Important: Review the COVID-19 Communications and Planning Resources (2021)
To be well-prepared and informed, we encourage you to review and bookmark the Academic Affairs Division-Wide Communications page on the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost website. These communications provide essential information (e.g., syllabus statements, protocols, policy updates, etc.) for you, your students, and colleagues.
These syllabus statements communicate a consistent message to all students.
1. Use Canvas
Canvas is the primary learning management system (LMS) at the university. It gives you the ability to quickly share course materials, provide easy-to-use tools to communicate and collaborate with students, co-instructors, and Teaching Assistants (TAs).
Ensure successful participation in your course(s) by using this guide whether you are using Canvas for the first time or locating a course.
A simple ISU Course Template in Canvas and a straightforward process aid instructors in the must-have elements.
2. Communicate with your students
You need to communicate with your students promptly, even if you do not have a full semester plan in place. Inform them what your expectations are for checking email or Canvas (ISU’s learning management system).
One-on-one communications between students and their instructors and/or advisers can be particularly challenging in a virtual environment. It is imperative that Instructors follow all Federal Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) guidance on the Registrar’s Policies website.
In particular, review and bookmark the Sharing Sensitive Student Info-FERPA page. This page outlines which software may be used to communicate private information.
3. Deliver course content
Instruct your students about how and when you will deliver course content along with hosting meetings, holding their office “student” hours, and more.
Students may not have ready Internet access. Consider the best way to communicate information to students and the best ways for them to interact with course content.
Examples of In-Person Class Sessions Transformed to Online
Tool and Description
Tool, Descriptions, & Support
Outlook or CyMail email
Canvas Announcements or Inbox
Choose one form of communication, and communicate weekly with students. This communication can include an update or feedback on assignments.
When sharing grades and other sensitive student information, follow guidance from the Registrar’s Sharing Sensitive Student Info-FERPA page.
Record short lectures.
Embed discipline-specific videos from YouTube or existing video streaming resources.
PowerPoint slides with notes coupled with low-stakes quizzes.
Asynchronous (not at the same time) short videos are best for delivering complex material or setting the stage for active learning.
Ensure you watch the entirety of the YouTube or other video to ensure the correct information is presented.
Short lectures can also be posted in the form of PowerPoint slides with notes or PowerPoint file and a PDF of notes in the document. To ensure accountability, couple the PowerPoint with low-stake quizzes or student reflections.
Canvas Assignments and Quizzes
Transfer in-class assignments to virtual assignments. This can include a file upload, problem set, student reflection, or quiz.
Webex for live collaboration, G-Suite or CyBox for document collaboration, Canvas Collaborations, One Note is part of MS Office 360 available to all students and faculty.
Assign different problems to groups to examine and come up with solutions.
Have the group create and post a presentation/video/chart/infographic in the course’s discussion area. Other groups could share their thoughts, questions and opinions.
Canvas Assignments and Quizzes
LockDown Browser locks down the testing environment within Canvas
Respondus Monitor supplements the LockDown Browser with a fully automated process that uses student webcams.
Written scripts of presentation
Ask students to record their presentation using a cell phone or their computer to upload to Canvas.
A lower-tech option is to ask students to submit a written script of their presentation to assess content knowledge and other skills like persuasive thinking.
4. Plan for collecting assignments/submissions
You will likely need to provide additional course materials to support your changing plans, from updated schedules to readings that allow you to shift more instruction online. In a pinch, providing some new readings and related assignments may be your best bet for keeping the intellectual momentum of the course moving.
5. Activities, Assessments, Quizzes, and More
You have many options for online activities, assignments, and assessments (quizzes).
6. Grading in Canvas
The Grades function within Canvas allows you to maintain all of your grades online. It provides a robust tool for tasks typically done in a spreadsheet application, making it possible to keep all grading online.
The fantastic part? You can submit your midterm and end of term grades through the ISU Admin Tools in Canvas.
Providing multiple ways for students to gain knowledge, demonstrate knowledge, and interact goes a long way toward making a course accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Shifting courses online is an opportunity to build in accessibility from the beginning.
To find out how best to help our students with disabilities during a disruption, review ISU’s Student Accessibility Service’s Message Regarding COVID-19 page.
Below are essential resources to get started, and recent posts.
9. Promote a sense of belonging
Designing for equity and inclusion means being particularly proactive about supporting students in a conducive learning environment.
Suggestions and resources to help teach in ways that are equitable and inclusive in an online environment.
Create a compelling, engaging, and enjoyable online learning environment for your students.
10. Additional essential resources
ISU Library Digital Content
The ISU Library makes it possible for faculty teaching remote classes to connect seamlessly through direct engagement with library staff, access to digital content, and collaboration across the University.
- Discipline-Specific Resources: Populate your course with discipline-specific resources and databases, enable a chat with subject librarians and use discipline-specific FAQs.
- To begin use the ISU Library’s Step-by-step instructions web guide.
- Streaming Media: Explore ISU’s streaming media collections of documentaries, news programs and news clips, instructional material, and selected feature films on many subjects.
- To determine the best options for your course, use the Ask a Librarian page.
For assistance with digital course material needs, conversion from print to digital, or additional support with the RedShelf platform or publisher content during the Spring 2020 online instruction period, contact Iowa State University Book Store team via:
Read the most up-to-date information about publishers, access, and more on the Digital Course Materials ISU Book Store webpage.
This CELT Course Continuity (Students) page is a derivative of the following pages: