Published: March 13, 2020 By

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STEP 1: Communicate expectations for course communication. 

During times of uncertainty, clear and timely communication is essential. Reach out to students as soon as possible with information about how your course will proceed in a remote format.

Quality Matters recommends addressing the following, at a minimum:

  • In what modes and how often you will send general course communications 

  • How students should contact you 

  • Your expected response times for messages and returning graded assignments

  • How often students should log in to the course site

  • Which course activities are synchronous and which are asynchronous

  • Any changes to the attendance or class participation policy

  • How office hours will be conducted

  • Guidelines for communicating with peers online (e.g., “netiquette”)

Be available to answer any questions that might arise. Consider posting your responses to individual inquiries in an FAQ page or discussion forum within your course site so all students have access to the same information. This step should also help to reduce the volume of incoming messages you receive.

Step 2: Map out your course. 

Completing a simple table will help you organize your ideas and create a “to do” list for setting up your course activities in Canvas.

List the face-to-face classroom experiences you had planned for the remainder of the semester in columns 1 and 2 of the table. 



3/16 - Monday

Lecture on...

Discussion of...

3/18 - Wed

Lecture on...


3/20 - Friday

Lecture on…

Paper due



Step 3: Rethink for remote teaching.

In the third column, note how you will replace or recreate those experiences for remote delivery. 



Online Equivalent

3/16 - Monday

Lecture on...

Discussion of...

Zoom meeting

Canvas discussion forum

3/18 - Wed

Lecture on...


Screencast of lecture, posted in Canvas

Quiz in Canvas

3/20 - Friday

Lecture on…

Paper due

Assigned reading and video

Assignment submission via Canvas

Based on the time available and your comfort with technology, you might consider changing the format of course activities for remote delivery. For example, in place of a lecture, you could:

  • hold a live videoconference with students in Zoom to present the material

  • record a screencast of yourself delivering a lecture and post it in Canvas for viewing

  • assign a reading or video in place of the lecture

  • share your lecture slides, adding written “speaker notes” or audio narration as needed to help explain the material.

As you complete this column, remember that your immediate task is to create the minimum viable option that will allow students to receive the information they would have received in the classroom and provide them with alternative means of completing and submitting coursework. Wait to substantially redesign the course or implement new, non-essential technologies until normal teaching has resumed.

STEP 4: Populate your Canvas site.

Create or upload the materials, quizzes, assignments, and activities outlined in your course map. For help, review OIT’s Academic Technology Resources for Teaching Online or contact us at

STEP 5: Build in learner supports. 

Without face-to-face contact, additional scaffolding of learning may be necessary. Ensure your course materials are accessible for students with disabilities, instructions for activities and assignments are explicit, and deadlines are reasonable and clearly communicated.

If you are using any Canvas features or other technology tools in your course for the first time, remember that these tools might be new to at least some students. Consider providing links to resources for students that provide step-by-step instructions, such as these Canvas guides:

STEP 6: Create a work schedule for students.

Using the table you created as a starting point, prepare a new course schedule for students. Share this information with the class in Canvas, as an announcement, and/or as an email to the class.



3/16 - Monday

Attend live Zoom session, 1:00 to 2:00 pm (Mountain Time)

Post to the online discussion forum no later than noon on Wed., March 8

3/18 - Wed

Watch the lecture video posted in Canvas

Complete quiz online no later than 11:59 pm

3/20 - Friday

Review the assigned readings and videos posted in Canvas

Submit written assignment via Canvas no later than 11:59 pm

STEP 7: Maintain community.

Consider ways to encourage student-instructor and student-student interaction to maintain a sense of community while teaching and learning off-campus.

Strategies for student-instructor interaction

  • Post regular announcements in Canvas to keep the class on track

  • Email students who appear to be struggling with assignments to see if they need help

  • Record video or audio messages to maintain “instructor presence” within the course

  • Actively participate in online discussion forums

  • Create an open forum where students can post questions about the course, share ideas, or raise concerns

  • Provide timely, specific feedback on assignments

  • Hold virtual office hours

Strategies for student-student interaction

  • Create collaborative assignments, activities, or quizzes, or allow students to work on existing assignments with peers

  • Encourage students to share tips and strategies for online learning

  • Help students form study groups or peer accountability groups

  • Use online discussion forums and require peer responses

  • Guide students in creating study guides, course glossaries, or other class resources

STEP 8: Be prepared to provide referrals. 

Students may need additional assistance from the OIT Help Desk, Disability Services, campus health services (including mental health resources), the University Libraries, and/or other academic and support services. Provide contact information for these campus partners in a prominent place within your course site.

Video Resources

Recorded workshops on the tips above are available on OIT's Academic Technology Training page (scroll down to On-Demand Video Trainings) or using the links below. Each video is 30-45 minutes in length.


This guide was developed by Joy Adams, ASSETT Teaching & Learning Consultant, CU Boulder. Some information has been adapted from the Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist and other resources shared by members of the Quality Matters Instructional Designers Association.