Online Teaching Resources

The Online Teaching Resources page is intended to aid faculty in transitioning in-residence class sessions to an online setting. While inclement weather, health concerns, or conference travel can cause faculty to cancel a class session, it is helpful to also plan for a situation in which faculty may be absent or the campus is closed for an elongated period and instruction needs to continue as smoothly as possible.

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, and he HR Professional and Organizational Development Resources for Working from Home provides additional strategies and suggestions.

Communications from VP of TLSD Regarding

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

Communicating with Students Online

Suggestions for virtual communicaition

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.

Tools for Communicating Online

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

  • If you want students to respond to the message, such as if you want solicit student input on an assignment option or due date

  • When you need to write more than one paragraph. Since it's best to keep Announcements short, lengthier messages are better conveyed through email.

Some suggestions for communicating with students via email include

  • State in your syllabus or communicate to students early on how quickly they can expect an email response from you: "I may not respond to an email within the first hour but will respond within 24 hours." An even better suggestion, if you have a scheduled time that you devote to email, is to let students know the time of day that they are mostly likely to receive a response: "You are welcome to email me at any time of day or night, based on what works best for your schedule. If you are hoping for an immediate response, however, note that I check email most frequently between 10am and 1pm."

  • Model for students the email etiquette that you'd like students to maintain. If you want students to always include a greeting (Dear, Hi, First Name), be sure to always include one yourself.

  • Denote important pieces of information, such as assignment due dates or questions that need a response, with clear markers: place such information at the beginning or end of a paragraph rather than burying in the middle; make the text bold; place information in a bullet point.

  • When communicating dates, always include the specific date (Thursday, Sept. 13 or Thursday, 9/13) rather than only writing "Thursday," since you may not know when a student is reading the message.

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

  • If you want the message to be seen multiple times, such as each time a student enters the D2L course until the next announcement is posted

  • If you plan to routinely send a similar message, such as a due date or exam reminder or a weekly overview

  • If you want to communicate the message with a short video or audio recording rather than written text. For instance, recording a course Welcome video rather than sending a Welcome email can be a way to start building a more personal class community and help give students a face that they're communicating with.

Watch the video below to learn how to create an announcement with the News feature in D2L.

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.

  • Overview of the Unit

  • Objectives: What Students will Learn or Be Able to Do Following the Unit

  • Outcomes: The Deliverables that Students Will End the Unit With

  • Learning Resources: The Content (slides, videos, text, audio) That Students Will Engage With

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.

Create a Welcome Message

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

  1. Your name, your preferred gender pronouns (he, him, his, she, her, hers, they, them) and how you'd like students to address you (Professor, Dr. Mr. Mrs. First Name, etc.).

  2. Your enthusiasm for the course: a favorite topic you're looking forward to discussing or a favorite assignment that you're anticipating.

  3. The best method and times for students to contact you.

  4. What the first step should be for students once the course begins. Is there a place on D2L that they should navigate to first? A syllabus or other document to start with?

  5. Contact information for students to receive technical support (

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.

  1. Do you have daily access to a computer with internet at home?

  2. Do you have daily access to a smartphone with internet access?

  3. What type of device (computer, phone, tablet) do you plan to use for regularly accessing course materials?

  4. What type of device (computer, phone, tablet) do you plan to use for regularly completing assignments?

  5. Do you have regular access to a smartphone with internet access and the ability to participate in a video chat?

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

  • State the purpose and objectives near the beginning.

  • Explain how and when students will be assessed.

  • Set definite expectations for quantity and quality of work to be completed.

  • Separate steps with numbers or distinct paragraphs.

  • Use transition words like “Next,” “After,” to show the sequencing of work to be done.

  • When uploading instructions or assignments as a separate document, consider how accessible the document design and format is for students by consulting the Accessibility and Accommodations page.

  • Provide links to support resources.

  • Make explicit what students should do if they have questions: contact the instructor? Consult a particular resource?

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

  • Consistently: Try to use the same tool for communication as much as possible, such as relying primarily on all-class emails, the News feature of D2L, or posting your own regular video updates uploaded to YouTube.

  • Often: Provide communications and updates to the class by the same means and at a consistent time, such as at the beginning and end of each week.

Communicate Expectations for Student Participation

  • Let students know your communication strategy (where they should look for important course information).

  • Regardless of whether or not you are planning to teach asynchronously or to hold a virtual class, let students know when and how often you expect them to access the online platform you’re using. How many times a week should students to be check their email and the LMS? How many hours a week should students plan to spend doing work for the course?

  • Let students know how quickly they can expect you to respond to individual communications.

  • Communicate any changes in assignment deadlines or delivery methods and make sure that those changes are listed in a central location, such as site homepage, rather than only in a single email.

  • Similar to in-residence teaching, create and communicate clear expectations for what is effective participation in activities like online discussions, remote group work, or other activities.

NOTE: Expect that students will continue to have disruptions in their work and family lives that may impact class participation. Be prepared for flexibility to support students who are finding solutions to transportation, technology, illness, childcare and family care, and are still trying to succeed in a course environment that may be brand new to them.

Recording Lectures and Presentations

Technology information and suggestions for recording content


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.


While there are benefits to hosting virtual classes so that the class can engage in real time, recording lectures and presentations is an option for providing more edited and scripted content. The fact that the videos can be available to watch at any time is especially helpful for students who don’t have continual access to the technology necessary to participate during the regular class time.

Additionally, pre-recording content rather than hosting live discussions of brand new content allows the instructor to write a clear script of what is to be covered and control the pacing.

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

  • Draft an outline or full script before recording and stick to it. This can help keep your focus, avoid unwanted verbal tics, and also can be shared with students before or after posting the presentation to allow for great accessibility.

  • In the video, create continuity in the course by explicitly referring to previous content in the course such as previous lessons, assignments, or other student contributions, and also provide previews for later lessons: "This is similar to our class's first assignment in which you..."

  • Provide structured opportunities for students to engage and apply the content of the recordings. Include in the module requirement to participate in a class blog, discussion, or virtual group activity tied to the recording. Direct students to such assignments in both the recorded lecture and in a News item or other written instructions.

  • Try to keep any recordings 15 minutes or less to maintain students’ attention. You might have a recording that directs students to complete an assignment or participate in a discussion before moving on to the next recording or segment.

  • Rather than including slides with only text, try to include a combination of slides with text, links to videos (keep the videos short and no more than 2-3 video links per lesson), audio recordings, and graphics.

  • A benefit of uploading videos to YouTube is that faculty can take advantage of YouTube's automatic close captioning feature. By creating captions and then manually editing the auto-generated captions, faculty make the materials more accessible to students who are hearing impaired as well as those who don't have the option to view materials with the sound on. Additionally, editing the captions is a helpful device for instructors to learn about their own pacing and enunciation in delivery. For more information on creating accessible videos, consult page 29 of the Content Accessibility Resource Guide.

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

Making Video Lectures Engaging

For two videos in which ECC faculty discuss the technology platforms that they use to make their videos dynamic, see Chasity Gunn from English and Marc Hucek for Helding's videos on the ECC Faculty Videos section of this page.

Facilitating Asynchronous Discussion

Tips for creating online discussions

Facilitating Online Discussions on Discussion Boards


Online discussions are a common way 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

  • Provides a low stakes way to assess student learning

  • Creates an asynchronous space for students to interact with the instructor and with one another regarding material

  • Responses can be a way for students to generate ideas for larger assignments

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.


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

  • First, make sure that a discussion board is actually what you want. Discussions are best suited for relatively short responses. Discussion boards work best when discussion posts are no more than two to three paragraphs in length and when responses are kept to one paragraph. If you would like students to post responses longer than three paragraphs, consider instead creating a Google Doc for students to contribute to. This wouldn't allow for as much back and forth discussion but is a good option for compiling several long posts into a single space, like a wiki.

  • Asks questions that you care about and are generally interested in seeing the answer to. That may seem obvious, but expect that you’ll be reading all of the posts. Do yourself a favor so that you can maintain your own engagement.

  • Avoid prompt questions with single answers. Ask questions that require interpretation, evidence for support, and application.

  • Consider giving students options for the medium they'd like to use to post their response: written posts, audio or video recordings, or images of diagrams or drawings, even.

Consider Course Schedule and Pacing

  • Experts suggest including no more than two to three short answer discussion questions per week in a course. For weeks in which a major assignment is due, forego having required discussion questions and instead create a discussion forum for students to post questions and receive support on the assignment (147).

  • When setting up deadlines for posts and responses, stagger the due dates between the initial post and the responses so that students have a few days between first posting and responding to their classmates.

Communicate Expectations and Lead by Example

  • Communicate clear expectations:

    • number and length of posts and replies;

    • whether you are asking students to include their own discussion questions or only responses

    • whether students should use textual examples, and if so, how many per post.

  • Provide examples of effective posts and model the type of communication you’d like to see when you make a post yourself.

  • Clarify your role in the discussion: will you be responding to each post?

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.

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 1) students asking technical questions 2) providing a place for students to interact on non-course related topics.

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.

ECC Faculty Videos

The below videos were created by ECC faculty to show teaching approaches, using technology, that they've had success with

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.