ALL SPPG Spring Term 1 courses at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will meet online starting January 3, 2022. For the most recent information, visit the official page for COVID-19 Updates.



Flexing all the way to Remote Teaching or Online Teaching?

It’s part of the CardinalFlex model that the University might need to move courses out of face-to-face instruction altogether. If we go down this road and you are organizing the activities in your course via the LMS, then you may not have much more work to do. But you do need to decide how you are going to finish the semester and you have a couple of options:

  1. Remote teaching (synchronous): Carry on with face-to-face sessions via Zoom or Google Meet at the same time you would normally conduct class. Collect assignments and administer exams via the LMS. Assign grades via the LMS.
  2. Online teaching (asynchronous): Limit face-to-face sessions via Zoom and conduct most discussions asynchronously on discussion boards in the LMS. Collect assignments, administer exams, and assign grades in the LMS as well.

There are great resources for instructors and students on the following pages:

Remote Teaching Resources       Remote Learning Resources  

Please look through the various buckets below for assistance in preparing yourself, the course, and your students for the change in the learning environment.


Being Prepared to Teach Online

Review the Remote Teaching Resources for Faculty. This page contains resources for preparing yourself and your students to make the shift to learn online

Also, it is helpful know and share with your students the resources for shifting from an inperson environment to online. Read more on the Remote Learning Resources for Students by clicking here.

Taking your face-to-face course online
  • Review and practice the essential features of Canvas. Log into your Canvas course. Make sure your syllabus is updated in Canvas. Make sure any assignment links are working.
  • Set up a free Zoom account and log into Zoom. Create and participate in a test Zoom call. Practice using your camera and microphone and how to record meetings to the cloud. (Note that the free Zoom account supports one-on-one meetings of any length. Meetings of more than two are limited to 40 minutes. This limitation is lifted on licensed accounts. If you need a licensed account and greater capacity for your course, email the Helpdesk..)
  • Set up a free Flipgrid account.
  • Create a test recording using the Panopto account provided by the university in your Canvas course.
  • Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible. Inform them that changes are probably coming and where they can expect to find out about those changes: E-mail, Canvas so you can get them more details soon.
  • Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction: What do you think you can realistically accomplish during this time period? Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability? Do you just want to keep them engaged with the course content somehow?
  • Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption — providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
  • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students’ ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a closure is caused by a local crisis, it may be already taxing everyone’s mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning. 
  • During the next 1-2 weeks, plan to test specific technology tools in each of your courses that will help support remote class learning experiences. It is okay to tell students you are testing these tools or strategies in preparation for the potential of remote classes.
  • When possible, use low-bandwidth options, and limit lengthy videos when possible. Students may have limited data plans. Emphasize that group Zoom meetings, for instance, have a call-in option.
  • Reach out to the Writing Center (Twin Cities Campus) for help in adapting writing assignments. Any faculty member whose courses involve writing projects will be supported as they transition into online teaching.  A variety of supports will be available, including, but not limited to: developing peer review guides for students; providing targeted writing feedback to students; reviewing writing projects; creating resources specific to the course assignment; and discussing specific writing topics with students.
  • Twin Cities librarians are available to support your research needs. Contact the Library for help with finding and integrating electronic resources into your course.
LMS Assignments and Assessments

One of the biggest struggles faculty had with remote teaching in Spring 2020 was moving assignments online and figuring out how to assess whether students had really learned what they were supposed to learn. Having your assignments in the LMS means you don’t have to do as much work in the middle of the semester if we have to transition to online courses.

But we also know that collecting paper assignments could be less safe than it was before COVID. Papers can transmit droplets from one space to another. It might be safe to collect papers online through Canvas. That’s a decent reason to start making the assignments that you would normally collect on paper into assignments in the LMS while you sip lemonade on your socially-distanced deck this summer.

Check out these training sessions on using Canvas to collect assignments and engage your students

Video Lectures and Content

Seeing someone face-to-face is a fundamental point of human connection. But that connection can’t happen if instructors can’t upload huge video files because they have a lower bandwidth connection at home. And that connection can’t happen if students can’t download and watch those videos. Plus, psychological studies tell us students have about a 6-7 minute ability to focus strongly on one idea or point.

Being flexible with this in mind pushes us to recommend that instructor consider giving students lectures and/or other content to watch outside of class, on their own time, but to construct them in 4-7 minute “chunks” of video. These can easily be recorded during down-time, and upload more easily than larger videos. Plus, if you say something you don’t want to, you only have to go back and re-record a little bit.

Ed Tech recommends using our new Panopto lecture capture system to record these shorter videos. Panopto will integrate with Canvas, delivering your videos right to your course shell. You can even use Zoom to do cloud recordings and they will show up in your Panopto account. If you need help learning the tool, check out our training schedule, which will include more Panopto trainings.


Check out these Panopto training videos:

Flipping the Classroom

Flipped classrooms have been around for a long time, and we know many of our instructors at Saint Mary’s already use this teaching method. But it might be worth doubling-down on it to teach face-to-face during a pandemic.

Lecturing in-class may be better accomplished with the shorter videos mentioned earlier, freeing up class time for more in-depth discussion, or activities that can be accomplished in small, socially-distanced groups or even wholly online. A good recommendation could be to break up the time you have in-class with your students into five segments, with activities they are familiar with (and maybe one that is new every once in a while). Give them some short writing to do, ask them to summarize an argument that they have read, try out a new technology tool, or try to formulate examples and analogies for the content they took in outside of class time.

Don’t forget, if you’re worried about students skipping lectures they should watch before class, Panopto has an option to insert a quiz question into the middle of a video. Very handy!

It’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds. but we’d love to help you brainstorm ideas during our upcoming workshops.

Ensuring Access

In an emergency, you often need to get your class, and materials, online as soon as possible. Students will be supportive of these efforts. As soon as you can, however, you should also make sure that the materials you put online are accessible to everyone in your course. It is also our legal responsibility, according to the Office of Civil Rights. This page provides some instructions, tips, and ideas for ensuring everyone has access to succeeding in your course.

Please know how to provide extended time for students with accommodations through Access Services (text, video).



Read&Write Resources