All Lehigh classes will be taught remotely for the 2020 spring and summer semesters.
The purpose of this page is to help instructors quickly learn and apply the fundamentals of online teaching and learning. You can find campus-wide updates on Lehigh's main COVID-19 News site.
A version of this page, tailored specifically for teaching online in the summer session can be found in our Summer Online Course Planning guide.
We are in the process of updating this page to support course development for fall 2020, under an assumption that at least some instruction will need to be online to accomodate students or faculty who are quarantined or otherwise unable to attend class on-campus. If you are here to start planning for fall, the ideas presented will be helpful to get you started.
CITL Faculty Workshops on Online Teaching: The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, other LTS staff, and faculty presenters have offered a number of workshops for Lehigh instructors covering topics outlined in this guide. Visit the workshop series website to view previous live session recordings or to register for upcoming workshops.
Read on to learn how to:
- Use Course Site as your core online learning platform
- Develop a framework for your course
- Communicate and connect with students
- Post course materials
- Deliver lectures
- Interact with students through online course activities
- Assess student learning online
First Steps: If you are creating an online course in response to an emergency situation, focus on the “First Steps” in each section below. You don’t need to build a whole course at once or use every online tool from the start. Instead, design core course activities for your first day, then gradually explore other elements.
If at any point in this process, you need technical support or help with the teaching approaches recommended here contact the LTS Help Desk.
610-758-4357 (8-HELP) | Text 610-616-5910 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Chat
Course Site will be the core learning platform for all courses and should be your primary means of communicating with students, delivering content, enabling interaction, creating assessments, and keeping a gradebook. Instructors may link to other tools and sites from within Course Site, but Course Site should be students’ first stop. Think of Course Site not just as a suite of instructional tools but also as a way for you to visually communicate to students how your course is organized, what they are supposed to do, and when they are supposed to do it.
First Steps: If you have not already done so, request a Course Site for your course.
Sample Course Site, organized by function:
The fundamental idea for your online course is this: You will record lectures and learning activities that your students will complete within a 24-48 hour timeframe before class meets, and then hold interactive classess and office hours synchronously using Zoom. How you balance those four elements (recorded lecture; asynchronous online learning activities; live lecture; live interaction) is up to you and may vary widely based on your pedagogical preferences, course type, course learning objectives, etc. But the hope is that all courses will have each of these four elements to some degree.
Principle 1: Ideally, online courses should have an asynchronous part and a synchronous part. "Asynchronous" means you are not necessarily online at the same time as your students; instead, you create online course activities that the students complete during a specified time period (usually within a 24-48 hour window). "Synchronous" means you are online at the same time as your students.
|Class, Pt 1: Asynchronous Learning||Class, Pt 2: Synchronous Learning|
|To prepare this part, instructors will |
_ Watch Check-in Video
Lectures, with Opportunities for Interaction
5 min: Getting Started
Office Hours: One-two hours per week on Zoom.
Principle 2: The four requirements of this framework are:
(a) all online work must be either in Course Site or linked to from Course Site (so students know where to go);
(b) all synchronous class meetings must be held during your scheduled class meeting times, unless all students have agreed to a time change;
(c) each class session should contain some interactivity or active learning elements (i.e., opportunities for students to interact with the instructor, ask and respond to questions, receive feedback, etc.).
(d) wherever possible, use Lehigh's recommended technology tools as doing so reduces the number of tools students have to learn and improves support for student and faculty.
Principle 3: Within this basic framework, you will have a great deal of flexibility. It is up to each instructor to decide
- course learning outcomes
- the course content, lecture approach, types of active learning elements, and assessments that are most likely to move students toward meeting course learning objectives
- the relative weight of the asynchronous and synchronous parts;
- the relative weight of the lecture and active learning elements within each part.
With this framework and principles in mind, you can now begin to develop the specific elements of your online course. As you do, we recommend that you:
- Keep the major learning outcomes for the course in mind (i.e., what knowledge and skills do you expect students to have gained when the course is over?).
- Determine which assignments, projects, or exams will allow your students to demonstrate that they have met these main course objectives. These are the major assessments for the course.
- Then, begin determining what specific coursework you will ask students to do that will enable them to acquire the knowledge and develop the abilities that they will need to succeed in the major assessments you just identified.
For more detail on this framework, see the CITL's "Recommended Pedagogy for Online Teaching"
Consistent, clear, reliable communication from instructors is a crucial element of successful online teaching. Good communication builds course community, creates a sense of teacher presence, and helps students understand that this is a real course with academic expectations that are fundamentally the same as a traditional on-campus course.
Bear in mind that online learning will likely be new for most of your students, too, so they will rely on you to communicate expectations, explain course logistics, and provide updates in a regular, predictable way.
We strongly recommend that you use the Announcements feature in Course Site for all course-wide communications. When you post an Announcement, all students enrolled in the class will receive it as an email, after a short delay. To send it immediately, click 'Advanced' for options.
Why use Announcements? Doing so keeps all communications in one place and creates an easy-to-access archive of communications. This approach ensures that all students know where to go for information, assignments, and updates. If you use email instead, you will likely find yourself sending the same email multiple times if students delete or lose track of the emails they have received.
We also recommend that you create a Discussion Forum called something like “Course Logistics: Post here any general questions about assignments, due dates, etc.” and instruct students to use that forum for questions about how the course functions, questions about assignments details, deadlines for coursework, etc. instead of emailing you directly. Doing so ensures that all students see the question and your answer. When students forget and email you directly, remind them to post their question in that forum. If you use this approach, it is important also to invite students to email you directly for any personal matters or questions about their individual work, grades, class performance, etc.
First Steps: As soon as your Course Site is set up and students are enrolled, send students a Course Site Announcement to let them know that you are in the process of setting up your Course Site and that they will receive more information and instructions from you shortly.
Tips for promoting Teacher Presence in your online course:
- Perform a survey before the course starts or very early on: ask about student readiness (do they have the technology and course materials they need?), ask what time zones they are in, ask whether there are any special circumstances you should know about).
- Check in with students personally.
- Communicate frequently.
- Respond promptly to questions posted in the Course Logistics Forum and to emails about individual work or personal performance.
- Provide regular, prompt feedback on activities and projects.
- Create a clear structure, but be flexible and adaptable based on student need.
- Hold consistent virtual office hours.
- Every few weeks invite feedback on course methods: ("Of the things I am doing in our course, which want me to keep doing because you find them helpful? Which do you want me to stop doing or do less of because you do not find them helpful? Are there things I am not doing that you would like me to start doing?").
In an online environment, instructors have multiple ways of sharing course materials with students, but the simplest approach is to upload documents, create links to web resources in Course Site, or create a Perusall assignment.
First Steps: If students are relying on you for access to course documents, readings, etc., prepare now to get those materials into a digital format.
- Upload course materials, content, or add links.
- Create direct links to Lehigh library resources(journals, databases, E-books, etc) or point students to https://library.lehigh.edu
- If you cannot find digital materials, you can scan using a smart phone using Adobe Scan or JotNote.
- When campus is open, scanners are available at the Fairchild-Martindale Library behind the Help Desk.
- Accessibility and Universal Design tips for scanning, creating OCR-ready PDFs, creating accessible Microsoft Word docs, etc.
First Steps: Review your syllabus and set a timeline for your readings, policies, due dates, assignments, etc. Now may be a good time to revisit your Course Objectives and give some thought to ensuring that course readings, assignments, lecture plans ,and assessment align with those objectives. Also, a caveat: It is tempting to add additional work when moving a class online in part because it is relative easy for the instructor for the instructor to do so--it is only a matter of adding assignments--and in part because it can be difficult to gauge student workload. Double check your reading assignments and coursework to make sure it is not becoming unreasonable. When you have finished, post your syllabus online, under the Announcements link at the top of your Course Site main page. Bear in mind that good practice recommends soliciting feedback on the workload and calibrating based on their input, performance, etc.
Now that you have prepared your course material, it is time to create and deliver lectures. Here we use the term "lecture" to refer to both direct instruction (explaining of difficult concepts, presenting information, interpreting texts, offering illustrations, doing demonstrations, etc.) and also more interactive lectures (which combine direct instruction with active learning, facilitated discussions, Socratic teaching, collaborative learning, etc).
Approach 1: Post Your Course Lectures as Written Documents
One straightforward, low-tech way to deliver course lecture material is to type out in a document what you would have said during lecture and then post this document in Course Site. Since these notes are meant to be read by students rather than heard during class, compose them so they are clear and easy to understand. Although this approach is primarly for direct instruction, some notes can also integrate active applied learning, if students are directed to complete certain activities at key moments while reading the notes. That said, there is no opportunity for interactivity and so, while some students may prefer to read rather than listen to lectures; written notes should not be your only way of delivering your lecture material.
First Steps: Upload any Course Lecture documents or create a 'Page' in your Course Site. If you create a 'Page' in Course Site, type in some draft lecture notes now so you can see how they will appear to students and so you are familiar with how to add, edit, and post content. You can add images to your page. If you often write equations or diagrams on the board during class, one way to replicate this for students is to upload the image into your Course Lecture page together with your commentary. Continue adding lecture material when you are ready to do so. Give your lecture documents descriptive names so your students can easily find the correct lecture when they need to do so.
Options: As an alternative to placing your Course Lectures in Course Site, you could create a shared Google folder with your Course Lecture documents as Google Docs. In the folder sharing settings, select "viewable by anyone at Lehigh with the link," then "get sharable link," and add that link in Course Site so students know where to find this shared Google folder.
Approach 2: Pre-Record Video Lectures for Students
Panopto is a video-creation tool available through Course Site. You can use Panopto to create Video Lectures that present content, explain difficult concepts, etc., just as you would when lecturing in a face-to-face class. Instructors record themselves by using their computer's built-in camera and microphone or a webcam. Panopto also allows simultaneous capture of the contents of an instructor's screen (i.e., to show lecture slides or other material).
Getting Started with Panopto: Follow these steps to provision Panopto and record a brief Introduction video as a way to learn how to use the system.
- Keep recorded lectures brief (ideally 10-15 minutes). If your typical lecture is longer than that, break it into smaller sections of this length. You may find it hard to do this at first, but please know that it is hard for students (hard for anyone, really) to stay focused on a recorded lecture that is longer than this, and attention begins to fade after 10-15 minutes. If you have more material, record two separate shorter videos.
- Separate content-heavy lectures from more personalized or semester-specific communications. That is, create one video that explains a difficult concept, and create a separate video to connect with students more personally, reflect on current events, give general feedback to students, provide instructions on an assignment, etc. This approach will make it easier for you to reuse content-specific lecture videos, will also make it easier for students to know where they need to go for which material, and will convey to student that you care not only about the course content but also about them, as individuals in this class, this semester.
- Bear in mind that pre-recorded lectures are a form of direct instruction, so it is a good idea to assign a post-lecture activity to complete after viewing each recorded lecture. The idea is to help them solidify their understanding of the lecture material, apply concepts, practice skills, discover misunderstandings, etc. Some possibilities:
- Homework assignment from the textbook.
- A ConcepTest, i.e., a Course Site Quiz or Google Forms Quiz asking a few questions to measure understanding of concepts in readings and lectures;
- Shared Explanations: students write an explanation, in a shared doc, of an assigned course concept;
- Collective Course Notes: students take turns writing course notes on lecture and readings in a shared doc—highlighting confusing concepts and posing at the end questions for you and for each other;
- Studend-driven Q&A: students take turns posing questions from the reading in a shared doc—other students write answers.
- Presentations: Designated student(s) prepare a presentation (Panopto video, or create slides in a shared Google Slides to be discussed during class, or prep for a live presentation in an upcoming Zoom session. Done well, this lecture-activity-lecture-activity approach during the asynchronous part of your course will reinforce learning, increase retention of knowledge, while also cueing you into areas of student confusion that you can address in an upcoming interactive class.
- CITL Tips for High Quality Recordings: Location, Lighting, and Sound
- Sample Panopto-produced Video
- Use headphones or earbuds with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice.
- Tips for capturing hand-written formulas, equations, etc.
- Give your lectures descriptive names so your students can easily find the correct lecture.
Approach 3: Create Live Interactive Lectures
This approach is best for teaching sessions where you shift frequently between short lectures and synchronous interactions with students. With this approach, you and your students will need to log in to Course Site during your designated course meeting time, unless all students agree to a change of schedule.
Getting Started with Zoom: Create a Zoom session with a friend or colleague to become familiar with how to create a session and how to use the software.
- Watch CITL's video "Getting Started with Zoom" [slides]
- Read CITL's handout "Creating Interactive Lectures in Zoom"
- Watch CITL's video "Live Online Interactive Sessions"
- Read "Best Practices for Hosting a Zoom Session"
- Read CITL's "Tips for High Quality Recordings: Location, Lighting, and Sound"
- Point your students to this site before your first Zoom Session: "Best Practices for Zoom Meeting Attendees"
- Instructors have the option of sharing screens, visibly annotating on shared documents, and creating opportunities for student-student collaboration through Breakout Rooms (which splits a large class into separate rooms for small groups of students to work collaboratively).
- Instructors can choose to record sessions and make them available for the class to watch again later.
- When you set up your meeting, be sure to select "Only authenticated users can join" to avoid "Zoom-bombing" incidents.
- As the host of the meeting, instructors are able to mute and unmute participants at any point. When you start a Zoom session with many participants, opt to “Mute Participants” upon entry into the meeting and during ‘pure lecture’ time. Unmute only when you wish to create opportunities for discussion.
- If you need to use Zoom for purposes beyond this course, you can access Zoom directly at lehigh.zoom.us using your Lehigh username and password.
- If you have very large classes that would diminish interactivity in Zoom, or are holding a non-interactive direct-instruction-style lecture, you may wish to consider pre-recording your lectures using Panopto (see above) or live streaming your lecture using Panopto’s live webcast feature instead of Zoom.
Delivering Course Lectures: Selecting the Right Approach at the Right Time.
So, when should you use Lecture documents, when should you use Panopto videos, when should you use Zoom sessions? There is no single right answer.
During your synchronous sessions, Zoom allows you to have everyone online together at the same time, creating an opportunity for you to lecture “live” while simultaneously interacting with students, posing questions, soliciting responses from students, engaging in Socratic dialogue, etc.
As you prepare your asynchronous sessions, you may find benefit in having more time to write out or record your lectures in advance, and pre-recorded videos are a great way to deliver complex material efficiently, especially if you find it challenging to lecture while also facilitating a live Zoom session. Writing or pre-recording lectures also has the advantage of creating documents or videos you can repurpose in future classes.
As suggested in the framework above, the best answer is to combine the three approaches. Create some lecture documents, supplement them with pre-recorded lectures and class activities to be completed within a certain timeframe, and then hold discussion sessions and office hours synchronously using Zoom. This combination approach has the advantage of letting you carefully construct re-usable lectures material while also creating opportunities for the spontaneity and interactivity of a live online discussion.
- Read this CITL Handout: Recommended Pedagogy for Online Teaching
- Watch a recording of CITL's workshop on "Delivering Lectures Online: Three Methods"
In addition to sharing course material and delivering lectures, instructors also provide feedback to students, pose questions, answer questions, and create opportunities for instructor-student and student-student interaction. The most effective online activities require students to intellectually engage with the course content and to receive formative feedback from their instructors. This handout illustrates how these various elements fit together: Recommended Pedagogy for Online Teaching
As noted above, Zoom sessions can be used for Interactive Lectures (which combine direct instruction with interactivity).
Zoom can also be used for discussion sessions, recitation sessions, or office hours in which instructors pose questions, give immediate feedback on answers, respond to student questions, etc. For "live" online sessions, please bear in mind that, because you may have students living in a wide range of time zones, students may be logging into your course in the middle of the night. You may wish to find out which timezone your students are in and, if you see that some are facing this challenge, please make it clear whether or not they are required to be present during your live sessions--or if they are permitted to watch recorded videos later. Also, if you plan to hold synchronous office hours, please do what you can to do so at times that accommodate the timezones where your students are.
An alternative is to use an online discussion forum, which many faculty use for discussion-intensive courses. Because the forum is asynchronous, you'll find that, used well, it will broaden and deepen student participation becuse all students participate and they have more time to formulate and express more substantial responses.
First Steps: Create a Course Site Discussion Forum for your first Class Session, Week or Unit.
Teaching Tips for using Course Site Discussion Forum:
- If you are teaching a discussion-intensive course, you may find this resource helpful: Discussion-based Online Classes - Sample Weekly Workflow for Instructors and Students.
- Asynchronous discussions work best when instructors post open-ended prompts that direct students to engage with the course material, producing work other students can respond to, and the instructor can review.
- If you have a large class, create groups to make student discussions more manageable. To enable Group Mode in your Forum, edit your Forum settings. Under "Common Module Settings" change Group Mode to 'visible groups or 'separate groups.'
- Encourage students to respond to one another. One method to do this is to require each student to post one response to the prompt and at least one post in response to another student.
- If you want students to post their own response before seeing other students’ responses, select “Q & A Forum” under Forum Type. To deepen student-student interaction, give students a deadline to post their response, a second deadline to post a response to three classmates, and a third deadline for the original poster to post a follow-up summary that addresses the three responses.
- You don't need to respond to every student's post but you should keep up to speed on the discussion by spot checking various posts. It is a good idea to give some kind of feedback, even if you only select a few posts and a few responses and write/record your thoughts on them. For example, in your next lecture, you can refer to and respond to select discussion posts calling attention to specific things students said. Or you can respond once-a-week to each student's summary post. Or, if you prefer not to post in the discussion forum, you can assign a separate writing assignment that challenges students to build on the online discussion--then give feedback on that assignment as you would on an essay or paper.
- Promote productive discussions by posting discussion forum guidelines and making participation part of the course grade.
- Students have been provided with this guide: Preparing for Remote Learning: Ten Crucial Steps for Students. You may wish to familiarize yourself with what they are reading, and remind them to consult it as they begin your online class.
Other approaches that foster student-student and faculty-student interaction:
- Perusall is a powerful tool, built into Course Site, that lets you combine student readings with student annotation, inquiry, and discussion about course readings. Done well, student discussion take place in the margins of their reading. Tip: For the first few assignments, post some questions in the margins and have students either post responses or post their own questions. Later, have each student post one comment or question and reply to one comment or question for each posted reading assignment. Give them tips on what kind of posts you are looking for. Spot check their posts. At first, give general feedback regarding quality, then after a week or two, give individual feedback to students who are falling short in terms of quality and quantity of posts. When you set up a Perusall assignment, you can decide how many posts students are expected to make and the Perusall gradebook will automatically assign a grade to student work. We recommend you don't rely exclusively on the Perusall grade, but it can help you see who has completed the assignment.
When students cannot take a quiz or an exam in a traditional physical classroom, instructors will need to create online assessments.
Creating quizzes or exams:
First Steps: Use Course Site Quizzes, a robust quiz feature that allows you to create a variety of different types of quizzes (e.g., multiple choice, essay, etc).
- Some textbooks offer online quizzes and exams that integrate with Course Site. Check with your publisher to see if this is available to you.
- In spring 2020, Lehigh did not use a centrally funded or centrally supported online proctoring service for any courses that just moved online during spring 2020. If online learning continues in Fall, we will provide additional guidance on this question. Rather than rely on remote proctoring, we recommend you start with Promoting Academic Integrity During Remote Learning and then, for exams and quizzes, follow the Online Assessment Best Practices document, which explains how you can set up quizzes in a way that diminishes the likelihood that students will violate academic integrity policies.
- Watch CITL's video module "Creating Quizzes and Exams in Course Site"
- Watch a recording of CITL's workshop "Creating Quizzes and Exams in Course Site"
- Watch a recording of CITL's workshop on "Creating Online exams in computation-heavy STEM courses"
Assigning essays and papers
- If you have questions related to designing effective assignments in an online context, consult the director of Lehigh's Writing Across the Curriculum program, the Digital Scholarship project manager, or your subject librarian.
- If you want student work analyzed to affirm academic integrity, we recommend you start with Promoting Academic Integrity During Remote Learning, then read On the Effective Use of Turnitin and then set up a Turnitin Assignment or Google Assignment in Course Site in Course Site to collect student essays/papers. Turnitin creates a Similarity Score for each submitted paper and highlights potentially unoriginal text. Also, Grademark is a feature built into Turnitin that allows you to comment directly on student papers, give overall comments, record voice comments, and create rubrics for quick, focused feedback.
- Watch a CITL's video on "Assessing Student Learning Online: Assigning, Collecting, and Grading Written Work"
- Watch a recording of CITL's workshop on "Assessing Student Learning Online: Assigning, Collecting, and Grading Written Work"
- Lehigh's guide to Promoting Academic Integrity During Remote Learning
- On the Effective Use of Turnitin
- Designing Research Paper Assignments
Last of the First Steps:
- After you have prepared for the start of your first online course session, make sure your Course Site is available (sites are not available by default), then send an Announcement telling students the site is ready and giving them instructions on what they are supposed to do next.
- Announcements are an important way to humanize an online course. Give students regular course-wide feedback about how the class is doing and encourage them to keep up with the work.
- Because it is easy for students to lose track of the things they are expected to do, give your Announcement a clear subject heading (e.g., “Coursework for Thursday, 4/23/2020”) and include a quick checklist for students to follow.
- If you'd like help mapping this into a workflow for yourself, consult these documents:
Sample Course Site Announcement:
Subject: Check-in... and Coursework for Thursday, 4/23/2020
In general, students did well on the Chapter 3 quiz and everyone had thoughtful contributions to the ongoing Forum discussion. Please check your grades and my feedback. Bring any questions on the reading or the quiz to our Zoom Office Hours on Wednesday at 4pm EDT.
Our next class session is now available in Course Site. Be sure to complete all of the following before midnight EDT, Thursday, 4/23/2020:
- Log in for Zoom Office Hours on Wednesday at 4pm EDT.
- Read Simon, Chapter 4
- Watch Lecture 3
- Post a response to the “Week 3 Forum” prompt
- Take Quiz 4
Keep up the good work.
See you Wednesday,
Additional Lehigh Resources
- Getting started with Course Site and most common tasks everyone should know about
- Teaching Online Quick Reference
- Recommended Pedagogy for Online Teaching
- Discussion-based Online Classes - Sample Weekly Workflow for Instructors and Students
- Lecture-style Online Classes - Sample Weekly Workflow for Instructors and Students
- Consider creating an “Introductions” Discussion Forum in which students can post a virtual introduction about themselves. Kick it off with a self introduction and ask specific questions for students to address in their response.
- Remind students that they can set up their own Zoom sessions to hold study sessions, collaborate on homework or projects, etc.
- Remote access to Lehigh-licensed software
- Mapping H: drive access
- Accessing to library resources:
- https://library.lehigh.edu/ (Library website has links to Library Catalog, databases, E-Journals, and other resources)
- Students and Faculty will be using EZproxy to authenticate and access electronic resources off-campus
- Library Instruction and Research Services: Librarians will be able to provide online assistance with research and instruction questions using online chat, zoom, or email.
- G-Suite tools for collaboration
- Lehigh GSuite
- Google hangouts/chat (enable in Gear icon, settings)
Select articles on moving online in emergency situations
- Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start (Chronicle, March 8, 2020)
- So, You Want to Temporarily Teach Online (Inside Higher Education, March 11, 2020)
Prepared by Lehigh's Center for Innovation on Teaching and Learning (Primary author: G. Reihman, posted 3/5/2020, updated 5/22/2020)