Instructional Continuity: Instructional Activities

This page contains general and specific suggestions for how to approach designing your course for the remainder of the semester.  

General Suggestions for Instructional Activities

Balance Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching and Learning Modes: Create learning materials and experiences for students to allow them to work at their own pace and take time to absorb/react to course materials.  This approach will increase accessibility and equity.  Use synchronous tools (e.g. Zoom) selectively and only for experiences that are not high stakes; if you are using synchronous tools for lecture delivery, make sure that students can access these sessions in a reliable way and have access to recordings afterwards in Canvas.

Use Canvas: Create a course site that contains everything that students will reference or need at any time to complete the final weeks of the semester.  Beyond Canvas use resources that are well established and with reliable UT support in place.

Less is more: Routine assignments likely take twice as long to complete at home because of unknown factors; prioritize and be realistic.

Give explicit instructions:  Outline deliberate instructions (specifying time-on-task and length of time) to complete an assignment.  If you are using synchronous tools to deliver "live" lectures or facilitate interactions, it will be important to prepare your students and explain how to act, respond, take notes, access help in case of technical difficulties, and reference materials online afterwards.    

Support Resources

With these general suggestions in mind, think about the activities that make up your class, not just class time, but over the remainder of the semester. The following section will help you translate those activities from an in-person setting to an online setting. For any of the options below, you will want to inform and set expectations with your students well in advance via Canvas Announcements.  Additional resources for instructional activities may be found on the School/College support tab of this site.  

Choose one of the sections below to explore activities and resources.


Synchronous Lectures: Zoom meetings can help you facilitate synchronous learning in your class. The videoconferencing format can be used for sharing information and also for engaging and connecting with students. You’re encouraged to talk to students through your webcam—let them hear your voice and see your face—and share slides or documents as well, if needed.  Be aware that students are not guanteed to have easy or reliable access to computers or the internet, so consider using synchronous lecturing via Zoom selectively.

  • You don’t need to hold live Zoom meetings on every class day or equivalent to the amount of time you were meeting in person—but, if you do hold live class sessions, please always schedule them within your normal class times.  You might start with a short, very focused Zoom meeting each week (and record it) and then engage with students through other means in Canvas over the rest of the week. 
  • Make sure that you poll your students and ensure they can access Zoom with the tools they have available. 
  • Provide detailed guidance for how they should watch, take notes, and interact with you during these sessions.  Advise them on what they should do if their connection is broken or slow.
  • To avoid unwanted meeting attendees, avoid sharing the link to your meeting in any public online space, and consider choosing the option "Only authenticated users can join" in your Zoom meeting settings.
  • Always remember to record any Zoom meetings, and post the links in Canvas for students who are not able to log in during the live time. To ensure equity, students who only access recorded meetings will need to be able to engage and ask questions in Canvas in a way that mirrors what students can do in live sessions. 
  • Keep in mind, it may take several hours for Zoom to process your recording and captions. If you want a recording available at a specific date and time, record it early. You can also reach out to UT Library's Captioning and Transcription Services for assistance with captioning and interpretation. Regardless of the method you choose, please consider uploading your supporting materials to Canvas.


Asynchronous Lectures: It will be hard to predict or make assuptions about what your students will be able to access during this period.  One of the easiest, more reliable and accessible options is to course or lecture materials available online for students to explore on their own. 

  • You can make an annotated or narrated PowerPoint available to your students in Canvas by pre-recording your lecture at home or in your office using Zoom and/or Panopto, a new lecture capture tool available through every Canvas course site. 
  • You can share these resources in your Canvas course site. If you have previously recorded materials, such as lecture capture recordings, post these to Canvas.



In addition to watching live or recorded sessions, create a parallel discussion forum in Canvas and encourage students to ask questions there first and to help each other when possible to reduce your email response load. 

In addition to watching live or recorded sessions, create an accompanying auto-graded Canavs quiz (or other assignment) to check for understanding. Hold virtual office hours via Zoom (and record them), or Canavs Chat, for students to ask questions or get feedback. Allow students to submit questions via email or the discussion board in Canvas.

Student Engagement

Consider using Zoom for real-time audio or video communication with your students.  Canvas Chat for real-time communication with students in your course. Schedule these sessions with at least 24 hours advance notice.  ​Schedule these sessions with at least 24 hours advance notice.  UT Instapoll is the recommended free online tool for faculty to poll students and capture their graded or non-graded responses.

  • Establish contact methods and hours. Communicate your email address and phone number as well as the best days and times to reach you. Let students know in advance when you’ll be away longer than 24-48 hours to avoid feelings of frustration.
  • Provide directions often and in various ways. Be clear and concise with your directions and expectations. Also provide your directions in multiple ways, such as through email and within the online course. If you create a video with instructions on how to complete a task, be sure to provide the same directions in text.
  • Provide effective and timely feedback. This is important in any course, especially online. Make your presence known in a discussion forum by getting involved early and asking questions that keep the discussion going. Students should also have some sense of their progress throughout the remainder of the course. 
  • Encourage resource and information sharing.  Students can answer questions asked by peers about the course and share related resources through open-ended discussion forums in Canvas.  
  • Send reminders to keep students on track.  Communicate deadlines and send reminders to your students on a regular basis so they stay on track. If a student falls behind, make time to speak with that student on what he or she can do to get back on track. It’s also helpful to provide a clear and unambiguous checklist for students so they know what they have to complete and when.

Canvas Assignments allows for students to submit assignments and faculty to return graded feedback remotely.

For quizzes and exams, use the Canvas Quiz tool. This tool allows faculty to create a graded assignment that can be multiple-choice, short answer, or file upload for essays. Work is in progress regarding online proctoring options.

You will want to consider the structure and delivery of your assessments to students unable to attend class sessions.

  • Consult your syllabus and consider changing the format of assessments so that students can receive and submit assignments remotely.
  • Take note of both low-stakes and high-stakes assessment in your course and consider changing the ratio in favor of more low-stakes assessments. Delivering frequent low-stakes assessments helps students stay connected to the course. High-stakes assessments should be delayed where possible until students return to campus.
  • Academic integrity should be maintained in all assessments but especially high-stakes assessments (e.g., final exams). The University is investigating the use of online proctoring services for you to deliver exams and other high-stakes assignments to remote students. More info to come.
Discussions Groups, Labs, and Office Hours

Discussion Groups

Faculty and students have a few options for creating small group, interactive discussions.

  • Collaborative and discussion-based assignments (e.g., language course discussions) will require a video conferencing tool. UT's supported video conferencing tool is Zoom.
  • Use Canvas Conferences to hold group discussions.
  • Canvas Discussions allows for threaded, text-based discussion as well as inclusion of other multimedia.


Lab activities typically require specific equipment and supplies and are therefore difficult to fully translate into an online space in a short period of time. If you have a humanities or language based lab, Zoom will allow for much collaboration.  If you have a data-based lab, consider how best to provide raw data for analysis. If you have a physical lab, investigate virtual labs, online demos, and other departmental options.  The Texas Institute for Discover Education in Science (TIDES) provides guidance for teaching lab courses remotely on their "Remote Teaching" page.

Office Hours

In order to support students as they adapt to this change in course delivery, consider conducting extended office hours.  

  • Schedule a phone call with your students.
  • UT's supported solution from your home or office is Zoom which also allows you to share your computer screen should that be helpful.
Online Proctoring for Quizzes and Exams

Implement Proctorio for assessments delivered via Canvas Quizzes to monitor student behavior and promote academic honesty. Proctorio is an AI-based Google Chrome extension which integrates into Canvas and deters problematic behaviors by monitoring students during assessment. Instructors should continue to write effective, discriminating exam questions. Consult the Toolbox to learn more about how to use Proctorio.