COVID-19 Online Learning Plan

In the event that classes are unable to meet in-person, the College has a number of resources available to facilitate a transition to online instruction. The recommendations below are consistent with other institutions and form the essential plan of moving to online learning in a contingency situation. 

For implementation, questions, both technical and pedagogical, please contact:

Josh Moon
Educational Technology Specialist

Core principles

  • Keep teaching & learning: focus on your learning goals, adjust as best you can, be patient with students and technology, and realize that things will not be perfect.
  • Work with what you have and to your strengths. Limit new technology that you are unfamiliar with and have to learn.
  • Use audio, video, synchronous chats, web conferencing, visuals, and creativity to foster community and personalization as much as possible.
  • Do not lose track of struggling students. Maintain connections with students who do not appear as engaged. They might have technical challenges, needs insecurity, and other challenges making it difficult to transition to the online environment.

How can I present material to students?

  • Take advantage of quality instructional content offered by other educators.  Are there lectures, presentations, TED Talks, etc., that you can link to help instruct students?
  • Our Kalamazoo College Library has videos, articles, eBooks, and other resources that are available on and off campus.  They are happy to help you integrate them into your online instruction as well.  To work with them, please contact
  • QuickTime supports screen recording and is an accessible solution for Mac users who wish to turn their PowerPoints and other applications into videos for students. Watch the Quicktime Screen Recording video on Youtube to understand the process.
  • PowerPoint allows users to record narration and export the file as a video.
  • Instructors also utilize other instructional methods including:
    • Drawing and writing instructions on a digital whiteboard such as OpenBoard.
    • Record an audio “podcast.”  You can use devices such as smartphones, iPads, or download a simple audio recorder to your desktop.
    • Perform low-tech lecture capture with a smartphone.
  • Consider hosting video files outside of Moodle for student convenience.  Sharing large files is possible with OneDrive as part of our Office 365 suite.

If my class is unable to meet in person, how can we collaborate and work on class content together?

Moodle Based Tools

  • The online discussion Forum is a classic tool for students to upload questions, supply responses, and make those posts accessible to other students.  Creating authentic dialogue and exchange can be challenging. Educause has 10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions.
  • Switch to the online Assignments dropbox for submission and grading if you cannot receive physical papers.
  • Moodle also supports audio recording. Consider including audio in grading feedback and discussion Forums to personalize and foster interaction beyond text.
  • You can utilize online quizzes. Focus on formative assessment and learning support to limit questions about academic honesty.
  • Since you will be relying a great deal on email, consider turning on notifications and subscriptions for features like Assignments, Forum, and other resources.

Other Tools

  • A popular tool called Hypothesis allows private groups to annotate the text of webpages and PDF files (hosted on Moodle).  This can be used asynchronously for discussion or even synchronously where the class can “meet” at a text and annotate together in real-time.  The tool is free and open source.
  • Padlet is a digital posting board that supports text boxes, images, links, video, etc.  Basic features are free. Rick Barth demoed Padlet during our Fall Faculty Colloquium.
  • As a Microsoft school, all Kalamazoo College staff, faculty, and students have access to the online Office 365 suite. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and other resources available online for collaboration under a secure login.

Video conferencing

  • The College possesses licenses for the video platform Zoom. Synchronous video chats should be seen as supplemental and not as full replacements for contact hours.  Instructors will have more success breaking students into groups for shorter, small chats. Contact Media Services for Zoom requests.
  • The College is currently exploring our Microsoft resources to supply additional video meeting options.

Other concerns

  • It is important to remember that students may not have access to computers, laptops, and high-speed data connections especially in a time of disruption. Keep this in mind when scheduling synchronous activities, expecting students to access large files, and accepting assignments. Use video strategically and in moderation.
  • Before requiring students to install or sign-up for a supplemental technology, consider student privacy and data to ensure that accessibility, security, and FERPA are maintained. 
  • If you wish to begin using the Moodle online grade book, please set up time with Josh Moon to get started. Collaboration in making sure the grade book works for your class will save frustration and time.

More resources

The online resources available to support contingency online instruction are numerous. Here are a few of the best and most helpful.

Return to all COVID-19 Online Learning Plan Updates

Was this post helpful?