Teaching Strategies

Plan to be Ready

This page will help you identify options to prepare your course for disruption. Beneath the questions to consider is information on technologies that can help with particular teaching and learning tasks, and how you can get started with them.

Questions To Consider

  • What are students’ responsibilities if class is canceled? How will you establish those expectations at the start of the semester?
  • How will you communicate with your students if you’re not able to meet with them?
  • Will you need to share content with your students? If so, what will you need to provide?
    • How will you distribute readings or other documents?
    • How will you make a lecture available?
  • Will you need to interact with your students in real time? If so, how will this happen?
  • How will students submit any assignments that are due?
  • What activities happen in typical class sessions, and what do they need to accomplish (explaining new material, giving students a chance to practice with or explore concepts, assessing student comprehension, etc.)? Keeping this in mind can help in selecting good alternatives.

Set Expectations

If students will need to complete readings, assignments or other work in spite of cancellations, letting students know what to look for if the need arises can ease the way.

Canvas Course Site

Canvas, our learning management system, provides a site for every course in the University. Although each course will use different features, and some courses will use the system minimally, each site can be a platform for any essential information and means to interact if class can’t meet. The Homepage can be used to display contact information, and links to documents such as a Syllabus or course policies. The site can also be a hub for collecting Assignments, recording lectures students can view online, and hosting an exchange of messages among students on a Discussion Board. See our information on how to access Canvashow to set up a Homepage in Canvas and how to publish a Canvas course site. For information on using other features, please see the descriptions below.

Syllabus Search

A Syllabus can be a vehicle for explaining what will happen if the class can’t meet, along with other course policies. The University’s Syllabus Search system allows all instructors to upload syllabi in Canvas for their courses, so everyone else in the BC community can see them. The system is password protected so only members of the BC community can see your Syllabus. This makes it available to prospective as well as current students. See instructions for how to share your Canvas syllabus with the Syllabus Search program here.

Communicate With Students

There are a variety of ways to send students a brief message, pointing them toward what they need to do.

Class Email

The University provides an email address you can use to reach your entire class. Email is the most direct way BC provides to communicate brief but essential information to a group. Follow the instructions from Information Technology Services on how to email your class.

Canvas Announcements

Send an announcement through Canvas, which will prompt a notification to students by email. Notification emails include a link which brings students into the Canvas site. Announcements are stored in your Canvas site so it is easy to refer to them later. Click ‘Announcements’ in the left-hand course navigation bar, and then click on the ‘+Announcements’ button. More documentation on announcements is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Canvas Media Recordings

Canvas Media Recordings allow you to create brief (ideally under 10 minutes) video and audio communications for your students, using the mic and webcam on your laptop. Recordings can be a convenient alternative to text instructions where something is most effectively communicated via voice. Recordings can be added within a Canvas page, assignment, discussion or quiz (see more on these tools, below). You can create a Canvas Media Recording in any place where you use the Rich Content Editor in Canvas. Flash must be up to date on your laptop for recording to work. Simply click on the icon of the film strip to get started. A helpful guide for more detailed information on creating media recordings is available in Canvas documentation.

Distribute Content

Short readings, links, handouts and other documents can be made available to students online.

Library E-Reserves

Library E-Reserves allows you to distribute electronic resources such as scanned book chapters, scanned articles, and other media to your course participants. The process is completed on your behalf by the library, and students are able to view the materials through the Canvas site set up for your case. To get started with library e-reserves, select your library, and follow the submission instructions. Requests for this service must be submitted in advance (see the Libraries web site for guidelines).

Canvas Modules

Canvas Modules allow you to organize content such as uploaded PDFs and Word docs, and links to web sites. You can also include content that you’ve created in Canvas, such as assignments or quizzes. A particular strength of Canvas modules is their flexibility. You can organize your modules by date, subject matter, unit, or whatever principle you choose. Click on ‘Modules’ on the left-hand course navigation bar, and then click the ‘+Module’. More documentation on modules is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Give A Lecture

Making a recording and posting it online can allow students to watch it at any point before your next meeting.


The Panopto software enables users to create quality recordings of lectures while allowing for the seamless integration of slides from presentation software like Powerpoint and Keynote. The software is quick to install and easy to use on any computer with a webcam and microphone. Recordings are easy to edit and are saved indefinitely, so you can view them in Canvas.  Click on ‘Panopto Recordings’ in the left-hand course navigation bar of your Canvas site. If this is your first time doing so, you will need to download the recorder software. The Center for Teaching Excellence has prepared documentation with step-by-step instructions.

Recording Studio

Panopto recordings can also be done in the Recording Studio at the Center for Teaching Excellence. Advantages of using the studio include an acoustically-optimized and distraction-free environment for recording, and the presence of trained staff to assist you. To schedule a time in the recording studio, contact centerforteaching@bc.edu.

Allow For Questions And Interaction

You could have students post and read messages at their own convenience, to accommodate any other complications they may be dealing with. If it is essential to interact in real time, you can also meet virtually online.

Canvas Discussion Board

Discussions provide a forum for students to post messages in response to a prompt. In Discussions, students can read and respond to each other’s messages over an extended period, so they don’t all to have be online at the same time. Posts can include audio and video as well as text. Discussions can be evaluated for a grade. Click on ‘Discussions’ in the left-hand course navigation bar, and then click the ‘+Discussion’ button. More documentation on discussions is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Virtual Conferencing

Virtual conferencing systems allow for real time interactions between an instructor and students, all of whom can, if desired, enable an audio and video feed and type messages.  Presenters can integrate PowerPoint slides, and record sessions to make available in case some students can’t participate.  Reviewing the system ahead of time is strongly recommended, to determine the best settings for what you want to accomplish and share information with students.

Zoom allows break-out rooms and flexible options for posting recordings.  Read about how to get started with an account that will allow 40 minute conference sessions.  A limited number of licenses are available to host longer sessions with additional features; please contact centerforteaching@bc.edu to inquire about license availability.  

Big Blue Button is integrated in Canvas and allows for unlimited session length, with a maximum of fifty participants.  Recordings can be saved for up to two weeks. Click on ‘Conferences’ from the left-hand course navigation bar, then click the ‘+Conference’ button. More documentation on Big Blue Button is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Assess Learning

To keep students on track with deadlines or check their comprehension, you might have them take quizzes or submit work online for you to review.

Canvas Assignments

Assignments are a platform where students can submit a deliverable of some kind–a document, a video, an audio file, etc.–for subsequent assessment. Submissions are time-stamped and grades can be recorded online. Grading itself can be done online, or submissions can be downloaded and printed. Click on ‘Assignments’ in the left-hand course navigation bar, and click the ‘+Assignment’ button. More documentation on Assignments is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Canvas Quizzes

Through Quizzes, instructors can pose questions in twelve different formats including multiple choice, with option for multiple answers, and short and paragraph answers. Instructors can set quizzes with the same time constraints as a quiz administered in person. Questions with preset answers such as multiple choice can be graded automatically. Instructors also have the flexibility to receive feedback anonymously by choosing the “Survey” option within quizzes. Click on ‘Quizzes’ in the left-hand course navigation bar; then click on the ‘+Quiz’ button. More documentation on quizzes is available from the Center for Teaching Excellence.