Tools And Resources For Creating Engaging Virtual Learning Experiences

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Focus on the Essentials

What are the major outcomes and priorities for your course? What is essential for your students to learn? Stay focused on these and you will help your students succeed through this time.

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Going Virtual Videos

These 10 brief informative videos provide insights for instructors who want to better engage their students in the virtual environment. Chat with Molly if you need help downloading them onto your institution's website.


Blog Posts


Virtual Learning Checklist


Communicate Often

Stay in touch with your students to let them know what to expect.

Getting Started:

Communication at this time is important. Keep your students apprised of how the class will be conducted going forward.

  1. Let students know how you plan to handle each week or session of instruction, specifying what will remain the same and what will change. 

  2. Keep communication to the point and contact students frequently, but not so much that they are overwhelmed with messages and information. 

  3. If replies to students' questions are applicable to all, respond to the entire class via course email, announcements, etc. 


Get Organized

Start with syllabus and learning outcomes.

Getting Started:

As you review your syllabus and learning outcomes, think about what expectations and content will change in the virtual environment.


If the shift to virtual instruction in this disruptive environment means that your students can't accomplish all of what you expected them to, focus only on the essentials -- the items that will allow them to achieve the course learning outcomes.


Guide your students by letting them know what to expect. Also, there is no need to try to convert all of your course to the online delivery mode all at once.


Be kind to yourself and go one week or session of instruction at a time. This will allow you to adjust your teaching as you and your students get more comfortable with the new modality.


A brief refresher from University of Wisconsin Madison

Created for SkillsCommon at Tyler Junior College, this is a clear, concise introductory course for those instructors who feel the need to be more educated on going online.


Plan for Students with Limited Online Access

Check with your students to make sure they are able to connect.

Getting Started:

Check with your students to make sure they are able to participate in an online course. If they are not, what are their options? Check with your institution to find out how these students can be accommodated.


Be willling to be flexible with these students so that they can participate in and complete the course successfuly.


Share this with your students to self-assess the readiness of their environment for online learning


Convert Your Content

Gather and prepare materials.

Getting Started:

Gather all of your course content and other relevant material to use as a reference when delivering your class content online.


You may choose to meet online with your students to deliver class sessions synchronously.  Or, you can use the video recording feature (or any other program with which you are familiar) to record yourself.  As you record, keep in mind the research that has shown student attention to videos lasts about 6 minutes.


Post the recordings on the appropriate space in your online course (see below).  Then,  alert your students via email or course announcements, being sure to include reference to the course location (module, topic, etc) for each video.


Post Your Content

Students will appreciate this.

Getting Started:

Students will appreciate it if you post your class content (lecture notes, slides, videos, etc.) on the LMS or in your course content repository.


Prioritize the materials for maximum student success.  For example, rather than providing a set of 60 slides or 10 videos per module, weed out those that don’t relate directly to learning outcomes.  And, for the materials that you post, call out priority content.


Capture Your Lectures for Video

Record and post lectures. Use the tools available to you.

Getting Started:

If you lecture in class, you may decide to supplement your lecture notes with lecture capture segments. If so, start with one or two segments, and see how it works for you. Of course, it is best to focus on the highest priority content.


Give yourself a break; these may not look like professionally produced videos and that's OK! "Quick and dirty" works in this situation. Be sure to focus only on the most important concepts and content to help your students achieve the course objectives and learning outcomes.

Meet Live Virtually - Synchronously

You can meet live during regular class time.

Getting Started:

Meeting during the regularly scheduled class time can create comfort and continuity for your students. Make sure you are comfortable using your institution's webconferencing tool and practice if you haven't used it previously.


If you lecture, keep in mind that long lectures don’t work in the virtual environment.  At a minimum, you should break your lectures every 6 to 10 minutes.  This give you the opportunity to ask your students a question or two, seek their questions, or maybe even conduct a brief quiz.  


You can also hold classes live virtually and give students a 5-10 minute break mid-session, which can help keep them alert.


Use Publisher Resources

This might be a good time to use those publisher resources.

Getting Started:

This might be a good time to use publisher resources that are pertinent to the course goals and learning objectives. It may be that publisher content you did not deem necessary before the switch to the online environment are now of value. Any material that can assist students in meeting the course goals and objectives are key and can enhance and reinforce what you are already providing.


Check for Understanding

Conduct low stakes and formative assessments.

Getting Started:

Rely more on low stakes and formative assessments. This way you and your students can track progress to learning outcomes.

  1. Offer practice quizzes with low or no stakes.

  2. Allow students to submit longer assignments in chunks and give feedback before they continue and complete these assignments.

  3. Include Q&A sessions in synchronous/live virtual lectures and meetings.

  4. Hold online office hours and encourage students to contact you then.


Move Assessments and Assignments Online

Get Creative!

Getting Started:

Being a little creative in rethinking how you will assess your students and how they will complete assignments can make the transition to online less burdensome. If you can move quizzes and exams online, do so. If doing this is complicated, you could consider alternatives.

  1. Give students multiple options to complete a quiz or an exam; for example, you can treat quizzes and exams as "take home" assessments.

  2. Redesign quizzes and exams so that students can use resources but still be required to think critically and do original work.

  3. Use publisher resources to expand your assessments and question banks.

  4. Consider credit for completion for some assignments, instead of a number or letter grade.


Well-reasoned suggestions from Rebecca Barret-Fox, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Arkansas State University


Class Discussions

Use discussion tools.

Getting Started:

Use the discussion tool in your institution's LMS to create online discussions. These can be asynchronous and require students to post their comments and then read and respond to their classmates' comments.


Working in Groups

Yes, this is possible online!

Getting Started:

Use the feature in your institution's LMS to split students into groups. If you teach a large class, this can create a sense of community and connection. Students can work closely on assignments and presentations in smaller groups and/or engage in informal discussion about the course.


Student Presentations

Yes, these can be done online!

Getting Started:

Asynchronous presentations: Have your students use virtual meeting and recording tools to do their presentations and then post/upload them in the course for you and their peers to view and comment on.

Synchronous presentations: If you are meeting synchronously/live virtually with your students, you can use some of this time for them to do their presentations.


Student Participation and Engagement

What to tell your students.

Getting Started:

Inform your students that attendance and participation in the online delivery mode will be based on the work they submit online and on their participation. They should participate fully by completing and submitting assignments and assessments on time and by engaging in all learning activities, for example discussions and lectures.