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Online Teaching & Learning Guide: Get Started

Get Started

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Getting started

Not sure what to do first? Here are our recommendations for getting started:

Email your students.

Using Canvas or your MyMadison roster, email your students to let them know you may be working on how to move course delivery online. Timely initial communication will help reduce uncertainty and begin to cultivate the sense of connection that is critical to successful remote teaching. Don’t worry about having all the answers in your initial communication. Instead, let students know when they can expect to hear more information from you about how the course will unfold. Share any resources that you know you will be using.

Ask whether your students have the technology they need to participate in your online course.

Many students will be accessing the internet via their cell phones and/or via slower internet connections. Please keep this accessibility issue in mind. 

Please refer students without internet access to our "Get Started" page for students, which lists several options for gaining internet access.

Consider and share new policies.

  • How will assignments and expectations change?
  • How will you define attendance and participation?
  • How often should students expect to hear from you? 
  • How often do you expect students to communicate with you?
  • Where can materials (slides, handouts, notes, assignments) for classes be found?

Prioritize essential course activities.

Keep class activities and students focused on making progress on essential learning objectives. Focus on course activities that align with learning objectives even if the activity format needs to change to accommodate remote teaching.

Use asynchronous delivery.

When possible, use asynchronous and low-tech course delivery options to make content more accessible and better accommodating to students experiencing disruption. Consider Canvas discussion boards and other remote forms of interactivity to foster peer learning. 

Build or augment your Canvas site with content, assignments, and quizzes/exams.

Your Canvas site will likely be the central hub for remote teaching. Make sure files and submission pathways are easily accessible to students. You can create assignments and quizzes/exams with Canvas. Learn more about using Canvas via short video tutorials from LinkedIn Learning (JMU eID required).

JMU Libraries is here to help you.

We have created this site to provide in-depth information on services, support, and guides that can help you move course content online and enable students' continued learning. We offer information on: 


This work, by Juhong Christie Liu, Kristen Shuyler, Aaron Noland, Eric Stauffer, Emily Blake, Ryan Winfree, and other JMU Libraries contributors, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Itis based on the "Flu-Proofing Teaching Resources" site co-developed by JMU Libraries and CFI, and draws from advice about remote teaching from other institutions.