Teaching Continuity Essentials

Communicating with students

If courses are disrupted, it will be imperative to communicate with students to let them know how their courses will be impacted. Regular communication will mitigate their anxiety about course content, assignments and timelines.  Frequent, ongoing communication with students is essential to course continuity.

Using announcements (news), you can communicate course updates, share new information, and post reminders for students.

Notifications let students know as soon as content, news or grades are made available in your course. Each student needs to enable notifications for their D2L account.

If you need to communicate with your class, you can get the list of student emails from PeopleSoft. D2L also provides tools to let you send an email to the entire class, to specific sections or groups within the class or to individual students.

Office hours can be scheduled even when you are not in the office. You can either use the telephone or hold them online using Zoom.

Putting your class online

In the event of course disruption, you may not be able to deliver a traditional lecture on campus. There are several strategies to deliver content online. The resources in this section will help you to record your lecture, facilitate real-time, online discussion and upload documents to your course site.

Visit our Introduction to D2L site to learn more about the variety of tools provided D2L.

Learn how to post an announcement, syllabus and style instructions in under ten minutes with these three video tutorials.  

You can use YuJa (yuja.ucalgary.ca) to record videos using a webcam and screen recording. The YuJa video can then be added to your D2L course. 

Zoom provides a platform to have live, synchronous sessions with all your students. Take advantage of being able to share your presentation, visit websites, include students in conversations and small group activities. 

Course disruption can be especially challenging when there are labs, field experiences, seminars, and studios involved. This page outlines some resources and ideas to get you started with thinking through how you might approach the task.

This helpful infographic provides principles and practical strategies for remote teaching that enhance learning while reducing frustration for both instructors and students.

If you need ideas for planning future online courses, check out this useful online course design guide from Faculty Focus.

Communication among students

Discussions allow students to explore issues and learn about different perspectives. Online discussions can be valuable part of learning experience, building peer to peer collaboration while exploring course content. 

The discussion tool is a virtual conversation space where students and instructors collaborate using short question and answer style posts.  The discussion tool can serve as a focal point for conversation in an online course.

Both group work and projects can be facilitated online through a variety of tools. Using D2L, students can be divided into small groups where they can participate in discussions and other course activities such as problem solving or debates. D2L groups can also collaborate on documents and submit group assignments.

Participation in the discussion board forums is essential to successful learning in this online course. The discussion activities are designed to provide you with opportunities both to show that you are able to apply your learning in practical ways and to learn from other students in the course.

There are many different ways to use discussion boards to enhance collaborative learning in an online space. Formal opportunities for collaboration become more important to prevent isolation and increase meaningful learning.

Assessing student learning

A course disruption can interrupt your student assessment plans. Use the online learning environment to ensure a smooth process for submitting student assignments, implementing quizzes and providing feedback for continued student learning. 

Effective assessment helps students focus their learning on the most important aims of a course. This page outlines five principles with suggested strategies for meaningful online assessment.

There are many possibilities for alternate students assessment online such as presentations, student-created videos, and online discussions. 

Academic integrity is a commitment to, and the demonstration of, honest and responsible scholarship. Support student learning in an online environment while educating them about maintaining academic integrity though utilizing D2L tools. 

These resources suggest that instructors should think small in terms of large class assignments. Whether that is the one-sentence summary assignment or taking a larger assignment and breaking it into smaller parts, these assessment strategies will help students learn effectively and instructors manage time.

Cameron Welsh, senior instructor at Haskayne School of Business had team presentations scheduled at the end of March, when all teaching and learning was moving online. How would he make this work as an online class? Here are his thoughts as he pieced together his plan of action.

  • Collecting assignments online
    Set up a D2L dropbox for students to submit their assignments. Students can submit links to their online presentations, attach files, and also view any provided feedback through the D2L dropbox.
  • Grading and feedback
    Use D2L gradebook to organize, record and communicate grades to students. The Gradebook can also be used to calculate the final grades. Provide feedback to students individually through the D2L dropbox, gradebook, or email. You can also use the D2L discussion board to provide feedback to the entire class.
  • Using online quizzes
    D2L can be used to implement quizzes online including multiple questions, fill in the blank, written responses and more.

Related content

Teaching Remotely Checklist


Teaching Continuity: Labs, Seminars and Studios


Other resources

You may find the following websites and documents useful as you prepare to move your course online.

ACUE's online teaching toolkit

Resources and recommendations that can be immediately put to use by instructors, offered by the Association of College and University Educators, including videos on welcoming students, managing your online presence, organizing your course, planning and facilitating effective online discussions, and engaging students in readings and microlectures.

ACUE's online teaching toolkit (acue.org)

Moving online now: how to keep teaching during coronavirus

This special Chronicle collection includes guides and opinion pieces on online learning, to help faculty and staff members make the adjustment if that time comes.

Download PDF (chronicle.com)

Copyright Guidance for Transitioning Your Course Online

Pedagogical and technical issues may make the shift from in-person to online teaching a challenge but copyright concerns should not be a significant barrier. 

Learn more (library.ucalgary.ca)

STLHE: Keep Teaching

A curated list of resources for teaching and assessment online, convenient links to information on well-being, and links to information on responses by learning institutions. Includes pdf resources and webinars. 

Go to keepteaching.ca

Transforming COVID into a learning opportunity

Spending 1 hour educating students about COVID-19 may change the course of the pandemic. The COVID outbreak is disrupting teaching in many ways, but it also provides incredible learning opportunities.

Download PDF

Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist

The Quality Matters Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) Checklist is a tiered list of considerations, tips and actionable strategies to enact during an institutional move to temporary remote instruction of classroom-based courses.

See the checklist

Libraries and Cultural Resources: Special Circumstances

Check this website regularly for the latest COVID-19 updates from Libraries & Cultural Resources.

Learn more (library.ucalgary.ca)