Getting Started

Tools to help you adapt your existing teaching and learning goals to an online format.

As you transition to remote teaching we ask that you set realistic expectations for yourself—we are not asking you to perfectly replicate your in-classroom environment. We know that this is impossible. Our basic advice is to keep it simple, and to check in with yourself about your current comfort level with respect to technology. We encourage you to adopt a “triage” mentality in which you focus on the basics and avoid letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. We are hopeful that this experience will provide you with the opportunity to learn tools that you may have otherwise wanted to try, and which may ultimately enrich (rather than replace) your in-class experience in the future.

In addition to the resources available on this website, faculty and departments have been collaborating on a number of innovative and resourceful methods to manage courses online. Carmel Levitan, interim director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, has  a repository of good ideas that may help to spark your thinking about how to address your pedagogical concerns. 

Stay Connected with Your Students

To the extent you are able, maintain a connection with your students and your advisees. Physical distance does not fundamentally alter your relationship with your students. Stay in frequent contact via email or video conference. Be transparent with your decisions that affect the classroom. Involve them in the decision-making to the extent feasible. The faculty-student relationship is a large component of the educational benefit that our students derive from Oxy, and that shouldn’t change because you are separated by distance.

Please do communicate with your students to let them know how you are thinking about structuring your courses for the rest of the semester. This is especially important for courses that are “non-standard” (e.g., labs, studios, etc.). Students are anxious about how they will be able to complete the semester, so hearing that you have a plan moving forward would be most helpful.

Set Up Your Online Sessions for Success

Below are suggestions from the Academic Continuity Execution team for setting up your online classes for success. For additional guidance on any of the information below please reach out to the Academic Continuity Execution (ACE) Training & Support team via You can also join any of our Training & Support Virtual Office Hours to discuss best practices and any of your other teaching, learning and research support needs. Virtual office hours are held 12-1pm Monday-Friday for the month of March. Join a virtual session via BlueJeans.

Create a course home base:​ We ask every faculty member to develop a clear course “home base”, or a consistent and reliable online location for course information, content, and instructions. We recommend the use of Moodle or Google Docs for this purpose.

Do an initial orientation:​ We strongly encourage faculty to hold an initial orientation with their class on how the course will work in the online mode, accompanied by an explicit discussion of norms and behaviors in the online mode. The Academic Continuity Execution team can provide templates and suggestions for how to approach this discussion.

How to hold class:​ Faculty may choose to do this live via Oxy BlueJeans or Google Hangouts Meet, or they may choose to make recordings or other materials (emails, powerpoints, etc.) that the students will view on their own time, following the revised course syllabus.

Assignments:​ Assignments will be turned in electronically. The ACE team has multiple mechanisms to do this, including mechanisms for tests.

Office hours: ​It will be important for faculty to maintain robust office hours through Oxy BlueJeans or similar communications mechanisms. The ACE team can provide guidance on how to set this up.

Q&A / Discussion sections:​ In some courses, you may wish to have online group discussions. We have a number of tools [LINK] to facilitate effective group discussions online, in a large group or in smaller breakout groups.

Group work​: Many courses have group projects. The ACE team can provide suggestions on specific tools and techniques beyond the practices individual student groups may already have in place for their own work.

Labs, studio and performance work​: The ACE team will work with departments to assess if and how we might be able to offer alternate modes for these kinds of curricular activities. For technology needs, please contact the ITS helpdesk.

Remote Teaching: Some Examples of What Is Possible

We list below some possible ways you may adapt to remote instruction for your courses:

  • You may continue to hold lectures at the designated time, with students watching a streaming video of your lecture, either synchronously (in real time, during the regular meeting time slot) or asynchronously (posted online for viewing at any time). This option may be appropriate for lecture-based courses and some lab or production courses.

  • You may hold video-conference sessions, in which all students log in to the video conference simultaneously, and discussion proceeds as if face-to-face. This option may be appropriate for seminar/discussion courses.

  • You may choose to have students read posted materials and then moderate an online discussion in Moodle.

  • You may assign students a research paper or other independent assignment, and hold phone or video conferences with students periodically to guide their work and give feedback

These are only a few suggested approaches to managing instruction in the coming weeks. Our intent is to give you some ideas, but ultimately we want to provide you support to determine the best method for delivering your course content and achieve your learning goals while moving to online instruction.

View our full guidelines of best practices and expectations for teaching online.