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.

  • 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 yours 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.
    • 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 sidebar)
    • 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

  • Let students know how often they can expect to hear from you (e.g., daily, weekly, etc.), and through what channels (e.g., email, Canvas Announcements).  
  • Tell students how they can communicate with you (e.g., email, Canvas Inbox).
  • Inform students of the expectations for attendance and participation under your modified teaching plan.
  • Tell students how the class will operate during the period of instructional modification.
    • State what parts of the class will occur synchronously and/or asynchronously.
    • If instruction is happening synchronously, be sure to include the time zone since students may be remote in different parts of the country/globe. 
  • Proactively determine a communication plan for unanticipated events, such as internet outages, and inform your students of the plan (e.g., Canvas).
  • Direct students to campus resources for addressing non-instructional needs (e.g., health and wellness, other campus websites).
  • Tell students to monitor official campus communication for updates: UC Davis News Page, UC COVID-19 Page, and Campus Operating Status.
  • Encourage students and Teaching Assistants to practice daily preventive care: Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Stay home if you are sick. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work and school.