Planning

Assess and Plan

To move parts of a course online, first consider your proficiency with the relevant instructional technologies, the structure of your course, the particular needs of your students, the requirements of your material or your discipline, the assignments and assessments typically used in the course, and the limits caused by timelines and scalability. Above all, because you are working with unexpected limits, we advise you to observe (and encourage your students to observe) reasonable expectations for success.

This diamond icon ♦ in the text indicates that there is content in the right sidebar that relates to that particular strategy.

  • Determine realistic goals for the circumstances
    • What can I realistically accomplish during this time period? 
    • What learning outcomes (still) need to be addressed?
    • What can I maintain in my original syllabus and class schedule? 
    • How can students keep up with the reading and assignments?
    • How can I add structure and accountability to keep students engaged in course content?
    • Which assignments must I keep, and which can I modify or cut, if any?
    • What exams will be given, and how?
  • Consider your students, class size and technology access
    • Who are your students? Use the Know Your Students tool to get a better sense of their background and tech access. ♦1
    • How many students are in the class? How might class size affect my choices?
    • What is my students’ access to the internet and necessary technologies?
  • Review your syllabus, and prioritize how the course and course content will be delivered
  • Review the course grading structure and policy
    • Will changes be needed to the grading structure?  
    • Do I need to consider alternative weighting for assessments and grades?
    • Can I make remaining assignments and coursework optional? 
    • Should there be an alternative timeline for exams (e.g., if I typically give 2 exams per quarter, should I consider giving 3 exams and dropping the lowest grade)?
    • What tools can I use to assist me with grading? (e.g., Gradescope, Canvas Quizzes)
  • Assess your technology use and comfort level
    • How have I already structured my Canvas course in ways that might support online teaching?
    • What is my comfort level with using Canvas? What support do I need to get more comfortable?
    • What access do I have to the internet and necessary technologies?
    • What new technologies do I need to learn?
    • What is my comfort level with using teaching technology?
  • Develop a Communication Plan (see below)
    • What communication modes are in place? 
    • Will these need to change to substitute for face-to-face time with students?
    • How will I work with my teaching assistants?

Once you have a clear sense of your needs and priorities, you’ll make some important decisions about teaching strategies, the structure of your Canvas page, and the sort of media you will use to communicate with students and share course content.

Communicate with Students

In the remote environment, communicating clearly about course expectations is important so that students 1) have the information they need to make informed decisions when they are selecting their courses, and 2) know how the class will proceed once it begins.

For an example of how a department has communicated course information to students before the start of the quarter, see the sidebar on the right. ♦2

Below are some categories that you may want to address either before your course starts or once the course begins (through the syllabus, your Canvas course page, announcements, etc.):

Course Logistics:

  • How will lectures and/or discussions be conducted? Are they synchronous, asynchronous, or both? (If instruction is happening synchronously, be sure to include the time zone since students may be remote in different parts of the country/globe). 
  • Is attendance in synchronous lectures or discussions required?
  • Will synchronous lecture/discussion material be recorded and made available to students?
  • How will office hours be conducted?

Exams:

  • How will exams be administered?
  • Will exams be held at a scheduled time (e.g., during lecture)? Will they be timed but held over a longer time frame? Will they be take-home?
  • How will you accommodate students in different time zones?

Course communications:

  • How often can students expect to hear from you (e.g., daily, weekly, etc.), and through what channels (e.g., email, Canvas Announcements)?  
  • How can students communicate with you (e.g., email, Canvas Inbox)?
  • How will students be informed about unanticipated events, such as internet outages?

Resources:

  • Direct students to campus resources for addressing non-instructional needs (e.g., health and wellness, other campus websites). Note that the Keep Teaching website includes a student resources page you can reference.
  • Consider including a statement about student wellness in your syllabus. ♦3
  • Tell students to monitor official campus communication for updates: UC Davis News Page, UC COVID-19 Page, and Campus Operating Status.