The Most Common Questions for Teaching Online

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This is Part Two in the Centre for Teaching and Learning's four-part series, Teaching Online.Teaching Online.

The widespread shift to remote delivery has represented a Herculean effort across the University of Alberta's campuses. Since we began moving courses online in March, our team at the Centre for Teaching and Learning has been collating some of the most common questions we've received about teaching online. We've all been inundated by written communication over the past weeks, so we opted for short videos to help address some of these queries.

Here are the most common questions we get about teaching online:

How do I engage students effectively online?

One of the most-asked questions we get is: how do we ensure that students are engaged in their online courses? We feel it's also important to ask: what could student engagement look like online? A well-developed online course structure can not only support student engagement, but empower students to take control of their own learning. Often, this requires more than simply emulating a face-to-face course online. Limit synchronous teaching and learning - and making the most of asynchronous teaching and learning - can be critical to building student engagement.

What are the alternatives to online mid-term/final exams?

How can I assess student learning? This is a common question in both face-to-face and online learning environments, but has really come to the fore in the last seven weeks. With the urgency to move courses online and limited time for changing our assessment practices, many faculty and instructors have wanted to assess students' knowledge in ways other than multiple choice exams and quizzes. Formative and summative assessment practices - such as student blogs, website creation, posters, videos, and discussion forums - can offer good alternatives.

How do I set-up eClass for the best online learning experience?

Ideally, your eClass course site should support both your teaching and students' learning - using discussion forums, quizzes, peer feedback, workshop activities, and gradebooks can help to achieve this. Marking directly within eClass can also help to save time.

Additionally, an updated feature is coming eClass on May 4, 2020 which allows both students and professors or instructors to track students' completion of course tasks and assignments.

Our Top 5 Takeaways:

  1. Break lecture videos into 15 minute segments (or thereabouts);
  2. Go beyond simply adding knowledge to your online course by creating opportunities for students to showcase what they've learned;
  3. Create quizzes with support built in;
  4. Assess students using blogs, website creation, posters, videos, and discussion forums;
  5. Use eClass to your advantage - gradebook and the course task completion tool can be significant time-savers.

For more support with taking your course online, please contact or enrol in the self-paced Teaching and Learning Online course.

Graeme PateGraeme Pate is an Educational Developer with the CTL. He supports staff who wish to use technology to enhance their teaching and learning, and who want to become more confident using technology in their teaching.

Jennifer WardJennifer Ward is a PhD Student in Indigenous Studies and an Educational Developer with the CTL. Her work focuses on helping educators bring Indigenous worldviews into their practice and their classrooms

Josh Westlake Josh Westlake is the eClass Specialist for CTL. With a background in assessment, LMS support, and media development, he offers support through consultations and workshops related to eClass.

CTL's Teaching Online Series: