"Keep Teaching"

A Quick Start Guide for Remote Teaching

If campus were to close for unforeseen reasons, would you have a back-up plan for teaching your face-to-face classes? Whether it’s dangerously low temperatures or a special event that causes campus closures, some circumstances may prevent you and your students from meeting in person. This page serves as a quick start guide for moving your course online.

Before you get started, here are few things to think about as you prepare to move your course online:

  1. What is your communication plan?

  2. What are your realistic goals for continuing instruction?

  3. Identify your priorities during the disruption: providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc.

  4. How will you need to modify your syllabus?

  5. How will your expectations for your students change?

  6. How will you ensure Inclusive Excellence so that all of your students can succeed? 

Getting Started

First things first: make sure you are prepared to work remotely. Visit this ITS website for answers to frequently asked questions about working remotely.

There are two modes of instruction you can choose: teaching a live/synchronous (in real-time) class using live video conferencing or delivering your class asynchronously (not in real-time) using UNL’s Learning Management System, Canvas. You can also mix and match these providing some synchronous and some asynchronous elements in your course. You choose whatever works best for you and your students!

Finding and publishing your Canvas course

If you’ve never used Canvas before, you may not know how to find your Canvas course. In addition, you will need to publish your course and course material. Here are a couple of short videos to get you going:

Communication

An important difference when teaching online instead of face-to-face is that you can no longer rely on being in the same place at the same time to convey important information. It is essential that you stay in close communication with your students about changes to the course, and it is recommended that you use multiple modes of communication to ensure that all students are receiving all pieces of information. Using a combination of email, Canvas announcements, and Canvas Inbox will allow you to create a sense of continuity from the classroom to the virtual world.

Whether you rely on email, announcements, or inbox messaging to communicate with your students, make sure you let them know when and where they can expect to receive updates. This is also a good opportunity to review your Canvas notification settings (and encourage your students to review their notification settings) to ensure reliable channels of communication.

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Host a Live Session Using Zoom

You can schedule a virtual “live” class meeting or office hours using the Zoom video-conferencing application. You’ll need a computer with a microphone and webcam for this to work best (if you don’t have a webcam, you can still use this tool; your students will still be able to hear you, they just won’t be able to see you). Your students can join using a computer, tablet or even phone.

Deliver Class Material Asynchronously Using Canvas

You can use Canvas to send announcements to your students, share course materials with them, collect assignments/assessments, or even facilitate online discussions. The easiest way to get going with Canvas is through the Modules page on your course. Here you can create and organize all of your course material and activities.

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Facilitate a Class Discussion

Creating class discussions in Canvas allows students to respond to you and each other asynchronously (i.e., not in real-time). You can provide a prompt that asks students to discuss course material, reflect on how key concepts are linked to other fields of study or to their own experience, or share their works in progress, among other things.

Record a Lecture - Using Videos in your Course

For creating an online lecture or screencast, VidGrid allows you to record and share video and audio of your computer screen and webcam with your students. This makes creating a screencast and sharing it with students quick and easy.

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Have Students Submit an Assignment

You can avoid overloading your email inbox by requiring students to submit assignments using the Canvas Assignment tool. Students can submit multiple types of files (Word Docs, pdf, PowerPoint files, etc.) or just enter a plain text response:

Assessment

You can give exams or quizzes using the Canvas Quiz tool. The quiz tool in Canvas is used to assess student progress through quizzes, exams, or surveys. If you currently use the campus testing center to proctor your exams, you should consider whether you want to modify your exams or perhaps consider another type of assessment.

For a more in-depth look at assessment for remote teaching, check out our Assessment Guide and our Rethinking Assessment of Hands-On Learning guide.

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Canvas Gradebook

The Canvas Gradebook is a comprehensive resource that allows you to add, edit, and review grades. You can also provide feedback to your students in this environment, which helps alleviate student questions and helps them identify areas for improvement. Speedgrader is directly integrated which assists with time spent grading, consistency, and ease when grading assignments submitted online.

Creating Groups of Students in Canvas

There are many reasons why you might want to create groups in Canvas. Maybe you have a group project you want students to work on. Maybe you are teaching a high enrollment course and want to break your students into discussion groups. Whatever your motivation, Canvas has a robust group tool that can help.

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Where to Get Help

Canvas Live Support

If you need help using Canvas, Canvas Live support is available 24 hours a day. You can access Canvas live support by clicking the question mark button in the lower-left corner of your Canvas menu. There you will find information about calling Canvas support or chatting with them online.

The Center for Transformative Teaching Instructional Design Team

Instructional Designers from the Center for Transformative Teaching are available to help guide you through the process of moving your course online. Visit the Center for Transformative Teaching's directory for information on how to get in touch with an Instructional Designer.

Information Technology Services (ITS)

Information Technology Services (ITS) offers a broad range of services including Canvas, Zoom, Box, VidGrid, and more. To get help with these services, submit a request at https://its.unl.edu/canvas-support-request/

College-Specific Resources

In addition to the resources listed above, some colleges have their own resources to provide support for faculty:

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Additional Resources

If you're looking to step-up your online teaching, we recommend also reviewing these resources:

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