1. Where Does Online Teaching Happen?
  2. What Help and Support Is Available for Online Teaching?
  3. How Do I Distribute My Course Materials and Information?
    1. Considerations when posting new course materials
  4. What Should I Communicate to Students?
    1. Creating an Online Communication Plan
    2. Managing the Communication Load
    3. Using cuLearn Communication Tools
  5. How Can I Deliver Lectures Online?
    1. Tools for lectures in cuLearn
    2. Suggestions to improve online lectures
  6. How Can I Collect Assignments and Student Work?
    1. Tips for collecting student assignments online
  7. What Are Some Options for Online Assessment?
    1. General tips for assessing student learning online
  8. What Are Some Tools and Tips for Large Online Classes?
  9. Carleton Announcement: COVID-19

This webpage was created to help Carleton instructors with moving their course(s) online and with finding additional support and resources during an online transition.

An instructor may want to transition a course online temporarily during a campus disruption, such as a weather event, or during a change to instructor availability, such as in a family emergency. A sudden change to the course mode of delivery can be challenging for everyone involved, but some basic considerations can help.

Where Does Online Teaching Happen?

cuLearn is an Carleton’s online learning environment. Every course, instructor and student has access via their Carleton login credentials (i.e. the same login you use for Outlook email). All courses already have an available cuLearn space to use and already have the registered students and assigned teacher enrolled.

Accessing the course is as simple as logging in. (NOTE Teaching Assistants will need to be manually added to the course by the instructor to have access in cuLearn.)  Everyone accesses cuLearn via a basic web browser on their laptops, desktops, and mobile devices (i.e. tablets and cellphones).

  • For a video introduction to cuLearn, including how to access, navigate and perform basic tasks visit: https://youtu.be/6mxLyIwvibw
  • For a quick guide on what an online course might include, review the course setup checklist on the cuLearn support website

What Help and Support Is Available for Online Teaching?

Support for cuLearn is available in a variety of ways:

  • visit the cuLearn Support Website for instruction sets with screen shots of most course tasks
  • email the Ed Tech Inbox to contact members of the Ed Tech Team with questions
  • call to speak with a member of the Ed Tech team at the Educational Develop Centre (ext. 4433)

How Do I Distribute My Course Materials and Information?

cuLearn allows you to upload files in multiple ways into the course site.  A variety of file types can be uploaded (such as Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint slides), but to be mobile friendly, PDF formats are often more readable on cellphones. Cellphones are the most common type of mobile device for students. Try to keep file sizes small, and avoid uploading images as these can slow down the course load times.

Post an updated information file or content page about what your online course plans are, such as altered due dates, changes to assignment submissions, and collaborative activities. Students will need to know the scope of the change and how course delivery is being restructured.

Considerations when posting new course materials

  • Make sure students know when new material is posted: Inform students of new information and the uploaded files you’d like them to review.
  • Keep things phone friendly: In a crisis, many students may only have a phone available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats, such as PDFs. Consider saving other files (for example, PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets. PDFS help keep file sizes small for quicker loading. Remember that videos take lots of bandwidth and can take a long time to load on slow internet.  Keep videos short and opt for several shorter videos (5-7 minutes) rather than long segments.
  • Use accessible formatting for more inclusive documents
  • Place online readings on reserve by submitting an ARES reservation request to the library. Access to online readings will be created within your course and will be accessible in cuLearn for students.

What Should I Communicate to Students?

Communicate early, regularly and openly with your students. Your communication is a big part of your online classroom presence and teaching continuity. Keep the tone positive, helpful, and encouraging. Create a clear and consistent Communication Plan for your online course to set the structure and expectations in the new environment.

Review the policies in your syllabus and communicate any changes to students. For example, mandatory attendance policies and sick note requirements may need to change to be flexible to student needs. Assignment submission may change and may no longer be submitted on paper or in person. Be clear about which policies will stay the same, and communicate any changes for the new online environment.

Regular communication is critical in online learning.  Communication creates your presence in the course and helps create a positive learning environment.  Establish what communication will look like online in your course. Students will need to know what the new structure will be for learning activities and what your expectations are for how students will behave online.

Creating an Online Communication Plan

Create a communication plan for yourself and your students and share it with the class. In the plan, identify the methods you will use to communicate about all course activities and learning materials. Indicate your expectations for the students (remember to be flexible and adaptable to your student’s diverse needs). Your communication plan should establish how you will communicate and how often you will be available to respond to questions.

Be clear about when you will be online and set clear, realistic communication response times (i.e. “I will reply to emails within 24 to 48 hour”, for example). Outline what communication online will look like and then stick to the plan as much as possible.  Setting expectations for when and how often you will communicate helps students know what to expect and where/when to look for information.

Knowing that you are available and present online will help your students follow along in the course and be more engaged with their learning. Your attitude about the course will create their online course experience.

Managing the Communication Load

When you get individual questions that could be relevant to the entire class, re-post the question and answer to a Frequently Asked Questions forum (discussion board) that students can reply to and refer to later.  Students can support each other by providing information and helping to clarify issues before emailing you. Encourage your students to check the FAQ regularly for updates. This will help you manage your email load.

Using cuLearn Communication Tools

cuLearn has several tools to assist you with communicating in the online environment:

cuLearn Activity Description Sample Uses Instructions for Setup
Announcements Post a message that gets emailed to the entire class

Messages are archived on the course page behind the Announcements link

Broadcast a message to all students that classes will now take place online only; provide information about what online learning will look like Posting Announcements

Mail Send emails to individuals or small groups in the course answer questions for specific students to address their concerns

remind students of an upcoming assignment or deadline

Sending Mail
BigBlueButton Web conferencing tool for virtual meetings (<100 people) online office hours

short lecture/teaching sessions

group collaboration and activities

(Web Conferencing)
Forum Virtual discussion board for online conversations Frequently Asked Questions and answers

Group online discussion of concepts

Resource sharing (such as relevant websites or readings) and discussion

Forums (Discussion)
Kaltura Capture Lecture/screen recording tool Introduce your students to the online course space

Record your PowerPoint and lectures in short video segments (think about chunking into easy to digest concepts)

Post video messages to your students to connect with them

Kaltura Capture

What Are Some Tools and Tips for Large Online Classes?

Teaching large online classes poses particular challenges for instructors. Effective communication becomes even more important as a means of keeping students organized and also minimizing instructor workload and email. All online activities can be slower with increased user traffic. To help alleviate network slowdowns and time outs, consider breaking up activities into smaller sections or staggering completion of assessments.

TA management is another consideration and TAs become invaluable for communicating with smaller groups of students.

Consider hosting a brief weekly meeting with your TAs to discuss the course progress and strategies for teaching.  Weekly meetings could be hosted online via BigBlueButton.

Some tools you may want to use to facilitate TA management, course communication and student learning:

cuLearn Activity Description Sample Uses Instructions for Setup
BigBlueButton Web conferencing tool for virtual meetings (<100 people) Tutorials for small group sections run by TAs

Instructor hosted group meeting for TA management

Instructor-led or TA-led concept review in small groups

Teaching short concepts with a shared white board

Host online office hours

(Web Conferencing)
Kaltura Capture Lecture/screen recording tool Record short videos of key concepts (5-7 minutes)

TAs can create short videos to reinforce teaching materials and topics

Kaltura Capture
Forum (Discussion) Virtual discussion board for online conversations and blogging Create discussion boards for subsets of the class (i.e. Week 1 Discussion– Last names A-G))to engage in smaller groups

Create a FAQ page to address common questions and to clarify instructions to help minimize email overload

Forums (Discussion)
Feedback An asyncrhonous survey tool for getting input from your students Create an anonymous survey to check student understanding of concepts

Get feedback from students about what options they would find most useful for possible assessments

Ask students about what they need to be engaged and succeed in the online course

Chat A synchronous communication tool for live chats between students, TAs, or small groups Create informal spaces for students to chat with each other about class related concepts

Book online time for TAs or the instructor to chat directly with students for clarifications prior to a major assessment


Carleton Announcement: COVID-19

Since early January, Carleton has been tracking the COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) situation daily, offering guidance and regular updates. Read up-to-date information for the Carleton community at https://newsroom.carleton.ca/coronavirus-covid-19/

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