Five Time Saving Tips for Teaching Online in the Coronavirus Crisis

decorative imageAs the dust starts to settle from the initial rush to move all classes online and all students back home, the differences in teaching face-to-face versus online become more apparent.  Using your time wisely is critical as students are also sharing the struggle to change their learning habits. Keeping in mind the tasks to complete to finish the semester well, consider these tips:

Plan your time

It’s easy to lose time when you’re teaching (or learning) remotely online and the typical time boundaries don’t exist.  Take control of your time by planning it out at the start of each week to prevent crash and burn.

Tip:  Use the planner designed for students–this works great for teachers, too!  Add time blocks to spend on each teaching task, and use the progress slider bars help you stay on track.  Still prefer paper?  Day Designer has free printables.

Spend time efficiently

In a face-to-face environment, it isn’t typical practice to meet one-on-one with every one of your students.  Many questions students email that we answer individually while teaching online can be minimized through pro-active communication.

Tips:  Add a Course Questions discussion board, and encourage everyone to ask and answer much as students help each other figure things out in f2f classes.  To make the most of your discussion boards, spend a few minutes in this Post with Intentionality tutorial by Peggy Ertmer from Purdue.

Target your feedback time

Online studies show students value a short piece of feedback given quickly than extensive feedback given a week or so later.  In the online environment, it is also important to give a virtual equivalent to the positive acknowledgement of tasks well done.  Cut and paste is your friend, such as, “I can tell you worked hard on this assignment–well done!”

Tip:  For assignments, divide your feedback into General and Individual Feedback. Post an announcement summing up general feedback for students as soon as possible.  Limit individual feedback to positive affirmations of things done well and specific information on how that student can do better next time.

Help!  I still need help finding more time!!

We can’t manufacture more time for anyone, but we can recommend a few additional things to help you ‘find’ time in your new online teaching life.

  • Templates save time, such as this one for giving assignment directions. Searching in Canvas Commons is a great way to find assignments you can import and modify for your own work.  Use the shows the import from commons buttonfound in top right corner when  logged into your Canvas course
  • No time to clean your home office, or no time to organize a home office in the first place?  Skip cleaning, and use one of the Zoom virtual backgrounds made of Ferris learning spaces!

Don’t forget to ask your eLearning team for help!

Remember, your students are looking to you for your subject matter expertise–they are not looking to you for you to be an overnight sensation in technology!  If you’re trying to find out how to do something in Canvas or with technology, and you are stuck for more than 10 minutes, reach out to eLearning and let us spend the time helping you focus on teaching! Email us at or use our live virtual help desk (below)

eLearning’s live virtual help desk M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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