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Campus Alert

Faculty teaching at Carroll Community College may come across a variety of reasons that require them to move their course content into an online environment with short notice: weather instances, campus closures or virus outbreaks. The Office of Online Learning wants all full-time and part-time faculty to be aware of the resources available to them should the on-campus teaching and learning environment be interrupted. Technology is available to help faculty make quick changes to deliver their course content electronically through our Canvas LMS.

In the event of a situation that closes the College for an ongoing period of time, you may need to move your course online quickly. We have outlined a few things to consider.

Plug In, Plan Ahead

  • Visit e2Campus and sign up, if necessary, for the College’s emergency and closing alerts.
  • Assess your technology needs and access ahead of time so you aren’t caught off guard. For example, do you and your students have a strong wifi connection at home? Do you and your students have a laptop or mobile device to engage with each other and course content?
  • Communicate with students right away
  • Tell your students in advance what is needed to connect to your course and get their lessons on Canvas.
  • Even as you form a plan, use email or Canvas to communicate with your students.
  • Share your expectations for checking email or Canvas for information.
  • Share when you will be available by phone and/or by Canvas Conferences or MS Teams.
  • Students will have a lot of questions; manage expectations for how quickly they can expect a response from you.
  • Save your Coordinator’s contact information as s/he will be your first point of contact during a campus closure.
  • You can contact Online Learning for assistance by submitting a KACE ticket via email to  or emailing Andrea Gravelle, Director of Online Learning at or Suzi Mazzenga, Instructional Designer, at for assistance.

Teaching Is a Creative Process – You’ve Got This!

  • Depending on your course situation, it may take some creativity to envision a new way to produce the same results.
  • In-class presentations? Have students record a video.
  • In-class discussion? Use a live webinar such as Canvas Conferences, set up a MS Teams Meeting (via Canvas), or create a discussion board.
  • Written exam? Convert to digital format and have students submit as attachment through Canvas. Faculty can also build the exam in Canvas.

Use Tools that Are Familiar to You and Your Students

  • Any emergency event creates a lot of stress. Be gentle and flexible with yourself and your students.
  • Introducing too many new tools and approaches may leave even less energy for learning.
  • It’s okay to select low-tech solutions to accomplish course outcomes.
  • Ensuring accessibility of your Canvas course, essential for students with disabilities (e.g., students who are blind, have low vision or who use assistive technology), is beneficial to all students. Ally (coming to canvas Sept. 2020) can help you create accessible documents, and you may find the Carroll Accessibility Tutorials in the Faculty Resources area of Canvas helpful.

Your learning goals developed for a traditional face-to-face instructional modality can still be met if you must move online suddenly, particularly if you attend to some changes in the instructor-student, student-content, and student-student dynamics. The following principles are best practices of online teaching and learning.

Instructor to Student

Communicate with Students

Students will look to their instructors for information and clear direction as well as a sense of normalcy when a crisis impacts all or part of campus. Be timely and specific about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety. Taking advantage of tools to broadcast your message (e.g., Announcements, email) will save you time in dealing with lots of individual questions.

Keep these principles in mind:

  • Communicate early and often, but don’t swamp students with email. Suggest that students ensure their Canvas notification preferences are set to alert them when new Announcements are posted or new messages have been sent.
  • Use your syllabus to set expectations about the means and frequency with which you will communicate with students. Regardless of the instructional modality, it is always a good idea to tell students both how often you expect them to check their email and how quickly they can expect a response from you. Define what communication methods you will accept, e.g., the Canvas Messages or Course Mail.
  • Use a discussion forum to share your response to frequently asked questions so all students can benefit from the information. Encourage students to check the forum first for answers before emailing you.

Collect Assignments

  • Canvas assignments can be designed to accept digital content from students. The main challenge during a campus disruption is whether students have access to computers and a network for doing the work and accessing the learning management system.
  • Require only common software: Students may not have access to specialty software located in on-campus computer labs. Faculty and students have free access to Microsoft Office365.
  • Avoid emailed attachments: It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Use Canvas to receive and review student work via assignments.
  • Require specific filenames: If you plan to download student submissions to grade offline, you will find it easier to manage 20 files with unique, but similarly structured file names (e.g., FirstnameLastname-Essay1.docx) than 20 files named Essay1.docx.

Assess Student Learning

Use features in the Canvas quiz tool that randomize the order in which possible question answers are provided; use question banks to deliver a different quiz experience to each student.

Consider alternatives to quizzes for doing formative or summative assessment. Scaffolded, multi-part projects enable students to demonstrate not only their grasp of concepts but also their critical thinking and digital fluency skills.

Student to Content

Share Course Materials and Readings

You may need to provide additional course materials as you shift more instruction online. Remember that if the College is closed, requests for Course Reserves may not be processed; identify other web-based materials(or have your students identify and share content appropriate to a learning objective).

When posting new course materials:

  • Notify students of the availability of content and its location (Canvas files, OneDrive, etc.). Suggest that students change their Canvas notification preferences to alert them when new materials are posted.
  • Make sure your resources are “mobile friendly.” In a crisis, many students may only have a phone available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats: PDFs, mp3s, and mp4s work well. Save Word and PowerPoint documents to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets, and keep the file size small. Remediate the accessibility of such files before saving them as PDFs*. Videos take lots of bandwidth, some students may not have the network capacity in their off-campus locations to view them. Any video shared must be captioned.
    *PDFs must be searchable.
  • Let your students know that they can download different formats of any document you post as a tagged pdf, HTML, ePub, Electronic braille, and mp3 by clicking the Ally icon Ally Icon that appears next to attachments in Canvas.
    Note: This feature will not be available in Canvas until fall 2020.

Deliver Lectures

Many faculty use Kaltura to capture presentations and embed the recording in their Canvas space for student viewing. You can record your voice (with or without a webcam), your computer screen (displaying PowerPoint, Keynote, other software program or web browser content), and additional input from another camera or document camera. Kaltura auto-captions, but please edit those as they are notoriously inaccurate.

See the Kaltura Help document in the faculty Resources tab for instructions on recording, embedding, and correcting captions.

Canvas Conferences or MS Teams in Canvas allows you and your students to meet online in real-time. Students can participate using a computer or smartphone. Instructors can share presentations, their desktop, or a whiteboard, as well as engage students with polling questions and breakout rooms for small group discussion.

Run Lab Activities

A major challenge of teaching during a building or campus closure is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space.

Considerations for short-term closures might include:

  • Moving aspects of lab activities online, particularly those that require students to familiarize themselves with procedures or data analysis or manipulation.
  • Providing video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, and other pre- or post-lab work to prepare students to hit the ground running when the campus reopens.

Some Considerations for Students with Disabilities

  • Ensuring accessibility of your Canvas course is essential for students with disabilities and is beneficial to all students.
  • The most common academic accommodation is extended time for exams/quizzesCanvas allows faculty to provide extra time on all timed assessments (quizzes, midterms, and final exams). Students taking online exams and quizzes should not be required to be proctored.
  • Ensure that all videos and multimedia used in your course (own videos and external sources) are correctly captioned (pdf).

Student to Student

Foster Communication and Collaboration Among Students

Fostering communication between students is important because it provides a sense of community (particularly during unusual times), and it allows you to reproduce any collaboration you build into your course to help keep students motivated to participate and learn. Many students are familiar with the Canvas discussions tool, and it provides an easy gateway to other student-to-student communication and collaboration strategies.

Consider these suggestions when planning activities:

  • Use asynchronous tools when possible: Having students participate in live online conversations can be useful, but be mindful of potential technology challenges they (or you) may have based on personal location. Bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools like Collaborate.
  • Align student-to-student interactions to course and module outcomes: Activities well suited to online interaction can be strategically planned to meet outcomes and prepare students for additional assignments or projects.
  • Motivate active communication: Make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations through clear assessment rubrics. Have students reflect on their contributions and on what they learned from the conversation through a personal blog or journal.
  • Create student groups: You can create student groups in Canvas, which gives each group its own breakout page and set of communication tools. Group assignments, peer review, and Google Doc co-authorship are all valuable ways to facilitate group work in the online environment.

The Canvas community guide provides step-by-step instructions for the most common tasks and tools in Canvas.

Microsoft Teams is a conferencing tool for live, multi-media, and many-to-many collaboration. For more information visit

See also:

A variety of additional resources are available on Canvas Faculty resources .

The Canvas Community Guide provides a wide array of videos and help documents to assist you with Canvas.

For more information on Canvas at Carroll Community College visit:

Visit the Canvas resource support page.

Adapted with permission from Montgomery College. Emergency Remote Teaching Guides. (n.d.). Retrieved March 9, 2020, from College