Teaching Through Emergencies

Are you prepared to continue teaching your courses in the event of campus closures and other unforeseeable emergencies? After last year's wildfires, USF's Instructional Design team has created a guide on helping faculty move coursework online and support instructional continuity when class sessions are cancelled.

Tips for Moving Coursework Online

The sections listed below are also available in a print-friendly PDF document.

Click on each section to view the information.

Tool: Canvas

Online coursework should be shared with students via Canvas, USF's learning management system. All courses have Canvas course shells set up, with you and your students pre-enrolled.

Access Canvas

Create Audio and Video Lectures

Tool: Record and Upload Media on Canvas

Recording lectures can provide students with helpful context and examples to compliment PowerPoint and other presentations. Create an audio- or video-recorded media on Canvas using the Record/Upload Media function on a course site page.

Note: Canvas file uploads are limited to 500MB (about 20 minutes or less in duration). To avoid maxing out available storage for your Canvas course, consider uploading video files to Google Drive/DonsApps and sharing the link with your students via a Canvas page.

Tool: Record Slideshows Using PowerPoint

You can record PowerPoint presentations using the Record Slideshow function and export it as a video. Once saved, you can share the video with students using a Canvas page.

Tool: Record Lectures Using Zoom

USF provides access to Zoom, a videoconferencing tool, which can be used to record calls. Once a recording is complete, you can share the link with students using a Canvas page.


Enable Student to Student Interaction Using Canvas Discussion Forums

Setting up discussion forums is an excellent way to replicate online the dialogue that typically happens between students in class. Consider moving your in-class discussion questions into discussion forums in Canvas. As an assignment, have students reflect, respond, and then respond to each other’s responses.


Enable Group Work through Zoom and Google Docs

Tool: Zoom Breakout Rooms and Conference Calls

Zoom can be used in the following ways to support online student group work:

  1. As part of an online synchronous class - Instructors can break students participating in a synchronous class into breakout groups using the Breakout Rooms function.
  2. On their own - Students can use their own Zoom accounts to meet with one another in small groups. If using this method, we suggest asking students to screenshot their online session as evidence of the meeting or record the session so you can review and provide feedback.

Tool: Google Docs

As part of an online group work session, students can use Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations to collaborate real-time with one another. Student participation in shared documents can be viewed in the Version History.

It is recommended to use a combination of pages and modules on your Canvas course site to organize and ‘chunk’ related lesson materials in order for students to understand their relationship and find them easily.

Canvas Modules

Modules allow you to easily group a number of online course materials into a single section (e.g. a week or lesson) in Canvas. A module might include a lesson introduction, a discussion forum, an assignment and a quiz.

Canvas Pages

Pages can also be helpful to group course materials - particularly links to other resources - and provide necessary context. For example, you might include a lesson introduction with links to web resources and a video within a Canvas Page.

Send Real-Time Announcements on Canvas

You can communicate with your students through Canvas using Announcements. Announcements sent through Canvas are immediately broadcasted to all of your students via their USF email and/or mobile devices.


Host an Online Synchronous Class Using Zoom

Rather than cancelling class, you can host an online synchronous class session using Zoom. If you are planning to do this, make sure you and your students have Zoom installed and tested prior to your class session. Use this guide to get started with Zoom.  We also recommend establishing some online class etiquette. You can find an example here: Example Netiquette Policy (Google Doc)

Through Zoom, you can share slides, take students’ questions by audio or in a discussion format, see your students’ faces, and record your class session for repeat viewing or for those not able to make the class. Start with these best practices in using Zoom.


Host Online Office Hours Using Zoom

In the absence of hosting face to face offices hours, you can leverage Zoom to host online office hours. Consider hosting your office hours at the same time as usual and provide students with a link to your personal Zoom Room, where they can either pop in at any time during this time or organize a special appointment with you.

At this point in time, USF does not have a policy outlining what coursework constitutes in class versus out of class time. However, you can use the following as a guide:

  • In Class Time - In class time is defined as direct faculty interaction or facilitated learning. Examples of online in class time include: Participating in online discussions; participating in facilitated online group work; short term projects and learning activities; reading instructor’s feedback; listening to audio lectures; viewing lecture video and lecture notes; viewing videos, links to external website and other course materials associate with lectures; completing quizzes and exams.
  • Out of Class Time - Reviewing online course materials; completing writing assignments; completing miscellaneous assignments; studying and preparation time.

Once your students return to campus, consider making time during your next face to face class to discuss the online coursework and answer any questions students might have.

Need Additional Assistance?

There are a number of online course design and instructional technology resources available to you:

If you would like further consultation on the best way to provide content for your students during this time, please contact an Instructional Designer by visiting our request form.

For technical assistance on using Canvas, Zoom, and other learning technologies, please visit the ITS Service Portal or contact Instructional Technology & Training at itt@usfca.edu.