Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Online Teaching

Online Teaching

DePaul offers a variety of instructional modalities so that students can take courses in the formats that work best for them. No matter what course modality you teach in, it is important to be intentional about how you structure your course, from the learning outcomes that students will master, to the assignments they will complete, to the ways that students will interact with one another and with you.

This page provides a variety of resources and guides to help you expand your online teaching skill set and improve the design of your online courses. This page covers:

At DePaul, supporting great teaching and creating transformative learning experiences are top priorities. This is just as true for online teaching as it is for teaching in a physical classroom. The suggestions on this page will help you create a rich experience for your students, including a high degree of personal engagement.

Documentation and Guides

Start here

Refer to these resources first.

It’s all too easy for students to feel disconnected from one another and their instructors in online environments. This can be particularly true in asynchronous classes where students and instructors do not see and hear from one another at the same time.

Research has shown that higher degrees of social presence are positively correlated with higher degrees of perceived learning and satisfaction. We also know from our own students that social presence is particularly important in their online learning experiences. In a survey completed by 1,586 DePaul undergraduate students in spring 2020, many students mentioned that their online learning experiences lacked the sense of connection, routine, and structure that they often rely on in face-to-face learning. The following list provides practical strategies to address these concerns:

  • Help students get to know you and each other. Introduce yourself and also ask students to introduce themselves in the beginning of the course. Share your professional background and experience, and if you feel comfortable, some personal information, in order to establish yourself not only as an expert but also as an authentic, approachable person.
  • Provide timely updates and check-ins. You can do this using a combination of email and news items in D2L. Many instructors record short videos for this purpose.
  • Assign low-stakes assignments early in the term. This allows you to verify student progress and provide students with feedback while there’s plenty of time for them to take action and improve.
  • Set clear expectations for response time. Let students know how quickly you respond to email and grade assignments.
  • Provide opportunities for real-time interaction. Offer optional synchronous sessions for students in fully asynchronous courses and hold virtual office hours over Zoom.
  • Use small-group discussion to increase student engagement. When leading synchronous sessions, consider using breakout rooms to give students opportunities to talk to each other about course content and build connections. In asynchronous courses, assign students to small groups to help keep Discussion forums manageable.
  • Consider establishing alternative communication spaces for students. Provide ways for students to connect with you and one another using a collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
  • Consider using multimedia-rich presentation and discussion tools. Tools such as VoiceThread or Flipgrid encourage audio/video-based asynchronous conversation as an alternative to text-heavy discussions in D2L.
  • Give feedback using video or audio. In D2L, you can record audio feedback using the Submissions tool or video-based feedback using Panopto.

Online lectures and discussions

There are a a number of ways to move your lectures and discussions online.

There are multiple ways to record video lectures, demonstrations, quick updates, etc. that students can watch on their own.

Zoom is a videoconferencing application that supports real-time interaction, screen sharing, and more.

While tools like Zoom can be useful for building community and replicating certain face-to-face experiences, over reliance on videoconferencing can negate some of the flexibility of online learning that is vital for students who work, care for family, or have other commitments. To consider how you might strike the right balance in your course design, review the resources below.

Assignments, quizzes and grades

D2L Request Forms

To help save time, use one of the forms below to request help with common D2L tasks:

  • Quiz Request Form - Draft your quiz using a template and submit it for an instructional technology specialist to place in your course.
  • Other D2L Requests - Copy course content, combine courses, request a course or add TAs. 
    • Tip: Do you have a D2L Sandbox to experiment with? Sandboxes allow you to experiment with D2L features in a course that does not have any students enrolled in it. If you don’t have one yet, request one by completing the course creation request form and put “D2L Sandbox” in the Course Name box.

Workshops and Training

  • Teaching Commons Workshops & Events - Browse professional development offerings from the Center for Teaching and Learning and its campus partners.
  • DePaul Online Teaching Series (DOTS) - An intensive, 40-hour faculty development program offered twice per year that prepares faculty to design, build, and facilitate successful online courses.
    • To provide a more flexible way for instructors to access the training, you can request access to a self-paced site in D2L that includes all the latest DOTS readings and videos.

Who to Contact for Support

  • Help Desk - DePaul’s Help Desk is your best point of contact if you have questions about D2L or other instructional technologies. If your issue requires ongoing support, they’ll loop in the appropriate staff based on your needs. 
  • One-on-One Appointments - If you’ve reviewed some of the guides on the Teaching Commons and need help with specific skills, you can make a one-on-one appointment with an instructional technology consultant using the link on this page. 
  • Instructional Designers - Each academic unit at DePaul has an assigned instructional designer (ID). If you’re moving a course online or have questions about how to design an online course, your ID can provide expert guidance. (Note that emailing helpdesk@depaul.edu is still the best starting point for urgent D2L questions.)