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COVID-19: Message to Faculty - Supporting Your Transition to Online Teaching

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University of Denver

Planning for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

News  •

Dear faculty,

I understand that the impact of the news that spring term is moving fully online is substantial. I recognize that you are the primary lifters on this shift that is critical for the health and safety of our community. How we manage this shift is also vital for the health of our programs and our institution.

Some faculty who have not yet started spring term have asked about delaying the spring start. I understand and appreciate the long and unexpected hours that an on-time start presents. While we explored this option, we determined that the negative financial consequences to students on federal financial aid would be too great. Beginning the spring quarter on time is the only viable option to maintain students’ financial aid support essential for them to meet their basic needs. I expect that we will begin week one by ensuring stable and clear communication with students via online platforms so that in the weeks that follow the course content will be better received. Please also note that a small number of courses will have a staggered start and compressed schedule.

Effective immediately, I am increasing resources to support faculty to develop quality online courses. The Provost’s Office, Office of Teaching and Learning, and University College have partnered to support you and arranged for outside instructional design consultants to help support faculty prepare excellent online course content quickly. As a reminder, there are a plethora of asynchronous online resources available to you: Resources for teaching at a distance, Zoom, Kaltura, and Canvas.

New Resources for Instructional Support

If you would like some individualized help with moving your courses online, we have four options to get you started:

  1. Come to Coffee Talk with the Office of Teaching and Learning and Your Colleagues
    Wednesday, March 18th: 12:00-1:00pm MST
    Thursday, March 19th 12:00-1:00pm MST
    Friday, March 20th 12:00-1:00pm MST

    This is a virtual coffee shop meet up to address your pressing teaching issues.

    Wondering where to start with tackling your course preparations, come brainstorm with colleagues and OTL, IT, and faculty representatives. Missing your morning coffee shop and wanting to talk to colleagues about collegiality in a virtual world? Stop by. Looking for other Luddites unfamiliar with Zoom? Come learn. This is a collegial coffee talk to help get you started and stay connected.

    Join URL--click this link at the time/day you want to attend:
  2. Submit a ticket here for more help to reach out to our wider network of IT specialists, instructional designers, and other colleagues who have stepped up to help during this time with Canvas, Zoom (use for meetings or virtual class), Kaltura (pre-record your lectures), or general online pedagogy. These experts can help answer your particular questions and support your particular instructional design needs. This system will provide primarily “offline” help in the form of directing you to resources and communicating by email.
  3. Schedule a 1:1 here. We are launching a scheduling system where you will be able to schedule personalized help with the OTL and our faculty peer network. If you would like “face-to-face” support in the age of social distancing, make a 1:1 appointment and we can help you via Zoom. As faculty needs become clearer and our new system moves to full capacity, we plan to expand options and offerings.
  4. Designate a Secondary Instructor Please work with your chair to designate a second instructor in your Canvas course. This will prevent unnecessary delays should you be unable to access your course for any reason.

    Please be understanding and patient as we work to create a system that best serves all our colleagues and their varied needs. If you have a suggestion, resource or concern, please let me know at

Grab-and-Go Canvas Container

University College has generously provided a Canvas template that can be imported by any faculty member. Rather than creating your own week-by-week module, this template has already-created modules and sample assignments. Use the template as a starting point and upload your own material. If you’re not sure if you’d like to adopt it, you can: Preview the Basic Template for Moving Courses Online.

University College has also coordinated a page of student resources. We are making this available on a new page for students on the OTL website that will be available shortly. Each Canvas template will include this information which you can see here: Preview just the DU Online Student Resources.

If you would like to use either of these as a starting place in Canvas, you may choose to import either (or both) by following the instructions here.

Zoom & Kaltura

For many at our university, online education will be a new experience. To minimize the difficulty of navigating the technical environment we strongly encourage faculty to use standard software already licensed to the university. Applications like Canvas (learning management), Kaltura (video), Zoom (on-line communication) and Microsoft Teams (coordinated communication for teams) are all licensed with contracts that protect student privacy. They are also easy to use, and if we stay with these standards it will be easier for faculty and students to work together in a common set of tools throughout the university. For more information on these resources please visit the IT@DU page on working remotely.

Beginning Saturday, March 21st, Zoom and Kaltura will be available as default tools in all of your courses. As part of this change, a new Zoom-Canvas plugin will be implemented for all Canvas course containers. To learn more about using Zoom within your Canvas course and the new features of the upgraded Zoom-Canvas plugin, visit Using ZOOM in Your Canvas Course.

We are fortunate that we can rely on video to continue teaching and learning in these uncertain times, but we ask that all DU community members respect one another’s privacy and intellectual property by only recording one another with permission, and only sharing recordings to meet the immediate needs of the course or assignment. Do not share recordings of one another publicly, or with others outside the immediate needs of the assignment or course, without permission. You may also want to explicitly prohibit students from recording or distributing your course materials. Please see example syllabi statements here.

All videos without copyright issues have already been transferred from DU Coursemedia to Kaltura. If you need additional help with Kaltura, contact:

Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Teaching

Synchronous communication is live, for example using Zoom for real time classes. Asynchronous is not live, for example pre-recorded lectures or discussion threads. Some of the challenges as we all move forward with online teaching are differential access to the internet, internet speed, computer sharing, access to quiet space and working across time zones. While synchronous online teaching has many advantages, providing asynchronous options increases equity and inclusion. One option is to provide synchronous teaching and record it for asynchronous learning. We are working on faculty resources for navigating different forms of synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning. If you choose synchronous delivery, you should follow the published time in the schedule of courses for your class (MST).

Faculty & Student Technological & Software Needs

I am aware that some of our students and faculty might have limited access to high-speed internet and appropriate computers to be successful in a completely online learning environment.

For faculty who have specific technology needs for teaching as a result of our move to online teaching, please submit a ticket here.

I have asked for those students who anticipate these technology challenges with online coursework to please contact my office (, and we will work with them to find the appropriate solutions. As you develop your course materials, remember that Canvas and Zoom have good functionality on mobile devices. This will help all of our students, and particularly those students that might experience these technology challenges. Our IT colleagues are currently working on a number of options to provide support.

Teams Working on Curricular Needs

Last week we created small teams of deans and dean’s office representatives and faculty to work together to brainstorm solutions to anticipated educational challenges in the online environment--experiential courses (including labs, music, theater, and art), internships/field placements, and clinics.

Nearly all our training clinics are continuing to provide services, although they are transitioning into telehealth formats. The goal is to continue meeting community needs during a stressful time and to support our student training. This transition has required getting clinic systems and processes up to speed to allow appropriate client consent, confidential communication with clients, and compliant recording for supervision and training purposes. If you or your students have questions about how their clinical work may change, they should reach out to the clinic director who is working diligently to get their clinic up to speed.

Experiential Education
The experiential learning team is tasked to identify strategies to help faculty develop and deliver high-quality materials for our experiential learning courses (i.e., studio art, science and engineering laboratories, theatre, and music performance.) As we move forward with these strategies, we will share some examples of best practices from our community.

Internships/Field Placements
Each graduate program is following national accreditation and licensure guidance, along with following public health guidelines, to ensure that students progress in their learning while they remain safe. The faculty internship directors of these programs are meeting this week to develop and share strategies and options.

Student Resources

We realize students will need all manner of support as they transition to full-time online learning environment. Many people are mobilizing to support learning, social, and other needs. The Office of Teaching and Learning is building a student resource page which will be launched shortly to curate learning resources for students.

Faculty Volunteers

If you are able to provide support for others in transitioning to online teaching, please email with what type of assistance you are able to provide.

Reminder on Qualtrics Survey

Please complete this short survey on your online readiness. Incoming responses are monitored daily and OTL staff reach out with assistance. Please complete the survey here if you haven’t already. Understanding the needs in our community will help us be agile in meeting them. If you have already completed the survey there is no need to do it a second time.

Many of us have already begun regularly meeting via zoom and other technology. While it is important to limit physical contact with other people, it is also important to maintain real intellectual, psychological and emotional ties. As many of you know, the research is clear that social media does not accomplish this and in fact aggravates feelings of isolation. Pick up the phone, zoom with video. Reach out to each other. Virtual happy hours, virtual exercise classes, even just an old-fashioned phone call can reconnect us in these isolating times. I know our relationships and our communities are so much of what we love about our work. We don’t have to lose those. We hope the tools above help us to stay connected to our students and to one another.

Thinking of each of you in these challenging times, and let’s keep our sense of humor.


Dr. Corinne Lengsfeld
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor