Now that you’ve revised your module, set new priorities, and informed your students of the changes, it’s time to start teaching online.  How you decide to do this will depend on your comfort with technology, teaching style, and priorities. 

That said, there are some common tasks for anyone teaching online:

Use Canvas

The online learning platform (VLE or Virtual Learning Environment) at UCC is Canvas. Here are some steps you need to take to use Canvas for your teaching:

  • Ensure you can access all of your modules on Canvas as a Teacher.
  • Ensure your students can access of their modules on Canvas as a Student.
  • If you haven’t already done so, take the Online Teaching with Canvas course.
  • Watch our one-hour Canvas training video.
  • Use the 24/7 Canvas Help system accessible through the Help option on your Canvas dashboard. This offers real time just-in-time training that will talk you through anything around which you need help.
  • Keep an eye on All Staff emails about Canvas training sessions.


If you're using Canvas for the first time, we recommend you Keep it Simple - now is not the time to try something complicated. Some suggestions on how to use Canvas are included below:

  • Use asynchronous options as much as you can.
  • Upload lecture notes.
  • Record narration over PowerPoint slides and upload to Canvas.
  • Provide links to external readings or videos.
  • Record lectures through Panopto.
  • Ensure recorded lectures are visible.
  • Use quizzes to allow students to check understanding.
  • Use discussion forums to enable peer-to-peer interaction.
  • Send notifications and emails to students.


Ask for help if you need it. The Canvas Training websites and the online Canvas course with 24/7 support and online guides are all designed to help you through this difficult transition. For more information and suggestions, book a consultation with someone from the Centre for Digital Education.


Distribute Course Materials and Readings

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.

Here are some important things to keep in mind when posting new course materials:

  • Make sure students know when new material is posted: If you post new materials in Canvas, be sure to let students know what you posted and where. You might even ask that they change their Canvas notification preferences to alert them when new materials are posted. Refer them to How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student?
  • Keep things phone friendly: It’s very likely that many of your students will use their phones to access your module online, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats, PDFs being the most common. Consider saving other files (for example, PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets, and keep the file size small. It is fairly easy to reduce the size of PDF files using Adobe Acrobat, and there are online tools that do the same thing (for example, search Google for "PDF file size"). Videos take lots of bandwidth, so only require them if you are confident students will be able to access them and if there is no other way to convey the information.

For specific instructions and guidance about uploading content to Canvas, see the Adding Content section of the Teaching with Canvas module.

For more information and suggestions, book a consultation with someone from the Centre for Digital Education.

Deliver lectures

Depending on your course, you may need to deliver some lectures to keep the course moving along. Be aware, though, that a live lecture sprinkled with questions and activities can become gruelling when delivered online without intellectual breaks.

Here are a few suggestions to improve online lectures:

  • Record in small chunks: To aid student learning, record any lectures in shorter (5-10 minute) chunks, and intersperse them with small activities that give students opportunities to process the new knowledge, make connections to other concepts, apply an idea, or make some notes in response to prompts. An added advantage is that shorter videos lead to smaller files which benefit students reliant their phones or with poor internet connections.
  • Be flexible with live video: Lecturing live with Panopto or Teams is certainly possible, but remember that some students won't have access to fast internet connections, and others may have their schedules disrupted. So, record any live classroom session, and be flexible about how students can attend and participate. (More information on recording video available in the Panopto and Video Recording section of the Teaching with Canvas module). Additionally, you can record short video snippets within Canvas or record directly into PowerPoint.

For more information and suggestions, book a consultation with someone from the Centre for Digital Education.

Promote student engagement and collaboration

Fostering communication among students is important because it allows you to reproduce any collaboration you build into your course, and maintains a sense of community that can help keep students motivated to participate and learn.

Here are some important considerations when designing online activities:

  • Allow for flexibility: Having students participate in live conversations can be useful, but try to do so sparingly as scheduling and technology can limit participation. If at all possible, use Canvas Discussions so students can participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools. Alternatively, you could record short video snippets within Canvas or record directly into PowerPoint.
  • Link to clear goals and outcomes: Make sure that any discussions or collaboration are relevant to the module outcomes, assignments, etc.
  • Consider groupwork: Assignments or activities that encourage students to work together can be incredibly valuable and there are a number of useful tools in Canvas to encourage student collaboration.  Please see the Groupwork section of the Teaching with Canvas module for more information.

For more information and suggestions, book a consultation with someone from the Centre for Digital Education.

Office of the VP for Learning and Teaching

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