Center for Teaching and Learning

Gertrude C. Ford Center for Teaching and Learning

Dear Faculty,

Thank you for your hard work and dedication during this difficult time. You’ve moved materials into Canvas and started meeting with your students in Zoom. I know this process has been difficult, but know that your work and the work of faculty around the nation saved these students’ and this country’s education.

As you become more comfortable with this delivery, remember to incorporate the three main components of online instruction, even if you’re using it for synchronous meetings:

  • student-content interaction
    • Provide students with a means to engage materials individually.
  • faculty-student interaction
    • Provide students with a means to engage with you directly.
  • student-student interaction
    • Provide students with a means to engage course content with each other.

Also, start organizing your Canvas shells for your students. Improve students’ abilities to find, access, and study course content, including your recorded Zoom meetings.

  • Organize content into modules. Modules are organizational units. They can be a week, a chapter, or a topic, but they group your Zoom meetings, instructions, files, discussions, quizzes, links, or other resources or assignments together. They tell students, “Look at and do these things together in this sequence.”
  • Add dates to the modules’ names so students know when they should access them (e.g., “Neocolonialism: March 30-April 5”).
  • Name the content in your modules in ways that enable students to find what they’re looking for. Yes, that includes your Zoom meetings and recordings. Students need to know which content is the quiz and where to submit work. And note that the word “lecture” doesn’t tell students what’s in the lecture when they’re reviewing for tests or exams.
  • Upload all documents, including PowerPoints, as PDF’s in order to guarantee every student can open them.

Finally, include a structured opportunity for reflection, like a brief practice quiz, in every module. Help students amidst this chaos turn tasks into learning.

For resources to help you with this process, see the Ford CTL online-teaching resources page and the Faculty Resources Portal. And don’t hesitate to contact Kelly Kirkland for technical questions or me for pedagogical questions. We’re here to help.


Gray Kane, Ph.D.

Teaching Tip

To keep students engaged during lecture, integrate think-pair-share activities. Think-pair-share does require facilitation. You will have to ensure everyone has a partner (or small group of 3-4 students, which works well for Zoom breakout groups), as well as actively facilitate the discussion with questions and follow-up questions for less active pairs or groups.


Have students individually answer a question on paper, in Canvas, with Poll Everywhere, or via a classroom response system.


Tell students to convince their neighbors of their answers or otherwise explain their reasoning.


Ask a sample of students to share their answers with the class, with the option of using discrepancies to facilitate discussion or clarify misconceptions.

Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.