Online Activities by Course Type

Most face-to-face courses can be developed and delivered effectively online with modifications that take advantage of the online modality. However, some course types may require special consideration for moving discipline-specific assessments and activities from face-to-face to online. This resource page provides suggestions for how to facilitate such assessments and activities online.

Please note that specific examples for each course type will soon be added to this resource page.

For more resources related to online instruction, visit the Online and Blended Teaching Program website.

Asynchronous Online

Asynchronous delivery of online courses means that students do the work of the course—such as accessing lecture content, submitting assignments, participating in discussions, and taking online quizzes—at different times. Asynchronous courses usually have due dates that provide students with a window of time to complete the assigned work. Asynchronous delivery is the most common way to offer online courses and addresses issues related to access, equity, and student preference.

Synchronous Online

By contrast, synchronous delivery of online courses means that students must meet in a virtual space, such as Collaborate Ultra, on specific days and times. In a real-time, synchronous virtual environment, students can run into all sorts of issues, such as trouble logging into the session or audio problems, which can be frustrating for students and difficult for instructors to troubleshoot. However, some activities, such as group project work and virtual office hours, can be done very effectively in a synchronous format.

Content Delivery and Lectures

Most courses have disciplinary content that students need to understand to meet the course learning objectives. Traditionally, content delivery has been provided by instructors via face-to-face lectures. With easy-to-use digital tools now available to instructors, content can be delivered effectively online instead of face-to-face. In fact, online content delivery has distinct advantages: students can review content at their own pace, can easily return to concepts that challenge them, and can use online content to study for assessments; plus, instructors can reuse content from semester to semester.

Content delivery in all courses should be provided online asynchronously. This includes:

  • Lectures (using text or PowerPoint with audio)
  • Demonstrations (using screen capturing software)
  • Videos
  • Course Materials
  • Readings
  • Websites

Assessments

Most assessment types can be completed fully online in Canvas, including assessments that can be digitally uploaded into Canvas or can be administered with existing Canvas tools, such as Quizzes. Assessments facilitated through Canvas have important advantages: students have an ongoing record of their coursework and a sense of where they stand in terms of their course grade; plus, instructors need not worry about losing physical papers, exams, or grade books.

Most assessments should be administered and graded online asynchronously in Canvas. These include:

  • Quizzes and Exams in Canvas
  • Writing Assignments and Essays
  • Handwritten Quizzes and Exams (photographed and uploaded)
  • Recorded Student Presentations (using PowerPoint with audio)

Course Types

The following course types may require special consideration for moving discipline-specific assessments and activities online:

  • Lecture Courses with Lab Sections
  • Lecture Courses with Discussion Sections
  • Studio and Performance-Based Courses
  • Seminars and Other Courses

Below each course type is a common assessment or activity that is traditionally completed face-to-face, and each bullet point provides suggestions for how to facilitate that assessment or activity online without compromising student learning.

Keep in mind that for all course types, content delivery should be provided online asynchronously, and most assessments should be administered and graded online asynchronously in Canvas.

Lecture Courses with Lab Sections

In-Class Lab Experiments

  • Instructors can assign online simulations or virtual labs and require students to submit lab reports or other evidence of learning
  • Instructors can record video demonstrations and assign students to watch them and to submit evidence of their learning

In-Class Demonstrations of Statistical and Other Software Applications

  • Instructors can record video demonstrations using screen capturing software and require students to submit evidence of their learning

Case Studies and Clinical Applications

  • Instructors can use online asynchronous discussion forums to facilitate discussion of text-based case studies and clinical applications
  • Instructors can record video simulations for case studies or clinical applications and assign students to watch them and to submit evidence of their learning

Lecture Courses with Discussion Sections

Q&A (Muddiest Points)

  • Discussion sections of up to 25 students can be offered online asynchronously or synchronously or both
  • Students can post questions about content material to an asynchronous discussion forum or ask questions in real time in an online synchronous session
  • It is recommended that discussion sections of more than 25 students be offered online asynchronously

Solving Equations and Problems

  • Discussion sections in which instructors help students solve equations or problems can be offered online synchronously, but it is recommended that all sessions be recorded, and an online asynchronous discussion forum also be provided
  • Small group problem-solving can be completed asynchronously or synchronously at the groups’ discretion

Studio and Performance-Based Courses

Solo Performances or Skill Demonstration

  • Students can submit digital recordings to Canvas of solo dance and musical performances
  • Students can deliver speeches and presentations online synchronously if the primary goal of the activity is for students to perform in real time

Collaborative Performances

  • Students in groups of 2-4 can enact spoken and visual performances in real time in an online synchronous session; musical performances of any size as well as collaborative performances with more than 5 students cannot be facilitated in an online synchronous session

Student-Created Work in Art and Design

  • Students can capture images (for 2D objects) or record videos (for 3D objects) of student-created work
  • Students who lack access to required materials, equipment, and studio space will be limited in their ability to participate in the course

Critiques in Art and Design

  • Student-created work can be captured or recorded and distributed online for other students to critique asynchronously
  • Instructors can facilitate discussions in art and design online synchronously, but it is recommended that all sessions be recorded and an online asynchronous discussion forum also be provided

Seminars and Other Courses

Seminars with up to 25 Students

  • Discussions and small group activities can be offered online asynchronously or synchronously or both
  • It is recommended that instructors use social annotation tools to prepare students for online synchronous sessions

Discussion-Based Courses with More than 25 Students

  • It is recommended that discussions and small group activities be offered online asynchronously

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