Strategies & Technologies

Hold Synchronous Online Sessions

Microsoft Teams (Canvas or Blackboard)

This video conferencing tool integrates with Canvas and is also available to use in Blackboard. Teams is the official video conferencing tool for Canvas. More information about this exciting integration can be found on the MS Teams for Academics Support website.

Collaborate Ultra (Blackboard Only)

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra helps to connect with your class in real-time. The following materials demonstrate how to add Collaborate Ultra to your existing Blackboard course, facilitate a Collaborate Ultra session, present materials from your screen and talk live (online) with your students.

Engaging with Students through Synchronous Course Content 

To encourage students to engage with the synchronous course content, see additional resources below. 

Discussion or Group Work
Interrupted Lectures

Pause during your lecture to ask a question, give a poll, or ask students to answer a prompt.

Kaltura or Presentation Software
Partial Outlines or PowerPoint Slides

Partial Outlines/PPTs provided for lecture - Create a set of class notes with blanks for important information. Encourage students to fill in the blanks during the class session.


Use polling through classroom response systems and share results with the class. Alternatively use systems such as Plickers or raised hands.

Pose Questions

Pose a question to be answered by small groups (3-5 students).

  • Could use a Blackboard Collaborate Ultra breakout room and/or Google doc to help with communication.
  • Could send pairs out of class for easier socially distanced discussion elsewhere on campus with set return time, have discussion outside of class time and report during class or outside of class.
  • Using headphones/microphones to communicate on various online platforms may help with excessive noise.
Questions and Answers
Small Discussion Groups

Break students into groups of 3-5. 

Small discussion group techniques can also work for your asynchronous class through the use of Collaborate Breakout rooms. 

Think, Pair, Share

A short activity where the instructor poses a question, students think about their responses then pair with someone near them to discuss their thinking before sharing out to the class.

Wait Time

Wait time refers to two specific practices where instructors deliberately pause. First, wait time 1 constitutes a 3-5 second pause between asking a question and soliciting an answer. Second, wait time 2 is a 3-5 second pause after a student response. This time provides students with time to think about the question and develop a response, either to the instructor’s question or a peer’s response.

Create Asynchronous Assignments

Asynchronous courses use technologies to deliver digital content and to facilitate regular and substantive interactions between students and their instructor while allowing for more flexibility in scheduling. The minimal expectation of instructors/student interaction should be analogous to the number of instructors/student interactions that take place during the course when it is delivered in a synchronous environment (i.e., “face-to-face”).

Asynchronous course delivery (students do not need to participate online at the same time) is one option instructors may implement in an online platform. Content may be delivered in multiple digital formats, and tools are available within Canvas and Blackboard, which allow the instructor to engage and interact with students throughout the course schedule.

Engaging with Students through Asynchronous Course Content 

Whether in a physical or virtual classroom, students can benefit from their collaboration with their peers. Here are a few techniques and tools for helping students collaborate in an asynchronous classroom. 

Active Learning
Collaborative Work
Creating Presence and Community
Discussion Threads/Forums

A discussion forum, or discussion board, is an online location for asynchronous written communication. As participants post messages containing their original thoughts as well as responses to posts from other class members, a threaded written dialogue develops.


Encouraging interactions between students is also important in an asynchronous class. You can use the following tools in your Blackboard course to allow students to work in a small group with collaborative tools. 

Even though there are no set times for classroom lectures, you can still encourage students to meet with each other in a synchronous setting and you can also use these tools to interact with one-on-one or in small groups with students (while remaining cognizant that synchronous meeting times cannot be arbitrary set, but, instead, mutually agreed upon).

Think, Pair, Share is a technique that you may have employed in your classroom, which encourages students to think through problems (analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing) while work in pairs for a set amount of time so that they can share their results with the class.

In an online, asynchronous class, you can pose one or multiple questions in a discussion forum with the instruction that each group of students will post their synthesized answers to the discussion forum after first working in pairs to analyze and evaluate the question.

Mastering Teaching Presence
Providing Feedback and Grading

Stream Live Classroom Lectures

Here is a quick video that provides an overview of the technology in the classroom.

Each traditional / lecture-oriented instructional space will be equipped with the following: 

Instructor Station Computer

While there will not be a standard model computer in all instructional spaces throughout the university, all instructor station computers will be less than four years old. 

Lumens DC-125 High-Definition Portable Camera

Lumens DC-125 High-Definition Portable CameraThis camera is on a flexible stand so it can act as a document camera or a webcam, allowing instructors the flexibility of showing documents, objects, or themselves to their remote students. Audio Technica ATR4650-USB Computer Microphone

Audio Technica ATR4650-USB Computer MicrophoneClearly picks up audio for up to 25 feet, allowing instructors ample room to move without losing their remote students.

Using Classroom Equipment

Used in combination with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra* (Blackboard Only) or Microsoft Teams (Canvas or Blackboard), this equipment will allow in-person instructors to do the following:

  • Broadcast their class in real-time to students who cannot be physically present
  • Record their class for later viewing by those who are not able to view it in real-time

Using the Camera and Microphone with Microsoft Teams (PDF) 

Using the Camera and Microphone with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (PDF)

Note: You may need to turn off your email, chat, and other pop-up notifications while using Collaborate Ultra and/or Microsoft Teams. Find instructions here: Windows | Mac.  

*Please be sure that you are using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and not Blackboard Collaborate. Blackboard Collaborate will be decommissioned later this year.

Post Class Materials

Our learning management systems (Canvas and Blackboardprovide a space to organize and share access to class readings, web links, documents, and other resources to support your class.

Posting Materials to Canvas

Posting Materials to Blackboard

Create Assignments

Our learning management systems (Canvas and Blackboard) allow you to collect, manage, grade, and provide feedback on assignments for your students separately or in groups. 

Creating Assignments in Canvas

Creating Assignments in Blackboard

Virtual Office Hours

Office hours remain an important element in the student-instructor relationship. Review the following options for virtual office hours.

Strategies for Holding Virtual Office Hours:

  • Clearly establish a time for virtual office hours
  • Decide what kind of communication tools you will use
  • Set a policy for when students should expect a response when using asynchronous tools 
  • Utilize video capabilities 

Interact & Engage

Instructors should consider students' needs for interaction, feedback, and engagement when evaluating various instructional methods. 

Access to Technology

Be prepared to assist students who may not have access to the preferred or required technology requirements. This may include options such as directing them to university/college/department resources or providing alternative means for students to meet the learning objectives of your course.

Have A Student that has Tech Needs?

The University has provided funds for students in need of technology thru the emergency grant fund. Please direct students to the COVID-19 Emergency Resources page.

Clear and Regular Communication

Clear and regular communication is more important than ever for conveying information and expectations that are critical for student success. Instructors should contact students with information about technology requirements, any scheduling modifications, and what kind of learning experience they can expect in the course as soon as possible.

Consider Each Modality

Carefully consider what is best conveyed in each modality (synchronous vs asynchronous). Ask questions such as:

  • Would students benefit from getting this information in small “chunks” that can be viewed multiple times?
  • Is it essential that all students are introduced to this information simultaneously?
  • Is the presentation of information interspersed with opportunities to engage (discuss, apply, reflect, etc)?
  • Is the interaction between students in real-time important (group work, projects)?
Effective Use of Technology

Student learning can be greatly enhanced through the effective use of technology. As you consider the uses of various technologies, keep in mind that there is a learning curve for both you and your students. Introduce any new technologies one at a time, with sufficient time to practice skills before attaching high-stakes assessments to these technologies.

  • For example, if you are using proctored testing, offer a low-stakes/no-stakes quiz for students to become familiar with the technology.
Internet Access Issues

Recognize that internet access issues will occur for everyone—including instructors. These may be a transient or momentary loss of video or audio, or they may be persistent. Consider making recordings of all or part of your synchronous class sessions available to students, perhaps even on a temporary basis. Instructors may want to consider including a statement related to instructor outages in the syllabus. For example, if the instructor loses internet connection, students are expected to remain connected for 10 minutes before leaving the remote session.

Make the Learning Experience Personal

Make the learning experience as personal as possible in order to create a sense of community. This may include using video (instructor and students on-screen). Keep in mind that there are many legitimate reasons that you and/or your students may be reluctant to share videos. Alternatively, instructors and students may wish to use still photos or image avatars to express their individual identities. It is also possible to use custom virtual backgrounds in live-streaming platforms.

Student Engagement and Participation

Student engagement and participation can be more difficult to establish during remote instruction, particularly if you cannot “see” all students and gauge their participation in the course. Furthermore, students may be unable to attend a synchronous session if they experience internet access issues. There are multiple ways to engage students and address attendance concerns including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Polling students
  • Asking students to post in the chat
  • Having students move themselves to specified breakout rooms
  • Asking students to answer discussion questions (by raising their hands to contribute or by posting in the chat window)
  • Individual or collaborative work that results in a product (see below for further interactive work options)
  • Reviewing attendance records of streaming sessions (Blackboard provides a log of who has been logged on/length of time as well as recordings of course sessions and the chat window if selected).
  • Requiring students who were unable to connect to view recordings and either summarize or answer specific questions about the missed session
  • Carefully consider students’ needs for specific materials, such as those required in studios courses. Given the difficulty students may have in acquiring these materials, instructors may want to prepare individual kits to be mailed or distributed to students, budget permitting.
Use the Kent State Online Template

DL support staff are available to assist faculty interested in deploying the Kent State Online template (KSOT) in their online course. The Kent State Online template is designed to help faculty build an online course and create a high-quality learning experience for students, quickly and easily. The template comes pre-loaded with a standard course structure as well as placeholders for course content that can be customized.