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Adapting steps

In a lecture-based class, the instructor will typically prepare lecture slides and a handful of check-in activities with students to ensure that everyone is making sense of the content. After class, students may have practice sets or other homework to complete. Students in larger classes may also have the opportunity to attend office hours with a TA to ask questions and go over challenging material.

How would this class format work online? Consider this possible model as a place to start:

Step 1: Create a module

Create a module to contain all the reading, videos and activities for that class meeting. Make sure to name the module in a way that its contents are easily recognizable to students. Outline clearly for students the specific steps they will need to complete the activities in the class meeting. What will they need to watch? Read? Complete? Submit? Discuss? etc. and if the order of the activities is important, make sure that is clearly articulated.

Step 2: Build your video lectures

Build your video lectures using one of the lecture recording tools available at UM such as Panopto or Voicethread. Add those lectures to your Canvas module. Keep the following tips in mind as you build your video lectures.

  • Keep your lecture short (no longer than 10 minutes). It is OK to have multiple videos for one lecture.
  • Watch and listen to your first video to make sure that images and audio are clear and easy to see and understand.
  • If you are in the recording, find a location that is well-lit. However, you do not want the primary light source to be behind you.
  • Use a headset or earbuds, or a stand-alone microphone, to increase sound quality. Although many newer computer systems have adequate microphones built into them, your audio will be even better if you use a headset or microphone.
  • Some instructors draft scripts before recording. If you do draft a script, consider posting it to Canvas as supplemental material for students. This also helps with accessibility.
  • Generally, students don’t mind if the production values aren’t perfect! If you occasionally say “um” or repeat a word, don’t feel you need to re-record. After all, that happens in traditional face-to-face lectures as well.

Step 3: Create quizzes as comprehension checks

Create quizzes as comprehension checks. If there are typically independent homework assignments after the lecture, giving students a way to check in and make sure that they are progressing on the homework can be useful.

  • Create low-stakes comprehension checks in the form of quizzes to ensure that your students are getting what they need from the homework assignment.
  • For this type of quiz, err on the side of shorter and lower stakes. This is not a test of student knowledge, just a check-in letting the instructor and student see progress.

 Pro tip: let students take the quiz multiple times—this practice encourages them to go back to the reading to learn any material that they didn't understand. Often textbook publishers have these questions ready for you to import into your course as test bank questions. These questions make excellent low-stakes quiz questions.

Step 4: Create a "General Questions" discussion forum

Create a "General Course Questions" discussion board forum to provide a place for you to answer questions once and for students to learn from each other.  Encourage students to use the "General Course Questions" discussion board rather than email the instructor.

Step 5: Set up a Zoom room

Set up a Zoom room for office hours, TA sessions or other supplemental instructional sessions to answer students' questions. Alternatively, you can also create a discussion forum called "Frequently Asked Questions" to provide a space for students to learn from each other.

Website to be retired

The Keep Learning website will be retired on January 31, 2022. Please update all of your bookmarks and links to point to our new website,

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