Online Course Management Best Practices (for Faculty)

This service is for faculty.

Managing classes online involves some of the same best practices you already use in face-to-face classes. Frequent communication, regular check-ins, feedback on activities, and quick response to questions help both face-to-face and online courses run smoothly.

Announcements and Messages

Staying in contact with students is extremely important when a course is being taught or attended remotely. Announcements are the best way to keep in contact because an archive of your announcements is saved in Canvas.

By default, students will be notified immediately via their St. Thomas email address when you post an announcement. Students (and faculty) are also able to add alternate means of receiving these notifications, such as getting a text message or email to a personal account.



Attendance in an online environment looks different than attendance in strictly face-to-face classes. In an online course, there is no differentiation between "seat time" and independent work. Instead, we design for learning time or academic activity.  Some of the activities your students may engage in that add up to expected hours of academic activity are:

  • reading required materials
  • watching required videos
  • participating in a Zoom session
  • taking a quiz
  • working on an assignment
  • participating in a discussion board
  • completing a group assignment

For financial aid purposes, we need to be able to track academic activity (in case of audit or a student drops your course). Your Canvas gradebook is the easiest place to track academic activity.  When students reply to discussions, submit assignments, and take quizzes the time and date of that activity is logged in Canvas.

Please note: simply logging into Canvas does not count as academic activity. Students must be actively participating in the course through submitting assignments, etc.


  • Communicate frequently using Announcements
  • Log in to the course regularly.
  • Respond to students within 24 hours on business days.
  • Give students notice if you won't be able to log in or respond for a longer period of time.
  • Hold virtual office hours via Zoom

Assessments and Activities

Monitor assignment submissions and discussions. When people are sick, quarantined, or stressed a quick reminder goes a long way to keeping instruction on track

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Article ID: 108219
Thu 5/21/20 8:12 AM
Tue 6/18/24 3:22 PM

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Co-create and implement online (digital) student learning supports such as orientations sites, student-focused technology resources, and success tools. Advocate for a connected, equitable, student digital experience. Work in partnership with stakeholders to develop and manage academic support success systems that incorporate digital tools and practices.