Getting Started: 7 Things to Consider

Remember that this crisis is not normal. This is a short term solution to a difficult time. Remind students that this is temporary as well and that you will all get through this challenge. If you are ill, rest and take care of yourself. If your students are ill, encourage them to do the same.

The reason for the disruption may affect the class in different ways. If a flu outbreak on campus is disrupting classes, keep in mind that you (and your students) may also be impacted by illness. In this case, students may be concerned about illness, and may also be impacted by negativity surrounding the disruption, such as racist and xenophobic incidents. Remember to consider inclusive teaching practices for online environments and reassure students of your commitment to the respect of all learners.


Wherever possible, use tools that you and your students are already using and are supported by the University of Michigan. Canvas, G Suite at Michigan, and BlueJeans are all campus supported tools that students may be familiar with. Students can also receive support for these tools by contacting the help desk. There may be situations where you will need to consider new tools to meet course needs. The list of tools identified on the ITS Remote Resource Guide is a good starting point for teaching remotely.

If you have to move to  remote instruction swiftly, students will likely feel isolated and confused. More than anything, they may be looking for contact from you as the leader of the class. It is helpful to communicate with students early and consistently. Be prepared for more questions than usual from students.

See more in Setting Student Expectations for examples

Think about your planned instruction to make decisions about what may need to change. Given your course objectives, content and assignments — what needs to be maintained?  What could be removed or postponed depending on the duration of the emergency? In particular, you may need to make adjustments to your grading plan. For example, you may want to consider alternatives to assessment in a time of high stress. There are ways to implement different teaching strategies online, but remember that some flexibility may be necessary. You may need to shift due dates or think about alternative assessment strategies depending on the duration of the emergency. Be sure to communicate any and all changes to your students as described above.

There are many ways to evaluate student participation — attendance is often a proxy for this. In an emergency, attendance policies may have to be relaxed or altered so that multiple ways of engaging can count. Consider using assignments (reflections, quizzes, etc.) or discussion board participation, with reasonable due dates, as an option to understand if students are active in the course. 

Many of the activities used in a face-to-face class can be translated into an online format. You may even find that this is an opportunity to explore new ways of teaching.

  • The Teaching Strategies page includes a variety of ways to reimagine how your course might change in an online format.
  • CRLT & AI are hosting office hours to talk with faculty about how to move activities online.
  • CRLT’s page on Teaching during COVID-19 has important things to consider during this crisis.

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Need Something Else? 

Contact the ITS Service Center by chat, phone (734-764-4357) or email for additional information or questions related to U-M supported online tools.

Please also reach out to your school, college, or unit’s IT professionals for additional information or questions that are specific to your department.

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