Starting the Semester Online

    Starting the Semester Online

Switching your teaching modality at a moments notice

We know that things can happen that may require us to switch or teaching modality from in-person (face-to-face) to another method.  If this happens, below are some tips to help you get going with your new modality.



down arrow  Please visit each of the following steps for additional information. 

Selecting the delivery model that best suits your teaching




for the instructor, Less work up front, more work during the semester.

It’s more like a traditional class in that you see all your students and can have real-time conversations. Can use Zoom breakout rooms to do group work and group discussions as you would in a traditional classroom.

Students without access to reliable (or no) home internet may not be able to participate fully or at all. Students must attend class at a specific time.  Since we start later, they may decide to keep summer jobs which could conflict.

for the instructor, more work up front, less work during the semester.

Students can participate in class on their own schedule (any place, any time). Students with unreliable internet access at home are less affected when watching videos or reading online than when participating in a live video session.

Students often feel like they are “teaching themselves” or are alone in their learning, so faculty need to plan ways to prevent this through communication and collaboration.

Adding engagement to your online teaching




  • Do small group work using the breakout rooms in Zoom.
  • Create discussions using the OAKS discussion board.
  • Add easter eggs (messages or items hidden in content/syllabi/etc for the students to find) to your online OAKS content.
  • Make sure to put your personality into your course via video lectures or short videos introducing each week.
Creating Lectures



  • Include pauses for questions within your lecture. Students may be uncomfortable interrupting.
  • Be sure your presentations have a large font so they can be easily read.
  • Chunk your content into manageable sections that are 15 min. or less.

  • Include questions within the video that the student needs to answer to encourage reflection and to show they watched the lecture.

  • Use guided notes to keep the students on track when watching the lectures.

  • Make sure they are accessible.

Communicate Early and Often

Students want to be in contact with their faculty members so it’s incredibly important that you stay in contact with them, especially in an asynchronous class.

  • Create weekly OAKS Announcements that are encouraging
  • Email students that aren’t participating fully or aren’t accessing your OAKS class to encourage them to participate
  • Office regular office hours via Zoom so students can talk to you about problems or concerns
Build Community from the Start
  • Do an online community building activity such as an online escape room to really get the students involved in one another. 
  • If doing introductions, make it about them as a person.  Learn about pets, where they’re from, what they want from their future.  Let them get to know you as a person, not just as a professor. 
  • Consider using FlipGrid for your introductions so students can meet you and one another.
Set Expectations

Be very clear in your syllabus about your expectations of your students during the first three weeks and beyond.  Remind them it’s a changing environment and they need to be flexible.  

  • How often should they log in per week?
  • How much time should they spend per week?
  • How many absences can they have?
  • If they are absent can they watch recorded sessions?  If so, where will they be?
  • Where can they get Tech Help?
  • What does success look like in your class and how can they achieve it?
  • Include your communication parameters and preference, ex. I prefer email communication and I will respond within 24 hour (but not on the weekend).
  • Create a syllabus quiz that they can take multiple times to ensure they have read and understand the syllabus.








Please don’t forget that you need a Plan B in case you or some of your students are quarantined.  Also don’t forget that the last week of the semester, and the final exam, will be fully online, so plan accordingly.