Keep Teaching

The immediate resource you need to teach virtually today,
and strategies and assistance to help you plan for tomorrow.

When you need to move your course temporarily online due to unexpected circumstances, the following tools can be used to keep your class running, even if you are unable to meet in person.

If you are planning to move your course online for a future semester, please contact Design Help to set up an appointment to discuss development with an instructional designer.

Getting Started  

Staying in touch with your students is vital throughout any significant change in the schedule or administration of your class(es) — especially as a result of a crisis impacting all or part of campus. When a major disruption occurs, please inform your students about any changes in schedules, assignments, procedures or broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety and save you from becoming overwhelmed with individual questions. It is best to have a plan in place on how you will continue to run your course if, for an indefinite period, you are not able to teach your course through traditional means.  

Identifying the Best Approach for You 

Generally, there are two approaches to remote teaching and learning: synchronous and asynchronous. 

Synchronous is where the participants can hear, see and/or interact with each other at the same time and place. This would be most similar to a live, “in-person” class experience. This approach would usually be accomplished via a conferencing tool (e.g. Webex, Skype for Business, etc.) at a specific time. Good planning is necessary for the best results but it does not require much production time as there are no videos or audios to edit. 

Asynchronous is where learning does not take place at a set time and place. This approach is predicated on instructors creating and/or distributing content (e.g. recorded video lecture, voice-overs on PowerPoints, or even just handouts, etc.) ahead of time and supplementing it with additional elements (e.g. email, discussion boards, texts, assignments, etc.) to achieve class interaction but in a nonparallel fashion. 

Academic Advising Stay connected with your advisees, check in to see how they are doing and help them prepare for fall 2020. Advisement and Transition is available to support you and your students. Starfish can easily help you schedule appointments. Review our resources on advising remotely.

Course Delivery
Faculty Support Checklist

Review your courses that fall into one of the following categories of online delivery:

Currently online — Delivered 100% online, generally using the LMS and/or some form of conferencing technology. These courses can continue as-is.

Hybrid or blended — Combination of face-to-face and online instruction, generally using the LMS. These courses can move to 100% online.

Not online this semester — Online content available. These courses can likely be moved online by copying a previous course.

Not online/never been taught online — A course shell is available for these courses, for providing content to students. A campus‐wide synchronous conferencing tool, WebEx, is available to maintain the current schedule of campus class meeting dates/times.

Good Practices to Consider

While we attempt to put our materials online to meet the current challenge, it is important to remember maintaining the security of our environment and data is very important. SUNY Cortland has negotiated various contracts with vendors, when doing so we include specific language to protect student privacy and your intellectual rights. In particular, any software which collects data and involves students must adhere to FERPA regulations. When looking to meet with our students over video, we have several offerings such as WebEx, Skype and Microsoft Teams. Any software outside of these does not contain language to protect our students nor your intellectual property. For instance, in using a tool like Google Hangouts or Zoom, we can not guarantee those entities would not use your material for promotion or share them with other users of the system without your consent. Please be careful when agreeing to any terms of service, as you may be giving away rights you did not intend to. If you need assistance please contact the Helpdesk.


  • Inform students about any changes or interruptions promptly. Students may not know what your expectations are in terms of their current responsibilities. Will they be expected to adhere to the original schedule of assignments on the syllabus? If there are group projects planned, will these stay in place? How you modify the course may depend upon the duration of the interruption, but unfortunately this may not be known early on. Initial messages should reassure the students that they will not be held accountable for unavoidable consequences of the interruption, and that flexibility and accessibility will be part of any solution.
  • Focus on your course, not on the crisis. In the event of an external event that affects the broader University community, the administration will manage crisis communications, so you do not have to worry about providing those kinds of updates.
  • How you will communicate with your students: It is advisable to craft a group email and send it to your students in the event of a disruption. This can be done easily through Blackboard. Each of your courses has a separate Blackboard page that you can access through myRedDragon. Your Blackboard course site will enable you to send emails to the entire class. You will also want to consider whether you will communicate synchronously (in real time), asynchronously (with a delay), or with a combination of both depending upon your needs.
  • How often you will communicate with your students: Managing your communication load will be important as students may begin individually reaching out to you. It is important at the outset to let students know how quickly they can expect a response. In a crisis, students may grow anxious if they don’t hear back immediately. You may want to set an automatic reply in your University email account that reassures the students that you have received their message and you will get back to them in whatever span of time you deem realistic and appropriate for your capacity and their needs.
  • How your students will communicate with you: While most students at the outset of an interruption will reach out via email, you may want to identify an alternative solution that will make managing messages easier. Your Blackboard course site has a Discussion Board to which all your students have access. The Discussion Board will allow your students to post comments and questions all in one place. This will eliminate the need for you to wade through a mass of emails from large numbers of students. Since all the students in a class have access to the discussion board, you can create a Frequently Asked Questions forum which should reduce the need for you to respond to similar questions repeatedly.
  • How your students will communicate with each other: In some cases, your students may have established working groups that they will want to continue. The Discussion Board will also enable students to communicate asynchronously by posting messages to each other. You will want to establish some communication guidelines for these discussion forums so that your expectations for appropriate communication are clear.
  • How to communicate synchronously: Online synchronous communications can be managed through various web conferencing solutions. When thinking about setting up a web conference, you will need to consider how technically complex the tool will be for you and your students, and whether your students can attend an online synchronous session. To participate successfully in an online synchronous session, students will need Internet access with enough bandwidth and the requisite technical ability. Some of your students may live in different time zones so this is something to consider as well.

Online Champions

Faculty and Staff who have volunteered to offer assistance and answer questions related to on-line teaching and resources.

View list of Champions

Access Request Form

Information Resources Online Office Hours

Information Resources will be hosting online office hours beginning April 20th. We have IR staff with various expertise available to assist you with your questions and provide technology guidance.

Free or low-cost Internet and data plans

A number of Internet Service Providers and cell carriers are offering free or low-cost internet and data plans as part of the Federal Communication Commission's Keep America Connected Pledge. Check with your ISP for more information.