Online Teaching Resources 

An integral component of online teaching is regular and substantive interaction (RSI). RSI between instructors and students is required of online courses by the U.S. Department of Education and is crucial to impactful learning. This page provides a definition of RSI and includes a range of strategies. 

Resources and tips for utilizing our learning management system, Desire2Learn (D2L), can be found on the Distance Learning office's D2L Tutorials Page and Brightspace's D2L Essentials Page.

What is Considered Regular and Substantive Interaction?

Per the U.S. Department of Education

Substantive interaction is engaging students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, and also includes at least two of the following:

An institution ensures regular interaction between a student and an instructor or instructors by, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency:

Why is RSI Important? 

In additional to being a requirement of online courses for receiving federal funding, RSI allows for a collaborative, learning focused environment

Regular and Substantive Interaction:  Approaches and Examples 

Communicating with Students Online

It is difficult to overstate the importance of maintaining instructor presence in an online course by communicating with students consistently and often. 

Communicating expectations for the course and the various learning activities, such as expectations for discussion forums or any synchronous sessions, and communicating updates and answering questions are all crucial to providing a structure to keep students connected to the course.

The two primary asynchronous communication tools for all-class communications in an online course are email and announcements in the LMS ( called News in D2L). It's important to recognize some of the purposes for when to use each and to be consistent with how you use them.


First, note that all ECC faculty are issued two email accounts. The Office email is your account that can be accessed by going to

The Academic email account is your ECC gmail account, which will be in the format of The first part of the this email address is your user name (first initial, last name, then the last four-digits of your employee ID number). Faculty are issued a student email address because this address is integrated with the Desire2Learn learning management system.

When students click the icon to email their instructor within D2L, it will be sent to this address. You can access these messages via a link in the Employee Portal at, via, or via a link within D2L for "ECC Student Mail." You may choose to have students use this address to separate your employer communications from your student communications. You may also choose to forward the account to the account. Because students will frequently contact faculty through D2L, it is important to regularly check your account or set it up to automatically forward to your account and check regularly.

Follow these instructions to learn how to set up your Academic email to automatically forward any message received to your Office email so that you only have to check one email account for all messages.

Contact the ECC Information Technology Helpdesk for additional support at 847-214-7979.

Reasons to send a class-wide email rather than post an announcement include

Some suggestions for communicating with students via email include

D2L News/Announcements

The News feature located on the D2L homepage is a way to share announcements to the entire class. Placing important information, such as due dates and an initial course Welcome Message in the News message, is a great way to ensure students see the announcement as there's nothing else to click on to see the message.

Reasons to communicate through a D2L News Item or Google Classroom Announcement rather than an email include

Module Guides

Module Guides are an organization tool within D2L that can aid faculty in deciding how to structure the presentation of information and activities in a lesson and also provide a roadmap for students to follow. Essentially, a Module Guide is a page within a module that states the purpose (learning outcomes) of the course unit or lesson and lists the different learning resources and activities. You can think about a Module Guide as a lesson outline or road map for students to follow. Module Guides can be considered a communication tool as they are a helpful way to articulate the purposes and expectations of lessons and units.

The word "Module" is used since D2L organizes information in the Content section in modules and because D2L offers Module Guide templates for any faculty to use.

D2L offers several Module Guide templates that can be filled out and tailored to your lessons. The various Module Guide templates differ in appearance but include the following areas of information to be included with each course unit.

Faculty interested in using a Module Guide template should reach out to the ECC Distance Learning Office at to gain access to the D2L Module Guide templates.

Alternative to using a Module Guide Template, faculty can create their own Module Guides by including a version of the bolded information above with the "Create a File" option in a D2L module. Place that created file as the top item in a module in the Content section of D2L to give students a clear place to start each module.

In addition to the benefits Module Guides provide by communicating expectations and purpose to students, employing a Module Guide that begins with the Objectives and Outcomes encourages faculty to plan units and lessons using Backwards Design, an instructional design strategy that you can learn more about on the Instructional Design page of this site.

Instructions for Creating D2L Modules

Sharing a Welcome Message prior to the start of the course or in Week 1 to welcome students to the course and discuss expectations can help to begin shaping a positive course community. A Welcome Message could take the form of an email (if longer than one or two paragraphs and if being sent prior to the D2L course opening) or a video or written message posted in News.

Some information to convey in a Welcome Message includes

3. Learn About Your Students' Access to Technology

Within the first week of a course, it is a good idea to learn about your students' access to technology and the internet. Doing so can help you get a sense of what is needed to support your students and how often they'll be accessing course materials . You might solicit this information by asking students to respond to you via email (if doing so, send the email request with students BCCd so that students' responses are not shared with everyone in the class) with questions such as those included below.

The purpose of the questions are to help you to determine how to best support all of the students in your course. Even though students knowingly registered for an online course (as opposed to the Spring 2020 shift to remote teaching), it is not a given that students will be planning to complete work through a computer rather than a cellphone or that they will have internet access on a daily basis.

4. Communicating Instructions

Providing clearly written instructions is something faculty already strive for. When teaching remotely, providing written instructions can become even more important. When writing an overview of a module or instructions for an assignment. Suggestions for writing effective instructions include

5. Additional Advice on Communicating in Online Learning

Communicate Consistently and Communicate Often

To help provide structure in what may still be a new and unfamiliar setting and to help students feel less isolated and uncertain, communicate

Communicate Expectations for Student Participation

Laura Haske Explains Her System of Using Google Tools to Organize Content

Watch Laura Haske, Associate Professor I of Paralegal, explain her system of using Google tools to simplify updating materials to D2L and to make content easier for students to navigate.

Recording Lecture and Presentations Videos 

Recorded lectures or presentations involve the instructor creating a video that captures the instructor's screen while they discuss slides or other course documents. Typically, in addition to the slides or document, the video has an accompanying video box of the instructor discussing the material or an audio recording of the instructor that follows along with the images. The videos are pre-recorded and edited before being uploaded to D2L or YouTube for students to watch at any time.

Possible Technology Platforms

Google Slides and PowerPoint

With both Google Slides and PowerPoint, audio files can be uploaded with each slide by choosing "Insert" and adding an audio recording of you going over each slide. This option means recording a separate audio file for each slide.

Faculty using MacBooks can utilize QuickTime Player to record their screen while narrating through their slides. This captures the full presentation in a single file that includes the slides and audio. That file that can then uploaded to D2L or to YouTube.


Screencast-O-Matic provides a free way to record your screen and webcam for videos of up to 15 minutes. Recording both the webcam screen and your computer screen at once creates a recording in which students can follow along with the slides while also seeing a smaller video of you discussing each slide. The combination of video and screen is one way to help get over the isolation created during a time of remote teaching as students can continue to see your gestures and expressions when going over material.

Uploading Videos to YouTube and Sharing In D2L

Once a video has been created, faculty can upload videos to YouTube and place the videos in D2L for easy access. For instructions on logging into YouTube, uploading videos, and sharing D2L, use these instructions in this Guide for Uploading Videos to YouTube and sharing in D2L.

Suggestions for Organizing and Recording Video Lectures

The article "Everything You Need to Know About Building a Great Screencast Video" provides additional advice on designing and recording screencast video lectures. 

Adding Interaction

Adding interactive components, such as discussion boards that pose questions to respond to the video or embedding quizzes and question (such as demonstrated by Chasity Gunn in the video below), is crucial for engaging students with the video content. 

Chasity Gunn Details Using Nearpod for Interactive Videos

Watch Chasity Gunn, Instructor of English, detail how she utilizes nearpod to make videos interactive, and even involve assessment, for her students.

Marc Hucek Demonstrates How He Uses Explain Everything for Dynamic Content

Watch Marc Hucek, Associate Professor I of Welding, demonstrate how he uses Explain Everything for a variety of features to create well-rounded videos for his students. 

Facilitating Asynchronous Discussions

Facilitating Online Discussions 

Online discussions are a common approach to encourage students to engage with one another and with course material. Typically, within a course module or lesson, a discussion forum will feature open-ended questions regarding interpretation or application of a course concept or of a real world-example, such as a case study. Students are required to respond to the question prompts and  can be asked to respond to a certain number of their classmates' posts.

While online discussions commonly involve written responses, consider allowing students to post video or audio responses as an option as well.

Benefits of online discussion boards include

Discussion Board Platforms

D2L Discussion Forums

Discussion forums on D2L allow for students to engage with content and one another by posting textual, audio, or video responses. When creating a Discussion Topic in D2L, faculty can choose options such as requiring students to post a response before seeing their classmates' responses.

The first step for creating a Discussion in D2L is to create a Discussion Forum. The next step, is to create a Discussion Topic that includes the specific question prompts. See the video below for instructions on creating a Discussion Topic in D2L. 

Instructions for Using D2L Discussion Boards


Flipgrid is a free online platform that focuses on students sharing video posts. It provides a way for students to record and share video responses. A benefit to this is that it can create a stronger sense of classroom community as students see and hear one another. Additionally, students are able to add greater emphasis to their responses than they may be able to do in writing, especially for those much more confident in speaking than in writing.

For a video on how Flipgrid can be used to foster lively and thoughtful discussions and how it's simplified grading online discussions, see the video from Geoffrey Pynn (Philosophy) on the ECC Faculty Videos section of this page. 

Suggestions for Facilitating Discussion Boards

Regardless of the platform used, some guiding principles apply for creating effective discussion prompts and responses.

Think About the Types of Responses That You'd Like Students to Post

Consider Course Schedule and Pacing

Communicate Expectations and Lead by Example

Wrap Up the Forum

One way to help enliven a discussion board and provide some closure is to require one student or a group of students to write a brief, two to three paragraph, summary of the discussion that took place among the class. Rotate the student or students assigned to summarize the discussion and use the summary as a low-stakes grade. When doing this, be sure to first model the type of summary you'd like to see by writing the first discussion wrap up summary.

Best Practices for Creating and Participating in Asynchronous Discussions

Create Discussion Boards for Technical Assistance and Social Interaction As Well

In addition to creating discussion boards within modules that engage students regarding course content, it is very useful to create general course discussion forums dedicated to 

For a discussion forum on technical questions, you do not need to have all of the answers, but it will be helpful to learn what aspects of online learning students consistently struggle with.

For continuing and building class community, a discussion forum titled "Social Space" or something similar can be a helpful strategy to work against the isolation that can exist in online learning.  Like with a "Technical Questions," forum, faculty would not be expected to have all of the answers or respond to every post. The point is instead to provide an opportunity for students to continue community building.

Geoff Pynn Shows How He Uses Flipgrid for Lively Discussions

Watch Geoff Pynn, Assistant Professor II of Philosophy, show how he uses Flipgrid to foster lively and thoughtful discussions and how it's simplified grading online discussions.

Communications from VP of TLSD Regarding Remote Instruction:  Spring 2022- Fall 2022 

An archive of emails sent to faculty from the Vice President of TLSD regarding the shift to remote teaching that began Spring 2020

Past Workshop Materials and Recordings focused on Online Learning

Opening Day Fall 2020 TLSD Meeting 

Designing for Accessibility

Facilitators:  Pietrina Probst (Student Disability Services) and Tammy Ray (Distance Learning & Instructional Support) Maximizing the accessibility of course materials for all students should be a priority of all classes and becomes especially important when content is delivered online. This session will demonstrate practical steps to creating or revising electronic course materials to benefit all learners.
Webinar slides 

Leading Synchronous Online Class Lessons

Facilitators:  Alison Douglas (English) and Colleen Stribling (English as a Second Language) This session will discuss strategies for designing and leading and facilitating synchronous online class sessions. The session will detail strategic approaches that might be used on any online platform and will explore particular features of using Zoom.
Webinar recording available here. 

Preventing Cheating Through Assignment and Grade Design

Facilitators:  Abby Bailey (Math) and Kellen Bolt (English) Maintaining academic integrity can be a major concern in teaching and can be exacerbated in online learning. This workshop will detail approaches to design (or redesigning) assignments and approaches to grading to prevent cheating.
Example Academic Integrity Policy StatementPreventing Cheating Cheat SheetSample Essay Prompt

CETL Summer 2020 Workshops

Creating Engaging Recorded Lectures- July 8

Facilitators:  Chasity Gunn (English); Dan Kernler (Math) 
Recording short lectures is one way to provide instruction in online courses. This synchronous workshop will feature suggestions for design lectures with student engagement in mind and will demonstrate some tools for recording audio or video go along with slides. Whether you are very confident with recording lectures already or are brand new to it, you are invited to participate.  
Webinar recording available here. Note that the recording begins a few minutes into the workshop. 
Webinar Slides. 

Facilitating Asynchronous Active Learning- July 16

Facilitators:  Ryan Kerr (English); Angelika Stachnik (Medical Imaging) 
This synchronous workshop will focus on approaches to creating and facilitating asynchronous online discussions and supporting students in other asynchronous collaborative work. The goal is for all faculty in attendance to leave the session with ideas for facilitating discussion and the knowledge behind the types of discussions to use in different contexts. 
A link to join this online session via Zoom will be sent to everyone registered prior to the session. The session will be recorded and made available to everyone at ECC via the CETL site following the initial date. 
Webinar recording available here. 
Webinar Slides. 

Academic Integrity:  Preventing and Responding to Cheating- July 22 

Facilitators:  Abby Bailey (Math); Kellen Bolt (English); John Long (Student Success & Judicial Affairs); Tyler Roeger (CETL) 
Maintaining academic integrity can be a major concern in teaching and can be exacerbated in online teaching. This synchronous workshop focuses on ways to design or redesign assignments to prevent plagiarism and cheating. By considering the most common reasons that students cheat as well as assignment design rather than monitoring technology, this workshop takes a preventative and holistic approach. We will discuss assignment design approaches for various disciplines with the goal of all faculty leaving with ideas for how to design or redesign their own assignments. 
A link to join this online session via Zoom will be sent to everyone registered prior to the session. The session will be recorded and made available to everyone at ECC via the CETL site following the initial date. 
Webinar recording available here. 
Webinar Slides.

Leading Synchronous Online Lessons- July 29 

Facilitators:  Tyler Roeger (CETL); Colleen Stribling (English as a Second Language) 
This synchronous workshop will discuss strategies for leading and facilitating synchronous class sessions. The session will detail strategic approaches that might be used on any online platform and will detail particular technical features of using Zoom. 
A link to join this online session via Zoom will be sent to everyone registered prior to the session. The session will be recorded and made available to everyone at ECC via the CETL site following the initial date. 
Webinar recording available here. 
Webinar slides. 

ePortfolios as a Teaching Tool- August 5

Facilitators:  Laurie Roberts (Career Services); Tyler Roeger (CETL)
Electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) are an approach to designing and collecting assignments that, among other benefits, encourages student self-reflection and emphasizes employability. This synchronous workshop will explore several of the benefits of using ePortfolios for any discipline or course level and will feature a panel of faculty who will discuss and show their experience with using ePortfolios in their courses and programs. 
A link to join this online session via Zoom will be sent to everyone registered prior to the session. The session will be recorded and made available to everyone at ECC via the CETL site following the initial date. 
Webinar slides.