist feelings of urgency.  Avoid planning the rest of the semester all at once.  We don’t know what’s next, or what will work best. Before committing to a totally new course plan or technology, take the time to engage students in the work of course revision, make a few changes at a time, and evaluate their impact.  Slow down, and stay flexible, patient, and thoughtful.

Still need help? Feel free to schedule a consultation with a librarian

With permission from Gonzalez Rice, K., McCullough,L., and Graesch, A. (2019). Eleven-teaching focused things to consider when moving your course online.