Continuing Academic Activity during Disruption-for Faculty

To ensure academic continuity at Colorado Mesa University, classes may need to be moved online. The following recommendations should serve as guidelines to continue instruction and minimize student confusion. All faculty should be prepared to utilize D2L and alternate methods of delivery of course material. 

Communication is the primary consideration when moving a course to an online environment. Your communication with students will need to be carefully thought out and clear in order to manage this transition. Plan on having to communicate with students in multiple ways and with repeated messaging.
  1. Poll or discuss with students: Do you have reliable access to the internet off-campusWhat type of device(s), such as laptop, desktop, and/or smartphonedo you use? Do you have a functioning webcam and video capabilities? 
  2. Consider syllabus/schedule amendments for course disruptions; coordinate with the department as needed. The change in modality often requires changes in approaches to content delivery, assignments, and assessments.
  3. Consider how participation, assessments, due dates, etc. will be affected for some students if their off-campus technology or internet access is not adequate or non-existent. 
  4. Maintain communication with students and deliver course(s) through available technologies. Courses may be taught synchronously at the same time as normally scheduled or asynchronously. 
  5. Please be flexible with student issues around deadlines, testing, and access.
  6. As needed, direct students to campus resources available online, such as the Library databases and Tutorial Learning Center and Writing Center.
  7. Consider the accessibility of online course content, activities, and assessments, and if needed, communicate with Educational Access Services (EAS) regarding accommodations needed for online aspects of courses. 
  1. Check out IT’s Get Started: Faculty/Staff and review recommended minimum technology for online courses.  
  2. Update both Firefox and Chrome internet browsers to the latest version. Safari is not supported.
  3. Ensure access to MAVzone, including Outlook email, D2L, Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, etc.) on and off-campus. 
  4. For devices being used off-campus, be sure to log in to MAVzone and install Microsoft Office suite from Office 365:
    • Log in to MAVzone.
    • Select Applications in the Navigation bar.
    • From the applications list, launch Office 365.
    • Click on Install Office to access the respective installation page for your device and follow the prompts.
  5.  If using a mobile device, you may download these mobile apps: 
    • Microsoft Office 365
    • Pulse (D2L)
    • Grader (D2L)
    • Panopto
    • Voice Thread
    • Zoom
  6. Run System Check in D2L on computer/device on and off-campus. 
  7. Post syllabus and gradebook in D2L. 
  8. Check out Distance Ed’s CMU Brightspace Resources and PDF and video guides for D2L, Online Course Design, and other tools. 
  9. Register for D2L Refresher course as needed.  
  10. If planning to use video on or off-campus, test webcammic, and speakers. We recommend using a headset for sound quality in web conferencing applications, such as Zoom and MS Teams.
  11. Check D2L Classlist and Class Progress to see if/when users access D2L course shell and track participation and completion. 
  12. Seek support as needed, and submit support requests via Help Desk tickets or contact Distance Education. 

Use these tips to continue instruction and facilitate student engagementDecide if asynchronous, synchronous, or a combo delivery method will work best for your course material. Tool guides are provided via the hyperlinks in the following tips.

Communicating with Students

Within D2L, the best option for communicating with your entire class will be the Course News Tool. This tool will create an announcement that will be visible on the landing page of your course for the entire classlist.   

Posting Content for Students  

Online coursework can be shared with students via D2L. All CMU courses have D2L course shells that can be accessed through the D2L application in MAVzone. Use the D2L Content tool to post and organize course content (documents, images, media files, presentations, URL links, editable HTML files, and existing course activities). Consider accessibility and/or accommodations, and consult with DE staff and EAS as needed.

Asynchronous Delivery: Pre-recorded Lecture Materials 

Recorded lectures can provide students with helpful context and examples to compliment PowerPoint and other presentations. Panopto is an easy-to-use tool for lecture capture or recording content. You can record your computer screen and/or video from a webcam and recordings are automatically uploaded to the Panopto server, where they can be easily shared with your students. (Most students who have completed ESSL200 have used Panopto for viewing and recording videos, so many of your students will already be familiar with the tool.)

You can also use the VoiceThread video tool. VoiceThread also allows for video discussions and commenting on videos. This tool has the option of using the VoiceThread Mobile App for creating content.

Synchronous Delivery: Class Sessions and Virtual Office Hours 

Zoom may be used for virtual office hours, tutoring, group projects, or synchronous class sessions. Zoom is best for recording synchronous sessions when all participants are on a computer or mobile app. Features include document and desktop sharing. Recordings of meetings are downloadable. 

Be sure to post virtual office hours. 

Using Discussion Boards 

Promote conversation and collaboration in the online environment through the use of D2L Discussion boards. Discussion topics can be designed around specific prompts or provide a space for general course questions. Expectations for discussion posts (length, number of replies, etc.) should be clearly communicated to students.  

The Discussions tool is also a useful way to manage your class via the “Ask the Instructor” discussion board. This discussion board is embedded in all course shells within the “Start Here” module. This forum is a great way for students to “raise their hand” within the online environment. Questions asked in this forum are visible to the entire class. It is best practice to remind students of the public nature of this forum before they post private information here. (This forum is hidden and must be enabled by the instructor.) 

Facilitating Quizzes and Exams 

The D2L Quiz tool provides an easy and efficient way to administer quizzes and tests online. Instructors can specify start and end dates and set timing limits for individual quizzes. Many question types (multiple-choice, true/false, etc.) can be set for automatic grading, other question types (short answer, etc.) can be set and graded manually.  

Proctored exams are not available so instructors have multiple options. The easiest option is assuming that all exams are take-home exams. In this scenario, instructors calibrate the level of analysis and knowledge that the student must provide to an understanding that the student will have access to their notes and possibly others. A second option is to replace exams or quizzes with writing assignments or projects. Finally, in cases where proctored exams are required for accreditation or other licensure requirements, you might consider providing students a proctoring form that must be signed by an unrelated third party such as a police officer, teacher, clergy, or another ethically responsible party.

Assignment Submission 

To have students upload and submit assignments, instructors can set up Assignment Submission folders in D2L. Instructors can view and download student submissions, check for plagiarism (via Turnitin), return submissions with grades and feedback, and restrict access to folders by date and time. It is important that instructors clearly and repeatedly communicate changes in due dates, assignment expectations, and methods of delivering feedback. Feedback in the online environment is even more essential than face to face as students won't have the ability to read your non-verbal communication about their work.

Quantifying online learning contact hours  

If your class is 50 minutes and you teach in the traditional styledelivering a lecture followed by questions, discussion and wrap up; then the easiest way to replicate this in the online environment is through the following scenario: 

  • 25-30 minute lecture (recommend breaking this into smaller 7-10 minute videos) 
  • Discussion board requiring an initial post of 250 words and then 2 responses to peers of 150 words 
This scenario will generate 1 hour “Carnegie Hour” of online seat time.   

References to the equations used to determine seat time in the online environment can be found in Quantifying Online Learning Contact Hours. 

An easy to use Seat Time Calculator can be used to determine the equivalency of your online teaching plan.  

Keep in mind, if you choose a synchronous option, such as a Zoom meeting, you will not have to worry about equivalency if you meet for your normal time and duration. 

Publisher Materials 

If your students are already using direct digital textbooks or publisher courseware online, do you plan to utilize additional resources, such as publisher activities or quizzes? Do your students already have access to these via D2L, and do they know how to find and interact with them? Check with your publisher for support as needed, and remember to post getting started guides and publisher technical support contact information for your students. 


The Office of Distance Education has compiled a list of faculty who teach online on a regular basis.  Please use this list to find peers who are already comfortable with the online environment and the use of common tools.


Faculty with Significant D2L Experience

Inclusive Approaches to Support Student Assignments During Times of Disruption from the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning at Brown University

Getting Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start from The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 9, 2020)

Academic Continuity Planning Checklist from Clemson University

Keep Teaching during Prolonged Campus or Building Closures from Indiana University

QM Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist for Higher Education from Quality Matters