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Real-time Online Course Prep

RTOL format courses are fully online with live sessions in Zoom and asynchronous content in Canvas. The checklists below will help ensure you are ready to start teaching your real-time online course.

Before Your First Zoom Class

  1. Account Setup: Download and sign into Zoom.
  2. Zoom Classroom Setup: Use Zoom Canvas Integration to schedule course meetings
  3. Account Settings: Use the Zoom settings cheat sheet
  4. Practice: Test your Zoom room with someone, practice being host, sharing screen. (feel free to ask your program manager)

Canvas Site Checklists

An organized and thorough Canvas site is essential for a RTOL course. If you previously taught the course in-person, spend some time adapting your course to Canvas for an improved online learning experience.

  1. Build or Adapt Your Canvas Site:
    • Content: Ensure your Canvas site contains all relevant content for each lesson (i.e. slides, readings and videos, quizzes, assignments)
    • Context: Provide adequate supporting text for each lesson. Consider doing this by creating an overview page for each lesson module.
    • Assignments: Use the Canvas Assignments feature to set up all homework instructions and due dates
    • Discussions: Create a general course discussion board and encourage students to post questions so all can view answers and contribute. Set up a first lesson introduction discussion board. Determine if lesson-specific discussion boards (graded and with specific prompts) are needed.
    • Organization: Make your site navigable so students can easily find what they need (ask your PM if you need help, and read “Recommended Course Organization” below)
  2. Review Your Canvas Site: If you are using a pre-existing Canvas site, access the site early to check content for accuracy
    * Students get access to Canvas one week before the class starts
    • Check due dates and links (guide to bulk update due dates)
    • Update content, syllabus, and bio as needed
    • Delete outdated files and discussions
    • Publish all content for the upcoming lesson at the start of the week or earlier (Friday night is best for working students)
  3. Other Canvas Admin:

  • Home Page: Set your syllabus as the home page
  • General discussion board for questions
  • Lesson Modules
    1. Content – learning objectives and supporting text, readings, curated links, videos, slide decks
    2. Assignment with submission deadlines and points – include grading rubric
    3. Lesson-level discussion board – include prompt, consider whether graded or ungraded (optional)
    4. Activity (optional)
    5. Quiz (optional)

During Your Zoom Class Sessions

  1. Zoom Orientation with Students: Introduce the main Zoom features
    • Audio: mute, un-mute
    • Video: turn on/off
    • Chat: chat with everyone vs private
  2. Canvas Walkthrough: Share your screen and orient students to your Canvas site organization and navigation.
  3. Communication: Let students know how to communicate with you and other students between the class sessions. Provide an expected response time.
  4. Participation: How do you want students to ask questions during your lectures? Will you use and monitor chat? How should students answer if you ask a question?
    • Use non-verbal yes/no icons
    • Reactions (thumbs up)
    • Type answer into the chat
    • Unmute and respond orally

  1. Routine: A consistent routine helps you and students stay organized
    • Weekly announcement: Use the “announcements” feature in Canvas to tell students what to expect in the coming week.
    • Warm-up: Welcome students by opening the Zoom room 5+ minutes early, begin class with an icebreaker or warm-up
    • Take attendance: Use Canvas roll call or your roster to track attendance. Note that attendance requirements are no longer included in UW PCE courses. Consider assessing participation as alternative to attendance.
    • Record sessions to the cloud: Watch the Zoom in Canvas LTI video, recorded meetings are available for 90 days in the cloud
    • Take breaks: Set a timer to remind you to take a 10 minute break each hour. Announce the start and end time for breaks so that everyone comes back on time.
  2. Wrap Up: Leave yourself enough time at the end to wrap up your session
    • Preview Homework: Pull up Canvas and show students where to find the homework, instructions, and due dates
    • Open Time: Consider having the last 10 minutes of each session as open Q&A time or to give students the opportunity to chat with each other as a group or privately.

Some tips to keep your students engaged and connected during online sessions include:

  1. Session Overview: Present learning objectives and timed agenda at the beginning of each session so students know what to expect.
  2. Use Visuals: Outside of discussions, include slides and other engaging visuals
  3. Change Interactions Every 20 Min. Different Zoom interactions include lecture, demonstration, whole-class discussion, breakout room discussion and activity, poll, quiz, student presentation, and homework review
  4. Structure Group Work: Plan group work in advance
    • Define the requirements: Provide students with detailed instructions, a time limit, and their expected deliverables at the end of the activity (e.g. instead of saying “Discuss these questions for 10 minutes” say “Make a list of 3 ideas for each question on this list”)
    • Assign a group leader: Designate a student and let them know their role expectations (e.g. taking notes, facilitating the discussion)
    • Monitor: Visit each group in their breakout room during the activity
  5. Incorporate Individual Work: Consider incorporating an individual activity during your session (e.g. on paper, in Canvas, using other software/websites).
    • Give detailed instructions and a specific time
    • Tell students to stay logged into Zoom and that you are there to help via chat during the activity
    • Leave instructions on screen during the activity
    • Discuss after calling everyone back together
  6. Make Meetings Accessible to All Participants:

Working with an IA / TA

Some RTOL courses are assigned an instructional assistant (IA). If your course has an IA, you and your program manager should work together to clearly delineate and communicate what the IA will do.

Common responsibilities for an IA in a real-time online course include:

  • Zoom Admin
    • Log into all class sessions via Zoom
    • Monitor chat during class session, alert instructor as needed
    • Upload class session recordings to Canvas
  • Student-related administration
    • Record class session attendance
    • Reach out to students that miss two sessions to ask how they are doing, encourage them to stay in class, or refer them to student support specialists –
  • Canvas Discussions
    • Monitor main course discussion board and weekly discussion board
    • Respond to questions and refer more advanced questions to the instructor
  • Grading
    • Communicate with the instructor to define how grading responsibilities will be divided
    • Midway through the quarter
    • Check students’ progress mid-quarter, email encouragement and help to students with missing assignments (cc the instructor on check-in emails)

Syllabus Template

Visit our Syllabus template page for more information.

Updated 03/13/24