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Online Teaching: Quick Start and Moving Forward


This resource will be regularly and continually updated. Please check back for new information.

As you continue to move forward teaching classes online instead of on campus, the resources below can make your temporary pivot to the online classroom a successful experience for you and your students. For more information on the technical aspects featured on this webpage, check out OIT’s webpage on working and teaching remotely.

Chancellor Plowman and Provost Zomchick have set out three guiding principles for our temporary venture into fully-online teaching and learning:

Be compassionate. Be creative. Be flexible.

Nobody expects you to be perfect at teaching online. Right now, what we need from you most of all is your continued care and compassion for our students, and your flexibility as we all adapt to this temporary period of online teaching and learning. Help your students understand that we care about them and that we are here for them.

  • If you plan to use Zoom, download the Zoom software to your computer. Then check out the resources posted below in the “Quick start to Zoom” section.
  • Find a trusted colleague with whom you can practice recording live Zoom sessions. Also, be sure that you are comfortable uploading Zoom recordings to your Canvas course site or a cloud-based repository so that you can share them with students.
  • Download your class rosters from Canvas so that you have a copy on your computer. This will be handy if you are temporarily unable to connect to Canvas.
  • The best laid plans all have a backup. To ensure that you have a backup, create a list of student emails in your course, create an email distribution list, and download your Gradebook so you have access to it outside of Canvas. Learn details about the process on the OIT website.
  • If you haven’t already, send your class a short email message. Explain that you know that this transition to online teaching and learning could generate a lot of anxiety and stress. If you’re anxious about the transition, let them know that, but reassure them that you will do your best to help them succeed. Be honest, open, transparent, and compassionate.
  • If you plan to use Zoom, remind your class to download the Zoom software over the weekend. Email or post the Zoom Participant Guide and Guide to Joining a Meeting for students to access. Share Participation rules for live Zoom sessions.
  • Review what you planned to accomplish in your class next week. It might be appropriate to slow down the pace of instruction for the next couple of days while students get used to fully-online teaching and learning. Consider postponing or modifying any high-stakes assessments that you had planned for next week.

For a concise overview of Canvas, watch this 5:47-minute Canvas Instructor Overview.

OIT has launched their Training and Support and Teaching Remotely sites to help guide faculty through the process of moving content online,

Be sure to read the Working Remotely page for important information about off-campus access to technologies and communication tools.

Instructors who experience technical difficulties during class should call the OIT HelpDesk at 865-974-9110. Calling this number will assign your call a higher priority than calls to the regular HelpDesk number 865-974-9900. Use the regular number to schedule 1-on-1 consultations with OIT.

Canvas is Your Virtual Classroom

All courses in Banner have an accompanying Canvas site that is populated with enrolled students. The Canvas site can serve as your virtual classroom. To access your Canvas site or sites, login to Online@UT (Canvas) with your NetID and Password.

OIT’s Teaching Remotely site provides details about utilizing Canvas tools to communicate with students, deliver course content, and assess student learning.

Canvas Studio

Canvas Studio is a communication tool that allows instructors and students to actively collaborate through video and audio media.

LiveOnline@UT – Zoom

For engaging with students, Zoom provides a robust platform for online classes and meetings, pairing full audio and video conferencing capabilities with content sharing, desktop recording, and lecture capture. OIT’s has detailed information for instructors who want to create online lectures in Zoom. Be sure to read the newly updated Best Practices document from OIT.

Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor

Options for increasing online exam security are available to faculty and students through the use of Respondus LockDown Browser (LDB) and Respondus Monitor (OIT has extended our Respondus Monitor license through July to allow for unlimited usage). These tools provide a quick and effective way to increase student accountability and deter potential cheating. For details about implementing Respondus, including important information for students, visit OIT’s Using Respondus page.

The Libraries will serve instructors and students through:

  • AskUsNow Chat Service (M-F 8 am – Midnight Monday-Friday and Sat-Sun 10 am – Midnight):
    • Connects library users to online access to information, scholarly articles, e-books, data, digital collections, and multimedia https://www.lib.utk.edu
    • Assists students in locating articles and data for their papers and in incorporating resources into papers and citing sources
    • Provides Research Guides in each major to help students and researchers get started finding information and resources pertaining to their topic
  • Scan on Demand: For teaching and research purposes, our Scan On Demand service will provide scanned copies of journal articles and book chapters from our print and microform collections via email. We will also scan newspaper articles, tables of content, title pages, indexes, and government documents. This service is available to all UTK faculty, staff, and students. Use OneSearch to locate the book, article, etc.. After you sign in, click on the PDF Scan link next to the volume/issue you need, and provide the complete citation. Be sure to select the correct volume that matches your citation. If you need help, contact our online AskUsNow research assistance service, we will be happy to verify the citation. See these instructions for requesting PDF scans.
  • Course Reserves: The Libraries are in the process of purchasing e-books to replace print course reserves for instructors. In cases in which we cannot find e-books, we will contact instructors to see what they may need scanned and made available to them to place in Canvas.
  • Streaming VideoWe provide access to 120,000 streaming media titles including: newsreels, documentaries, interviews, performances, feature films, and raw footage. These are captioned and accessible and may be embedded in Canvas.
  • Open Educational Resources including open textbooks
  • Research tools such as EndNotePowerNotes, and more
  • Subject librarians to provide one-on-one online consultations researching topics, finding data, and more
  • Online Library Instruction: Librarians to conduct online class sessions in the use of library resources and technologies in all disciplines
  • Online Library Tutorials on findings articles, data, and other resources in a variety of disciplines

Asynchronous Instruction occurs when the faculty member and the students are in different places and participating at different times. In an asynchronous course, students generally complete coursework at their own schedule within the parameters of the instructor’s syllabus. Students may still have to meet weekly deadlines for submitting assignments, participating in discussion forums, and completing quizzes and assessments via the Canvas course site.

Synchronous instruction occurs when the faculty member and the students are in different places, but participating at the same time. Synchronous course sessions are conducted through Zoom or other real-time video or chat tools. In online courses that are primarily synchronous, students must participate during specified days and times each week throughout the term.


From the Association of College and University Educators, this well designed resource provides six key topic areas for teaching remotely.

Best Practices for Online Exams: This downloadable document outlines ten tips to create and deliver online exams to your students.

It is a violation of copyright law for a student to upload instructional materials to a third-party aggregator website, such as CourseHero or StudyBlue, without the instructor’s permission. Consult this document to learn more about the university’s policies around copyright and steps you can take to deter students from violating the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources.

Communicate with Students

  • Learn and use students’ names when communicating (emails, discussion posts, etc.).
  • Record and post a video introducing yourself, welcoming students to class and providing a brief overview of the upcoming semester.
  • Have students introduce themselves via the Canvas discussion board.
  • Provide opportunities for students to interact with you and one another in real-time using Zoom. Even if your course is mainly asynchronous, you can hold virtual office hours or have collaboration in an online synchronous setting.
  • Write discussion prompts that take into consideration learners’ backgrounds, perspectives and values.

Outline Expectations

  • Include a civility statement in the syllabus that addresses specific expectations for student behavior, interaction, and communication (on the discussion board, in email messages, in the virtual classroom, within the context of group work, etc.).
  • At the start of a semester, establish community norms by having students identify and discuss their own expectations for respectful engagement and civil discourse in the online environment. Create course policies around these expectations. Hold students accountable – and have students hold one another accountable – when these policies are not followed.

Utilize Technology

  • Deliver a pre-assessment that addresses students’ experience using technology and multimedia tools for instructional purposes. Share supplemental resources with students who may exhibit knowledge gaps or have less hands-on experience.
  • Utilize tools in Canvas to implement self-assessments, such as focused reflection, journaling, and student-invented dialogs.
  • Create materials and assessments with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in mind. For more information about accessibility and UDL, please visit the Accessible Information, Materials & Technology website and the Office of Information Technology’s UDL webpage.
  • Identify and utilize open educational resources(OERs) during the semester. The Canvas Commons is a great place to get started!

  • Download this resource for quick strategies on dealing with difficult situations in your online course and guidance on establishing an inclusive and positive online learning environment.
  • How to Deal with Bias Incidents in the Classroom: The following strategies on this webpage provide you with guidelines on how to prepare and respond to incidents involving bias efficiently and appropriately.

These simple strategies can help you design and manage engaging asynchronous discussions that promote student learning in your online course.

Unsure how to best turn your in-person course into an online course? This document presents some commonly used in-class instructional methods, and then options for moving them online using university supported tools.

  • Keep up with departmental and university announcements and emails. Consult your chair or dean about any specific departmental, school, or college requirements as we move forward.
  • Be present and engage in regular and substantive interaction with your students, whether synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Create a communication plan for how to share changes with students and address their questions. Use email, post Announcements in your Canvas site, use Zoom or the Canvas chat tool for online office hours.
  • Rethink your expectations for students, including those around communication, participation and deadlines.
  • Utilize the tools and approaches most familiar to you and your students.
  • Replace physical resources with digital resources when possible. Consider using Open Educational Resources (OERs) when necessary and appropriate. Learn more at the Open Education Portal from the University Libraries.
  • Review your course syllabus, schedule and student learning outcomes. Be prepared to modify components of your courses while continuing to provide substantially the same learning outcomes during this period.
  • Look at the course calendar and identify the assignments and activities that are planned for each of the remaining weeks. Think about creating course content one week at a time.
  • Identify the best approach for creating and delivering course lectures.
  • Remember that all synchronous components of an online class must be delivered during the regular meeting times for the class, as listed in the timetable. When communicating with students, remind them that synchronous class meetings will take place in EST.
  • Develop assignments and assessments for student evaluation.
  • Consider student accessibility when creating course materials. Consult OIT’s Quick Tips for Accessibility to learn more.
  • Confirm you have access to the technologies and software you will need to use if you plan to work from home. OIT’s Working Remotely page provides guidance.
  • Bookmark these regularly updated resources: OIT’s Teaching Remotely Training and Support and Online Programs’ Quick Start to Online Teaching
  • Schedule a consultation with a faculty consultant in TLI or an instructional designer in OIT.

Class Meeting Times

You are not required to deliver your course synchronously. However, if you chose to do so, synchronous components of the online class must be delivered during the regular meeting times for the class, as listed in the timetable. When communicating with students, remind them that meetings will take place in EST.

Important Information about FERPA

During this period of transition to online courses, when many of us are working remotely, FERPA compliance is still in effect. This is important when communicating to students or third parties via phone, email, or other online services, including recorded class sessions. You should always use email with the amount of caution appropriate to:

  1. the level of sensitivity of the information being disclosed,
  2. the likelihood of inadvertent disclosure to someone other than the intended recipient, and
  3. the consequences of inadvertent disclosure to someone other than the intended recipient.

As a general rule, communications should contain the least amount of FERPA-protected information as possible. For example, the subject line of an email should not include FERPA-protected information. The email, voicemail message, or online session should not contain highly sensitive FERPA-protected details, such as a student’s social security number. In addition, files containing FERPA information should only be stored in UTK-approved FERPA solutions, such as UTK OneDrive and UTK Google Drive. For more information related to FERPA and privacy of student information, please go to ferpa.utk.edu.

Contact Hours

Contact hour requirements must be met in online courses. Per the University’s Registrar, a minimum of 700 minutes is required per credit hour. A 3-credit hour course requires 2,100 contact minutes (150 mins a week x 14 weeks).

For an online class, this means that students should be engaged with course content and participating in activities that lead to the achievement of the learning outcomes for a minimum 2.5 hours per week (for a 3-credit hour class). This may include watching instructional videos, participating in an online discussion, meeting synchronously in Zoom to collaborate on a project or paper, or some other activity determined by the instructor.

Attendance

Class attendance and eligibility polices, including those pertaining to Federal Financial Aid programs, apply to students enrolled in online courses. Attendance in an online course is verified by having the student engage in or complete an academically related activity. Below is nonexclusive list of activities that may be considered academic attendance in an online class, including:

  • Submitting an assignment
  • Taking an online exam or quiz
  • Participating in an online course discussion or group activity about academic issues
  • Physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students (this would include required virtual class meetings in Zoom)

A student logging into the course site does not suffice for meeting attendance requirements and should never be used as a means for verifying attendance in an online or hybrid course. Instead, students should complete and submit an assignment, engage in an online discussion or virtual class meeting (on a course discussion board, in a Zoom session), or take a quiz or other form of assessment.

Students Need to Hear From You

Now is the time to reach out to your students. This may be a very stressful time for them and hearing from you – even in a quick email – can be helpful in assuaging anxiety and concern. As you develop your plan for instruction, continue to stay in communication with your students.

Ask students to keep communication channels open. In addition to receiving alerts from the university, inform your students to make sure that they do NOT turn off Notifications in Canvas for announcements and conversations (email), which you will use to communicate about your plan for the course.

  • Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Add announcements for due dates for assignments and projects, changes to your syllabus, corrections/clarifications of materials, and exam schedules.
  • Conversations allows you to send email to students in your course without launching a separate email program, such as Outlook or Gmail. You can send email to individual students or to groups of students.
  • Chat with students who are online at the same time as you.
  • Schedule online office hours and notify students of your preferred mode of communication (UTK email, Canvas chat, Zoom conference, phone call).

‘Do No Harm’
In this 2 minute video from the Chronicle of Higher Education, faculty members from around the country offer their responses to the question: What’s the best piece of advice or perspective you’ve gotten?

A Pedagogy of Kindness
Embracing kindness as a pedagogical practice, from the Open Access Journal, Hybrid Pedagogy.

Moving Online Now
From the Chronicle of Higher Ed, a collection of articles about moving into the online teaching environment quickly and effectively.

Practical Advise for Temporarily Teaching Online
From Inside Higher Ed, this article provides an instructional planning guide that individual faculty can use.

Online Instructor Toolkit
UTK’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) has developed the Online Instructor Toolkit to assist instructors in preparing and teaching their online courses. Topics covered include course design, teaching tools and campus resources.

How to Be a Better Online Teacher
This advice guide from the Chronicle of Higher Education includes 10 essential practices and principles for success in the online classroom.

Pedagogical Practices to Improve Your Online Course
From Faculty Focus, Five Pedagogical Practices to Improve Your Online Course, provides practical tips for delivering a successful online class.

From Passive Viewing to Active Learning: Simple Techniques for Applying Active Learning Strategies to Online Course Videos (Moore, 2013)
Discover active learning methods that can help increase the educational effectiveness of an online course video. Faculty can implement these methods using Canvas Studio.

Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engaging Students (Norman, 2017)
From Faculty Focus, learn “concrete steps you can take to run class sessions that are energetic, interactive, and productive.”

10 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Engagement Online (Briggs, 2015)
From Academic Technology at the College of William and Mary, this blog post details strategies that can help students overcome social, adminstrative and motivation barriers in online courses.

Tips for Promoting Civility & Inclusion in Online Courses
This webpage provides tips to promote civility and inclusion in online coursework, including best practices for communicating with students, outlining your expectations, and utilizing technology.

Fostering an Inclusive Environment when Developing Online Courses
From ASU TeachOnline. Does your online course respect and encourage diversity? This article presents “facts and questions to consider in order to maximize your course inclusivity.”

Guidelines for Discussing Difficult or Controversial Topics
Whether you are teaching online synchronously or asynchronously, these guidelines from UM’s CRTL can assist you when designing and facilitating class discussions on controversial topics.

Access and Accessibility in Online Learning
This white paper from the Online Learning Consortium provides an overview of critical terms, legal precedents, and other considerations to improve the educational experiences of learners with disabilities.
https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/read/access-and-accessibility-in-online-learning/

openstax
This nonprofit based at Rice University, openstax™ features open textbooks, resources, and technologies.

Open Textbook Library
Supported by the Open Textbook Network and based at the University of Minnesota, the open textbook library provides a collection of free, peer-reviewed, and openly-licensed textbooks.

University Libraries

Access the various online teaching and learning resources available to support instructors and faculty.

Please remember that not every student owns a smart phone or has high speed internet access at home. These technical realities do not prevent you from delivering instruction online, but should be kept in mind when scheduling online meetings and sharing expectations with students. A little flexibility and patience can go a long way in making a successful transition to the online environment.

UTK is a member of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). The OLC offers a variety of webinars hosted by “online experts covering industry hot topics, best practices and special interests.” Recently they’ve been offering webinars focused on a temporary transition to teaching online. Be sure to select the tab, On Demand Webinars, to access previously recorded sessions.

This free virtual conference is hosted by Arizona State University and takes place July 13-14, 2020.

Important Resources

We will continue to update this area.

  • See what services are currently available for off-campus students.
  • UTK’s Student Disability Services is committed to assisting students and faculty in ensuring the continued provision of disability-related accommodations as courses are transitioning to an online format. Visit their FAQ page for more information.
  • UTK’s Student Success Center has launched the Online Academic Success Guide to help our student scholars navigate the new online delivery of their courses.
  • The Student Success Center has also developed resources for Online Academic Assistance.
  • The University Libraries provides Information for Students, including an E-Resources Guide.
  • OIT’s Just for Students page provides important details about technology, access and online training.
  • From the Dean of Students Office, the 974-HELP referral line was developed to help distressed or distressing students reach their academic goals .
  • Texas Instruments is providing free software to allow students to simulate graphing calculators on their laptops and tablets.
  • Participation rules for live Zoom sessions.

The Libraries will serve instructors and students through:

  • AskUsNow Chat Service (M-F 8 am – Midnight Monday-Friday and Sat-Sun 10 am – Midnight):
    • Connects library users to online access to information, scholarly articles, e-books, data, digital collections, and multimedia https://www.lib.utk.edu
    • Assists students in locating articles and data for their papers and in incorporating resources into papers and citing sources
    • Provides Research Guides in each major to help students and researchers get started finding information and resources pertaining to their topic
  • Scan on Demand: For teaching and research purposes, our Scan On Demand service will provide scanned copies of journal articles and book chapters from our print and microform collections via email. We will also scan newspaper articles, tables of content, title pages, indexes, and government documents. This service is available to all UTK faculty, staff, and students. Use OneSearch to locate the book, article, etc.. After you sign in, click on the PDF Scan link next to the volume/issue you need, and provide the complete citation. Be sure to select the correct volume that matches your citation. If you need help, contact our online AskUsNow research assistance service, we will be happy to verify the citation. See these instructions for requesting PDF scans.
  • Course Reserves: The Libraries are in the process of purchasing e-books to replace print course reserves for instructors. In cases in which we cannot find e-books, we will contact instructors to see what they may need scanned and made available to them to place in Canvas.
  • Streaming VideoWe provide access to 120,000 streaming media titles including: newsreels, documentaries, interviews, performances, feature films, and raw footage. These are captioned and accessible and may be embedded in Canvas.
  • Open Educational Resources including open textbooks
  • Research tools such as EndNotePowerNotes, and more
  • Subject librarians to provide one-on-one online consultations researching topics, finding data, and more
  • Online Library Instruction: Librarians to conduct online class sessions in the use of library resources and technologies in all disciplines
  • Online Library Tutorials on findings articles, data, and other resources in a variety of disciplines