March 18 Update for Instructors

Posted: March 18, 9:00 a.m.

Updated: March 18, 2:45 p.m. - Exam information

Dear colleagues

We have made it through our first day of full remote instruction! Thank you to everyone for your efforts in making this transition under challenging timelines and conditions. Your commitment demonstrates our community’s flexibility, ingenuity and resourcefulness.

We want to provide an update after Day 1 with important wins and learnings that can assist in ensuring the best experience for yourselves and your students.


Thank you to our colleagues who have already begun to build student accommodation supports into their on-line courses. For students with pre-existing accommodations, having these supports in place in the on-line format will be a key factor in their continuing academic success.  More information about accommodations can be shared directly with instructors via ClockWork.

USRIs Suspended for Winter 2020

The Universal Student Ratings of Instruction have been suspended for Winter 2020.  This decision was made by the GFC Executive Committee to ensure that we are making the best use of our academic and administrative resources in these extraordinary circumstances.

Update on eClass instances

86% of Winter Term classes now have eClass instances. Click here if you still need to set your course up in eClass.

Exams Update coming at the end of this week

Updated: March 18, 2:42 p.m.

Discussions are underway to ensure that we have mitigated the broad-ranging impacts of possible changes to the Winter 2020 exam period. In order to allow sufficient time to hold these conversations, a status update on the plans for Winter 2020 exams will be at the end of this week.


Key Learnings and New Resources From Day 1

Communicate early and often through eClass

Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and proactively answer common questions. Let students know about changes or disruptions as early as possible, even if all the details aren't in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information.

Use the recommended technology
  • Please ensure that you have set up an instance of eClass. 
    • At minimum, please use your eClass instance to communicate to students about your selected method of remote delivery. This approach will ensure students have a consistent single source of information for all of the courses they are taking
  • Put your materials, especially large files, on your google drive and provide a link in eClass, do not upload large files directly to eClass.
  • Important: Use Zoom for synchronous delivery of your course content or meetings with your class. Do not use Adobe Connect as we are hitting connection limitations on this application and we can not guarantee a stable session.  
You may need to delete your personal account from Zoom in order to use the UAlberta Zoom account integrated with eClass
Use the Recommended Tools

Tools for synchronous teaching

Courses where instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students)

  • Zoom is now available and integrated into eClass
  • The advantage of Zoom (over Google Meet) is that it has the ability to have breakout rooms and other features such as polling and annotations.
  • If using Zoom, open the participants panel and chat in every room you enter. Ensure you remind students to open chat as well, but if you have large groups, put them on mute while you are presenting. 
  • If you want students to watch a video through external sites, such as YouTube, provide them the link and have them watch it outside of eClass/Zoom.
  • You can use slides and screen sharing within Zoom or Google Meet
  • Rethink your classroom activities and try simple ways to make the class more interactive e.g.have students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc. 

Tools for asynchronous teaching

Instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

  • Make short “micro lectures”, they should be concise and clear (and not the only source of learning). Some suggestions when recording (micro)lectures:
    • You can record your lectures using Google Meet and automatically save these to your Google Drive or record using Zoom and save to the cloud
    • A new feature, Stream2, allows instructors to record their microlecture and automatically post this on eClass
    • Try to keep videos to a maximum of 10 - 15 minute videos as uploading large videos can take quite a long time and even crash web browsers.

Resources Available for More Assistance

eClass Resources

If you are looking for help regarding the logistics of how to use any feature of eClass, please consult eClass 101

For technical assistance in using eClass or the related tools, please contact eClass support at 780-492-9372 or by email at If you do contact eClass, please be patient as our support load is greater than normal.

eClass will have extended office hours this week: 

  • Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Resources

If you have questions regarding adapting your current teaching strategies to an online format, please contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). 

CTL staff have virtual office hours all week to answer instructor’s pedagogical questions. Connect to CTL virtual office hours via Zoom from 8.30 am to 4:30 pm.

Attend an upcoming CTL webinar on topics such as using Zoom, designing online exams, and create a remote teaching and learning community (on CTL events page).

Find more resources on the CTL website including:

Check the CTL website for regularly updated information and schedules.

Library Services and Resources

Information about library services and resources will be kept up to date on the COVID-19 Library Services updates page.  Our electronic resources, librarians and reference help are all available. We are here for you!