Instruction Preparation

We recommend that instructors review the following aspects in preparation for their courses, at least two weeks before the first day of class: 

Many of the teaching strategies we recommend will depend upon the type of classroom space scheduled for your course.  If you have any questions about the below information, please contact us at

  • Find out in which location your course is scheduled.
    • This information can be found by looking at the My Classes section of My ASU, under "View My Schedule".
      • If a physical classroom location is listed (e.g. DH 210), then this will be an "Immersion" (In-Person) class.
      • If a physical classroom is listed, along with "Internet-Hybrid", then this will be an "Immersion" (In-Person) class, that is partially held in the online environment.
      • If the location is "ASUSYNC", then this is a synchronous/live class and will be conducted entirely via Zoom.  Note, that this is still considered an "Immersion" course.
    • If you have any questions or concerns regarding the classroom assigned to your course, please contact Vesna Markovich (
  • Look at the physical space as soon as you can.
  • Look at the classroom technology and learn how it works.
  • Do you need additional technology capabilities for the class?

Regardless of the instruction mode, your courses will now rely heavily on technology.  There are many applications available that can foster the types of activities you typically use in your courses.  The SILC Instructional Support team ( would be happy to discuss ways in which these technologies can help foster learning in your classroom.

However, because of how many new things we are being asked to integrate in the upcoming semester, it is perfectly acceptable to focus on the technologies with which you already feel comfortable.  If you choose to focus solely on Canvas and Zoom, that is perfectly fine.

  • Update your Zoom Application (In general: Click on the Zoom application on your computer, then or your initials up in the top right corner of the application, then choose Check for Updates on the drop-down menu).

  • Determine what your Zoom Personal Meeting ID is (see video tutorial), if you don’t already have that information.  This is the room that your students will enter when they click the "Attend via Sync" button in "My Classes".

  • Review your Zoom settings to ensure you have enabled (or disabled) key security and learning features (see the following YouTube video on Zoom Advanced Features.).

  • Ensure you have a quality Internet connection at home as needed.

    • Consider getting an Ethernet cable and adapter for a direct connection rather than via Wi-Fi.

    • OR Consider moving your workspace closer to your Wi-Fi router and ensuring no one else is online when you are.

    • AND Consider contacting the ASU help desk with any questions about the quality of your home setup.
  • Use headphones to help filter out ambient background noise and reduce the chance of echos.

  • Determine what your backup plan will be if your Internet or Zoom connection goes down when you are scheduled to meet with students. (e.g. If the instructor does not show up after X minutes, students will do the following instead...)

Your syllabus is your contract with students, so ensuring that it is up to date with university policies and language that sets expectations for video conferencing will help ensure you have a smooth semester.

  • Make it clear that you expect students to bring a mobile device (laptop, iPad/Chromebook, smartphone) with them to class.  A laptop is the recommended device.

    • If they do not have one of these devices, they can request one from the ASU library.

  • Add your personal Zoom link to your syllabus. 

  • Add ASU Sync language to your syllabus if you are teaching an in-person or hybrid course that will be meeting in the physical classroom.

  • In your Expected Classroom Behavior section, add a few sentences about expected behavior during video conferencing meetings.  

  • In your Copyrighted Materials section, make sure that you have some text similar to the following: “All content in this course, including video lectures/meetings, presentations, assignments, discussions, quizzes, and exams is protected by copyright and may not be shared, uploaded, sold, or distributed.  Any recording of class sessions by students is prohibited, except as part of an accommodation approved by the Disability Resource Center.”

  • You should have a Communications/Technology section that outlines the expectation that students use their ASU email for communicating, what technologies they will need for this course, how to access language tutoring through LSS, and who to contact for technical assistance.

  • You should also have the following university policy sections in your syllabus: Absences, Academic Integrity, Accommodating Students with Disabilities, Expected Classroom Behavior, Policy Against Threatening Behavior, Reporting Title IX Violations, Policy on Sexual Discrimination, Copyrighted Materials, Syllabus Disclaimer.

See the following SILC Syllabus Template for the most up-to-date policy language.

Canvas provides the main place for students to go to for information and expectations, it makes turning in assignments easier and more efficient, and if for some reason ASU needs us to return to an ASU Sync Only (remote) teaching model, you will already have everything set up.

  • Request a Canvas course shell (see the step-by-step guide).

  • In your Canvas course, create a new Page (see the Canvas New Page tutorial).

    • Your Homepage should minimally include:

      • A short course description.

      • An instructor image with contact Info (including Zoom link) and brief bio.

      • A video that shows how students can navigate Canvas.  If you have any questions about this, please contact us at

      • A “getting started” section with 1-3 things they should do before anything else.

      • And for Fall 2020, a description of how your course will be meeting throughout the semester.

    • Click on the link to view a template of a generic SILC Online Course.

  • Once you have created a new page for your home page, you will need to designate it as the “front page” for your course (see the Canvas Setting a Front Page tutorial).

    • If you automatically see that page when you open the course, you are done.

    • If you don’t see it, you will need to also tell Canvas that you want to use a Front Page as your HomePage (see the Canvas Changing Your Course Home Page tutorial).

  • Embed your most up-to-date syllabus on the Syllabus page (see the Embedding Your Syllabus in Canvas Instruction Guide).

  • Customize the course Navigation (see the Canvas Course Navigation tutorial)

    • Hide any of the navigation links that you don’t want students to have access to (e.g. They don’t need access to both modules and assignments.  Usually all they need is Home, Announcements, Syllabus, Modules, and Grades).

Oftentimes when you are assigned a course to teach, your Canvas course will have been copied from an older version of the course. While this helps maintain consistent content is being taught over the various sections and sessions, it may also mean that the grading elements outlined in your syllabus may not reflect what is actually built on Canvas. If you are building a brand new course, Canvas has certain grading defaults that also may not reflect the grading elements from your syllabus.  This could mean that you are telling students that they will earn a certain letter grade based on one range of percentages while Canvas is actually identifying those grades in a completely different way.  This could be extremely problematic.  Therefore, you should always verify that the grading elements in your syllabus and on Canvas match.

1. Check your Grading Scheme

2. Check your Assignment Grading Categories and Weights

  • Ensure that the assignment categories and percentages listed on your syllabus are the same as what is listed in the Canvas Assignments page (see the UTO How to Weight Grades video).

  • Review your syllabus to ensure that assignment categories will make sense to students and will be effective ways to demonstrate what they have learned.

    • Typically there should be 4-6 assignment categories.

    • Each category should be assigned a percentage to add up to 100%.

    • The Canvas default category called “Assignments” will need to be changed. Even if you change its weight to 0%, students will still see the category, so it is best to either rename it or delete it together.

    • Every assignment that is assigned points should be moved into one of your weighted categories, even the “welcome” assignments like a syllabus knowledge check or academic integrity agreement. If you don’t, those points will not go towards students’ overall grades.

    • Attendance should not be one of your assignment categories, but you can include participation (see Methods of Measuring Participation).

3. Consider customizing your Canvas Gradebook

  • Ensure that you have the New Gradebook enabled in Canvas and that you understand how to access the SpeedGrader feature (which will really help your grading be more efficient (see the UTO New Gradebook and SpeedGrader video).

  • Customize the Gradebook Total Column as needed (see the Canvas Total Column tutorial).