Teaching Online FAQs

Common Questions When Teaching Online

Browse the topics and questions below to find answers and go-to tips for effective lectures, activities, assignments, grading, office hours, and more.

Delivering a Class: Lectures and Activities

How do I deliver a lecture online?

For a recorded lecture, you can…

For a live lecture, we recommend that you…

  • Break your lectures into 10-minute sections (or shorter) so students can easily target material they need to review.
  • Label each section with a meaningful title.
  • Assign your students to watch the lecture, as if it were a reading.
  • Engage with your students after a recorded lecture by:
    • following up with an activity or assignment 
    • creating a discussion thread
    • creating a poll or survey
  • The biggest difference between lecturing in-class and lecturing online is how you interact with your students. We recommend that you…
  • Stop frequently to check for feedback and questions.
  • Encourage students to use the “raised hand” or “chat box” tool in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to ask questions and engage in real-time discussion.
  • Use the “whiteboard” tool in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to highlight, draw, or type on your slides.
  • Use polling to ask a question to the entire class.
  • Make as many of your materials (e.g., PowerPoint slideshows, notes) as possible available as separate files in Blackboard for your students to access before, during, and after the lecture. Consider making more materials and resources available in Blackboard than you might typically need.

Visit the ITS page on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Northeastern’s tool for holding live online lectures.

How do I convert in-class, problem-solving activities to a live, online format (rather than to an out-of-class assignment)?

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the tool that Northeastern uses to hold live online class sessions.

1. What kind of activity are you using?

Written Equation Activities

  • Tell students the specific time at which they need to submit their work (e.g, “I’ll need that from everyone by 3:15”).
  • Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can type their answers into the “chat box.”
  • Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can write or draw and hold their work in front of their computer camera to share it.

Design Activities

Question and Answer Activities

  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can use the “raise hand” tool to indicate they want to ask a question by speaking.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can use the “chat box” tool to ask a question by typing.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, instructors can collect short-answer written responses using the “Tests, Surveys, and Pools” tool.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, instructors can conduct real-time polls using the “Polls” tool.

2. Are your students working together?

  • Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, create “breakout sessions.”
  • Consider how many students should work together in a group. It can be challenging for students to work together in groups that have more than 4-5 members.

How do I convert in-class discussion activities to an online format?

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the tool that Northeastern uses to hold live online class sessions.

1. What kind of activity are you using?

Written Equation Activities

  • Tell students the specific time at which they need to submit their work (e.g, “I’ll need that from everyone by 3:15”).
  • Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can type their answers into the “chat box.”
  • Using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can write or draw and hold their work in front of their computer camera to share it.

Design Activities

Question-and-Answer-Activities

  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can use the “raise hand” tool to indicate they want to ask a question by speaking.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, students can use the “chat box” tool to ask a question by typing.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, instructors can Collect short-answer written responses using the “Tests, Surveys, and Pools” tool.
  • In Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, instructors can conduct real-time polls using the “Polls” tool.

How do I approximate lab activities online?

As you think about what lab activities students need to engage in to successfully complete the course…

  • Consider what aspects of a lab activity you can demonstrate and capture on video.
  • Consider what aspects of a lab activity students can do where they are. Students can take a video of their work and upload the file.
  • Consider how simulation activities can substitute for lab activities.
  • Consider what raw data sets you can give students to work with, if it is not feasible for students to generate their own data.
  • Lab and studio activities are often very discipline-specific. Your best resources are likely to be found in your department, college, and professional organizations.

How do I distribute course materials online?

  • Blackboard organizes materials in “folders.
  • Create a different folder for each class session or week.
  • You can create folders within folders to organize different kinds of materials.
  • You can upload any type of file (e.g., PowerPoint slides, Word documents, spreadsheets, videos).

Assignments and Grading

How do I collect out-of-class assignments online?

Blackboard has an Assignments” tool.

  • Having students upload their work into Blackboard keeps student work organized and is much easier than students emailing you individually.
  • Students can submit any type of file as an assignment in Blackboard.
  • Your TAs can access assignments for grading in Blackboard.
  • For assignments that consist of answering a series of questions, use the “Tests, Surveys, and Pools” tool in Blackboard.

How do I give a quiz or exam online?

You need to convert your normal style of quiz or exam to an online format. Blackboard can support many “question types” for quizzes and exams.

What is your typical style of quiz or exam question?

Open-Ended Problem Solving

  • Select “File Response” as the “question type” in Blackboard. 
  • If students need to submit worked equations or drawings, they can create them on paper, then take a picture and upload it as an attachment to the quiz or exam.
  • Students can submit a file of any type (e.g., PDF, PNG) in response to a “File Response” question.
  • Visit the ITS page on how to create a test in Blackboard.

Multiple Choice

Written Responses

If you want to give a timed exam, you can set the times when you create the exam in Blackboard using the “Tests, Surveys, and Pools” tool.

 

How do I ensure students do the reading?

How do I grade student work online?

How can students collaborate on assignments?

  • Students can collaborate over email or using other tools they are familiar with.  
  • Students can submit their work as individuals, or a designated student can submit work for a group.
  • You can collect student work in Blackboard by creating an assignment.

How do I make sure students aren't cheating online?

How do I distribute course materials online?

  • Blackboard organizes materials in “folders.
  • Create a different folder for each class session or week.
  • You can create folders within folders to organize different kinds of materials.
  • You can upload any type of file (e.g., PowerPoint slides, Word documents, spreadsheets, videos).

Office Hours and Communication

How do I make class announcements online?

  • You can make an announcement to all students in a course using Blackboard’s announcements tool. Check the “Send a copy of this announcement immediately” box to also send the announcement as an email.
  • You can send emails to individuals and groups of students using Blackboard’s email tool.
  • Communicate often (at least weekly) with your students.

How do I hold office hours online?

Holding online office hours is similar to delivering a live lecture.

  • Use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to hold online office hours.
  • Students can use the “raised hand” or “chat box” (e.g., ask questions, give answers, engage in real-time discussion).

How do I support students who have documented disabilities?

The Disability Resource Center is Northeastern’s best resource for supporting students who have documented disabilities and may require accommodations.

You can contact the Disability Resource Center by email (DRC@northeastern.edu) or phone +1-617-373-2675.

How can my TA access the Blackboard course for grading, responding to discussion posts, etc.?

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