The guide below is designed for faculty starting at square one and often recommends a single solution for common elements of instruction. These solutions are evaluated and selected for their effectiveness and technical ease-of-use and are supported by Liberal Arts ITS should you need additional support.
Evaluate and revise your current syllabus.
The best place to start transitioning your course online is your syllabus, which will need to be evaluated and revised as part of the migration to online delivery.
- Start by thinking about (1) what will stay the same, (2) what needs to be removed, and (3) what needs to be revised to accommodate online delivery.
- Based on these decisions, update instructions in your syllabus around assignments/deadlines, scheduling, and other topics.
- Some considerations you might take into account in your revisions:
- Consider reducing or eliminating high-stakes assessments, especially high-value exams. Use multiple, low-stakes assessments (multiple choice and/or short answers) in their place as much as possible.
- Consider written, take-home-style exams if high-stakes assessments must go forward.
- Find alternatives for activities, materials, or assignments that cannot be moved online.
- If you move from a scheduled lecture (i.e. synchronous delivery) to pre-recorded lectures that students watch on their own schedule, set periodic deadlines to discourage binge-watching and/or falling behind. See below for more information comparing asynchronous to synchronous activities.
- Identify the appropriate tools for converting your current mode of instruction to online delivery.
- Experiment with and learn the tools that you plan on using. Conduct a trial run of a lecture, office hours, or other type of class instruction. Under the circumstances, rely on tools you and your students are familiar with as much as possible.
- Refer to this guide to working in Canvas.
- The Toolbox is an overview of supported tools and links to more information on using them.
- If you don’t find the solutions you need on these pages, contact your department’s instructional support team. You may also call Liberal Arts ITS Computer Support at 512-471-5000, chat, or email email@example.com, and you’ll be directed to support for your particular request.
- Contact friends and colleagues with online teaching experience in your department or college for advice, support, and training. Some of them will have already reached out via department or college mail lists; take them up on their offers!
Create a communication plan
You will need a communication plan to share changes in the syllabus with students, address their questions, and stay in touch with them regularly during the remainder of the semester. Make your students aware of the Keep Learning website, as well as the Canvas Course that provides students guidance and preparation for online learning tools.
- In many instances, Canvas Announcements is the best way to keep students informed. Whether you use announcements or another means of communication (like email), stick with whatever you choose so students know where to receive class information.
- Use Zoom to schedule regular online office hours. Be sure to turn on the “waiting room” setting to ensure a first-come, first-served approach.
- Consider community-building check-ins if it makes sense for your course type. Examples include hosting a Zoom session or sending a pre-recorded video message to students in Canvas.
Implement changes to your Canvas course
- Use Canvas Modules to organize your content.
- Use Canvas Assignments to convert assessments.
- Double check to ensure that your revised syllabus and Canvas course are consistent after you’ve made all your changes. Communicate the changes you have made to students.
- If you need support implementing changes in Canvas or other technical or instructional support, contact Liberal Arts ITS Computer Support, and you’ll be directed to support for your particular request.
Finally, submit a Course Plan for Instructional Continuity by Friday, April 3, at 5:00 PM for each class you teach. (See a PDF preview of this form). The university must have this documentation for accreditation and other compliance purposes.
Asynchronous vs Synchronous
You will see the terms asynchronous and synchronous often while digging through information on teaching online. Put simply, asynchronous activities between instructors and students do not happen in real-time, while synchronous activities occur “live” or in a way that closely resembles face-to-face interactions.
Choosing Between Asynchronous and Synchronous
Instructors should favor asynchronous activities whenever possible but incorporate synchronous activities where real-time experiences enhance learning.
Use asynchronous instruction for lecture courses where live discussion is not essential. It is much easier for students to access lectures and other materials when they can choose when to do so. They can find a time when the internet is less busy or their home is less noisy. If connections fail, they can try again. This is especially true for larger courses. All larger lecture courses should use asynchronous, on demand lectures during this COVID-19 emergency. Students will be undergoing a lot of stress. Give them the freedom to access your materials on their schedule.
Use synchronous instruction where live discussion is essential. Live Zoom meetings for foreign language classes, seminars, and office hours are prime examples. Note that LAITS does host large, synchronous lecture courses during normal semesters, but this will be difficult during the COVID-19 emergency with students experiencing widely varied internet conditions throughout the state. Reserve live meetings for smaller group sessions.
|Examples||– Recorded Lectures|
– Email and Canvas Announcements
– Take-home style exams
|– Live Lectures|
– Live group discussion
– Live office hours
|Advantages||– Fewer technical problems to overcome|
– Allows students a more flexible schedule
|– More participation|
– Immediate feedback
– Students feel more connected with other students
|Drawbacks||– No live discussion and feedback|
– Requires more self-discipline from students
|– Technical failure can disrupt class|
– Inflexible schedule
|Overcoming Drawbacks||– Frequent communication to students|
– Frequent low-stakes quizzes or other assessments with deadlines
– Live offices hours using Zoom meetings
|– Reserve for smaller groups|
– Communicate Zoom meeting best-practices to students
– Record live sessions for students who were unable to attend
Canvas, Panopto, and Zoom will help instructors move large elements of their course online. Instructors should learn how to use each one. Note that we recommend Panopto for asynchronous lectures but instructors who have begun using Zoom should feel free to continue doing so.
The University takes privacy and security seriously. All software must be approved by the Information Security Office (ISO) before it can be used on campus. All software mentioned on this site is approved by ISO.
Ready for more tools? Consult our full Toolbox.
Canvas: Course Hub for Communication, Materials, and Assignments
This is the organizational hub for your course. It is the centralized place to post learning resources and administer your course. You can use Canvas to share course plans, assignments, class announcements, and other information with your students. Both Panopto and Zoom are integrated into the Canvas environment.
Panopto: Asynchronous Video Recording
Panopto is a lecture capture tool that records webcam, PowerPoint/Keynote slides, computer screen, and audio. Students view these recordings via Canvas. As viewers, students can take notes, place bookmarks, and comment on your recording. You also have the ability to place low-stakes quizzes into the recordings. Consult the Toolbox for help documentation on how to install and use Panopto.
Zoom: Synchronous Meetings
Zoom should be used for live, synchronous meetings. It has a limit of 300 but is best used with 25 or fewer participants. Zoom allows you to communicate over video and audio as well as share your desktop with your students. Students can comment in real-time via video or text-based chat. You can record these sessions for others to view later. Get Zoom and learn more about how you can use it in the Toolbox.
Update: Be aware of Zoombombing and steps you can take to prevent it.
Recommendations for Common Class Needs
Below are several use cases and recommended tools for instructors to use when moving their course online. That said, instructors should continue to use what they are most familiar with. Many faculty have experimented with Zoom, for example, and may prefer to continue doing so in lieu of recommendations below.
I need to convert my lectures to online
Tools needed: Panopto
Panopto is recommended as the user-friendly tool for pre-recording lectures to deliver to students who can watch in their own time.
Panopto allows you to pre-record lectures and load them to Canvas for students to watch asynchronously/on demand. Panopto provides an editable transcription for instructors to accommodate students with accessibility needs; more info on accessibility below. Consult the Toolbox for help documentation on how to install and use Panopto.
I need to teach a small discussion based class (20 students or less) and I need to go online
Tools needed: Zoom
Hold synchronous discussion through Zoom. See additional information on how to use Zoom in the Toolbox.
I need to teach a large discussion based class (over 20 students) online
I need to teach a language course (30 students or less) and I need to move my discussions online
Tools needed: Zoom, Canvas
Hold synchronous discussion through Zoom and asynchronous discussions using Canvas Discussions. Additional documentation, including Canvas and Zoom video tutorials produced by language instructors, can be found here.
I need to deliver assessments online
Tools needed: Canvas, Proctorio
Multiple choice, short-answer or essay quizzes through Canvas are recommended, using questions banks and shuffle question/response options to promote academic honesty.
Implement Proctorio for high-stakes assessments delivered via Canvas Quizzes to monitor student behavior and deter academic dishonesty. Proctorio is an AI-based Google Chrome extension software which can deter problematic behaviors and monitor the students for suspicious activities during the assessment. Instructors should continue to write effective, discriminating exam questions.
The University takes privacy and security seriously. All software must be approved by the Information Security Office (ISO) before it can be used on campus. Proctorio has been approved by ISO and is available for faculty use at UT Austin.
I need online proctoring for my assessments
Tools needed: Proctorio, Canvas
Implement Proctorio for assessments delivered via Canvas Quizzes to monitor student behavior and promote academic honesty. Proctorio is an AI-based Google Chrome extension which integrates into Canvas and deters problematic behaviors by monitoring students during assessment. Instructors should continue to write effective, discriminating exam questions. Consult the Toolbox to learn more about how to use Proctorio.
I need to teach a large lecture class (150-250 students) with labs (20-30 students) online
Tools needed: Panopto, Zoom
Pre-record lectures through Panopto. If the labs require meeting in real-time use Zoom for synchronous discussion. If labs can be converted to asynchronous assignments this is preferred. Consult the Toolbox for help documentation on how to use Zoom and Panopto.
I need to accept handwritten assessments from students (like Chemistry, Math, or Chinese)
Tools needed: Gradescope
Use Gradescope to streamline grading and feedback for handwritten work.
Accommodations for Students
UT is obligated to ensure that all courses are accessible to students who may need additional accommodations. More information can be found at the Providing Accommodations and Instructional Continuity page built by the Services for Students with Disabilities group.
If your course has enrolled students with SSD accommodations that necessitate captions or transcripts–such as students with Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing accommodations–you must make these captions or transcripts available to the student and should not post video or audio material without them, in order to comply with University guidelines and ADA requirements.
I have a student with an SSD accommodation in my course.
If a student in your class uses live transcription services (CART), and if you intend to host virtual live classes for the rest of the semester, the student will likely continue to use their CART services. For classes held on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms, the student should pass along the conference link to their captioning provider. The captionist will participate as a student to receive audio, providing live captions to the student privately through the chat screen.
If you intend to post new or additional video or audio material, UT Libraries’ Captioning and Transcription Services will provide captions and transcripts. Fill out a request form at https://captioning.lib.utexas.edu/.
- Note that your request is an ADA request for a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing individual
- Turnaround is between 2-5 business days
- Your request will be prioritized with no cost to your department
If you have additional questions please see Services for Students with Disabilities for information about ADA compliance and SSD accommodations or UT Libraries’ Captioning and Transcription Services for captioning and transcription needs.
I do not have a student with SSD accommodations in my course.
Faculty are encouraged to auto-caption their materials, bearing in mind that these auto-captions may need review and manual editing for readability and accuracy.
Update: Panopto currently provides a faster turnaround time for auto-captioning than Zoom, though faculty should bear in mind that turnaround times are variable depending on the length of their recorded material and the fluctuating load on each platform.
Ensuring Academic Integrity
Ensuring academic integrity presents a unique challenge when moving your course online. There are several ways to design assessments as well as online automated proctoring to ensure that students continue to uphold the Code of Conduct and Honor Code in an online course.
- Use questions banks and shuffle question/response option order in Canvas Quizzes to promote academic honesty.
- Consider online proctoring with Proctorio for high-stakes assessments.
- If you do not already have one, draft an Academic Honesty policy statement for your class. This statement may include 1) a message that academic dishonesty will not be tolerated; 2) test-taking/assignment rules/what specific behaviors constitute academic dishonesty for the course, including policies as they relate to group projects, social media, plagiarism; 3) The UT Code of Conduct and Honor Code.
Put your Academic Honesty policy statement in your 1) syllabus; 2) a pre-recorded or live lecture; and 3) possibly in assignment instructions. For more information, visit the Office of the Dean of Students website.