Need Help with Online Teaching?
CTRL and the Online Learning Team are here to help you navigate the world of online teaching and Canvas. We have developed multiple guides for online teaching and instructor support. Please see the Canvas Help Page for more information.
Did you know we have a faculty innovation lab located in Monroe Library? Click here for more information.
Not sure who to contact? Please see this document for a list of available persons and their general roles.
- Know your audience. Your students are adults and expect to be treated as such. Most are in class because they want to improve their careers. Additionally, many online programs have a disproportionately high percentage of active-duty military personnel. Many of them work different or atypical shifts and can be called at any time to serve our country.
- Know your session. Depending on the semester, your course might not be offered in a typical 15-week session. Instead, it might be offered in condensed sessions. In some instances, your course might run during the 2-week winter session, or one of the 7-week summer sessions. Plan accordingly when designing your course and your assignments.
- Design your course for asynchronous delivery. Online students are located all over the world. They may live in different time zones or work different or atypical shifts (for example, four 10-hour days on, followed by three days off). If some synchronous communication is pedagogically necessary for specific assignments, have the students schedule it individually with you or in their groups.
- Use Canvas. Use rubrics. Faculty are required to use the institutionally supported learning management system, Canvas, to teach online. Post-traditional students will expect to see clear assignment rubrics, with specific details, to better allow them to be successful. For help with rubrics, please visit the accordion section on this page titled, "Looking for ready made or help with rubrics?".
- Be consistent. Students benefit from a consistent and simple interface to navigate the course. Remove any unused buttons from your navigation. Use a modular course design based on topics they should master. Whenever possible, schedule assignments to be due every week at the same time (for example, on Sunday at 11:59 pm EST or Monday at 8am EST). It helps working adults plan for the week. It gives them time to concentrate on assignments over the weekend when they usually have more free time to work on the course.
- Publish your course early. University policy dictates that your course be published one business day before the start of class, but you can make it available even earlier. Make the course available up to a week before the session begins so students can familiarize themselves with course content, structure, and assignments. This helps them manage their time and plan ahead for particularly busy weeks.
- Set weekly expectations. Use a short video, paragraph, or audio file to welcome students to class each week and provide an overview of the week’s activities. This helps keep students on track and engaged. You can make announcements visible on your course home page so they cannot miss it when the sign into your course.
- Respond in a timely manner. Communicate to your students in advance when you will grade and return their work. Use clear and concise language to let students know what it was that made the work compelling and how they can improve. Getting a timely response to a question (within 24 hours if possible) can help them stay on track, particularly when the course is offered during a condensed session.
- Include and participate in discussion forums. This is critical for engagement. It lets students know you have a presence in the course, and that the assignments are important and relevant to the content.
- Update and improve the course. Regularly review your course. Commit to updating content with relevant material based on feedback from students, peers, and administrators. Connect with an instructional designer from the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning to help design your course.
Association of American Colleges & Universities (2 Jan. 2011.). Research on Adult Learners: Supporting the Needs of a Student. Association of American Colleges & Universities. Retrieved from https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/research-adult-learners-supporting-needs-student-population-no
Crews, Bordonada, and Wilkinson (2017). Student Feedback on Quality Matters Standards for Online Course Design. Er.edu. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/6/student-feedback-on-quality-matters-standards-for-online-course-design
Jason Smith On (6 Mar. 2017.). 7 Strategies for Recruiting Adult Learners and Non-Traditional. OHO Interactive. Retrieved from https://www.oho.com/blog/marketing-and-recruiting-adult-learners-and-non-traditional-students
Julian Davis (14 May 2016.). Distance Education: 5 Ways To Engage Adult Learners – eLearning Industry. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/distance-education-5-ways-engaging-adult-learnersGerdeman, R. (2000). Academic dishonesty and the community college. ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges, University of California at Los Angeles.
Kara, M., Erdoğdu, F., Kokoç, M., & Cagiltay, K. (2019). Challenges faced by adult learners in online distance education: A literature review. Open Praxis, 11(1), 5-22. (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1213733.pdf)
Miller, A., Shoptaugh, C., & Parkerson, A. (2008). Under reporting of cheating in research using volunteer college students. College Student Journal, 42(2), 326–339.NA (8 Jul. 2014.). . Imperial.edu. Retrieved from
Newstead, S. E., Franklyn-Stokes, A., & Armstead, P. (1996). Individual differences in student cheating. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(2): 229–241. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.206
Stuber-McEwen, D., Wiseley, P., & Hoggatt, S. (2009). Point, click, and cheat: Frequency and type of academic dishonesty in the virtual classroom. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(3). Retrieved from https://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall123/stuber123.html
Vai, M., & Sosulski, K. (2015). Essentials of online course design: A standards-based guide. Routledge.
Teaching Through Emergencies
First, take a breath. You are not expected to recreate an on-ground course.
Plan, adapt, communicate.
In the event of an emergency that disrupts the residential learning environment, this guide provides instructors with a plan designed to lessen the impact. In preparation, instructors should make sure they have access to a quality webcam and a microphone for use on a home computer. Please note that internet stability is critical when working remotely. If you experience network slowness while working from home, you can also try turning off internet-heavy devices or services on your home network, like Netflix streams or video game consoles.
Access Tutorials and Resources - including Webinar Schedules.
Access our "emergencies" workshop here (Note, the first 5 minutes or so are missing due to a recording issue. We also apologize for any audience question audibility).
Communicating with Students
Tips for effectively communicating with students online:
- Be consistent with the digital tool selected for online communications, and be sure to post this information in a prominent location, such as the Syllabus page in Blackboard.
- Set expectations for how students should engage in the communication, including how they should contact the instructor.
- Set expectations with students for how quickly the instructor will respond to online communication.
- Try to respond to student questions in the coffee shop forum or by email within 24-48 hours. Let them know how long to expect until they will receive communications from you.
There are many ways in which instructors can host lectures with their students, either synchronously or asynchronously, using digital tools provided by Loyola. For a virtual, synchronous meeting Zoom web conferencing is a great solution. In a Zoom meeting, both instructors and students can share audio, video and screen presentations. There is also an option for the host of a Zoom video to record the session(s), which can be saved and posted to Blackboard after the session ends. Blackboard Collaborate may also be used, but Zoom is less clunky and will more easily meet your needs.
To optimize your synchronous Zoom lecture, we recommend:
- Use headphones or earbuds with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice.
- In your Zoom settings, opt to Mute Participants upon entry into the meeting. As the host of the meeting, instructors are able to mute and unmute participants at any point. QUICK TIP: Holding the space bar will allow a participant/host to quickly unmute.
- As the host of the meeting, instructors can turn on the Breakout Rooms feature in their Zoom settings for group discussion or group problem sets. In a Breakout Room, instructors can split the large meeting into separate rooms for small groups of students to work collaboratively.
To optimize your asynchronous Zoom lecture, we recommend:
- Draft a script or an outline of your ideas for your lecture before recording.
- Use headphones or earbuds with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice.
- Record longer lectures into smaller, separate video lectures, organized by topic, idea, or skill. By watching video lectures of less than 15 minutes each, learners are more likely to maintain focus and retain key information.
- Include quiz questions or polling throughout your lectures to engage learners and allow them to check for understanding as they watch.
- Upload PDF files, websites and media that support the content of your lecture to provide your learners a comprehensive and immersive learning experience.
- Share your presentation with students before the live session so students can follow along on their own screens without needing to squint their eyes.
- Do not use the waiting room feature. Instead allow participants to join before you and chat amongst themselves or put up an image on your screen share that tells them to "please stand by".
Tips for administering effective online discussions:
- Communicate clear guidelines in the prompt that establish your expectations for students’ contribution to the discussion. Many instructors choose to provide details about the writing style (e.g., formal/informal), number of posts, length (e.g., number of words), frequency, tone, and content (e.g., elements that constitute “value added”).
- Use threaded discussion responses to allow students to respond to one another multiple times in an organized way in each discussion board post.
- Be present in the discussion board by providing feedback and coaching to student responses.
- Encourage students to participate in a variety of ways that work for the individual student, including text, audio, or video.
- Create questions and prompts that require complex thinking and application of ideas to avoid repetitive student responses.
Tips for administering effective exams online:
- Create complex questions that require deep, analytical thinking skills to complete.
- Use time limits for the exam availability to maintain students’ focus during the exam.
- Allow students multiple attempts (e.g., 2) to allow for troubles with internet connectivity.
- Randomize the questions of a quiz to maximize academic integrity.
- Random question blocks allow you to use pools of questions to ensure not all students receive the same question on an online exam.
(Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Brown University for sharing their Teaching Continuity Guide with the community).