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How to Teach Online

Sometimes we meet our students in classes but online. Virtual classes can be used to record synchronous content for students, with the added benefit of an audience and real-time feedback. The goal when teaching online is to keep as many pieces the same as they were when we met in person. These same techniques can be used for Hybrid classes. An online space can help students connect with you and their peers, and adds regularity and stability to their schedule.

Create the space for the class

Creating a space for the class includes both the location, whether physical or virtual, as well as the time and day. Having a regular class can help students pace their work, and add a regularity to their week.

When teaching online our location can be a video call. To do this you can schedule regular class times by creating a Teams meeting link in Outlook, using the recurring event option. This way the class will have a consistent space, giving some familiarity and ability to reference old chat comments and video recordings.

This will also ensure you have the time blocked off, and colleagues and administrators know you are busy during this time.

Once you have the Teams “Join Meeting” link, use the MyCanvas calendar tool to create the event. Within the “more option” window, select “duplicate’ to set up recurring class times.

Once these are set up it is also a good idea to share the details with the students directly in an announcement or email. One way to ensure students are aware of this is to turn on “liking” for your welcome message, and weekly class reminders, and encourage comments and likes.

Prepare for the class

When giving a virtual class it can be extremely helpful to have another device, like a phone or tablet, to display the chat feed for the call. That way you can quickly glance at questions and comments coming from students, and react to them like you would in a real class. Additional devices can also be used to annotate slides, and physically separate some of the pieces you are presenting.

You should also do a quick systems check, especially before the first call. If you can find someone to act as your student to test it, even better. And most importantly, make sure to prepare your various devices for the class. Ensure you have the correct chargers and connections needed, and mute and turn off notifications for any devices where you share your screen, to avoid distracting popup during the class.


If you’re using multiple devices, like a computer and an iPad, simply start the call on the first device. Then on the second device there might be a popup to join, or you may have to navigate to the class and join directly. When you do, an option to transfer or add this device will come up; choose “add this device”.

By default all students who are signed in to their College account are added as Attendees to Teams meetings, and students having issues logging in can enter through the lobby, with your approval. And since all students are added as attendees, you can quickly mute all, although you will need to elevate them to presenter if they want to show their screen.

Start the first class by helping students get acquainted with the system. Make sure they can find the chat panel, and raise hand button to engage with you. Also encourage them to turn on their mic, and camera if they’re comfortable, when asking questions and interacting with the class. Having their cameras on can give you a better visual feedback of the students’ understanding. The communication and connection with others can help the students feel part of a community and help to motivate them to engage.

During the class simply teach as normal. Microsoft Whiteboard is a great tool for quick concept explanations and any collaborative learning you want to the students to engage in, and OneDrive is a great tool to annotate PDFs. Make sure to press “Start Recording” when you start, and start and stop the recording when changing topics. This will create smaller, easier to digest videos, and also allows superfluous content to be quickly trimmed from the beginning or end of the recording. Aim for pieces between 5 and 10 minutes.

Post the recordings

After the call, post the lecture notes and edit the videos. Video recordings from Teams are automatically added to the chat, and uploaded to your OneDrive Recordings folder. On the web view of the OneDrive file you can modify the title, modify the captions/transcript, add chapters, and change the expiry date(60 days by default). Closed captioning also allows students to skim through videos to refresh material from class, and find specific points they want to review. 

In summary

  • Create a space and location
  • Use online lectures in Teams to make recorded videos.
  • Mute your devices, and turn off notifications for any screen sharing devices
  • Be an awesome teacher
  • Edit and post videos to MyCanvas

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