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Online Success: Plan and Prepare


As the situation continues to evolve locally and nationally, we can anticipate further disruption. It will be essential that we design our courses to accommodate for that uncertainty including the use of soft deadlines, combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, multiple pathways in some assignments, alternative assessments, use of open source materials, and possibly platforms outside of eCampus. As disruptive as these changes may be for faculty, remember that students will be coping with changes across 5-6 courses. Please do your best to provide a good experience for your students without structuring the course in a way that may be perceived as punitive because the material had to be pushed online.

Take some time to plan and prepare your materials. The following steps can put you in an organized and thoughtful direction before teaching online.

Step 1: Analyze your students

One huge advantage that you have in transitioning your course online is that you already know and have a relationship with the students in your classes. Consider their backgrounds and needs as you spend time reflecting on their technical proficiency and access as well as their progress to this point.

A Note About Academic Integrity in Online Contexts

As WVU prepares to temporarily suspend in-person classes and move to alternative forms of instruction, you will likely have questions about protecting and promoting academic integrity online. The academic integrity website will address some of the more common questions that arise, and will be continually updated with new information.

Step 2: State your objectives

This is also a good time to revisit your course learning objectives. Consider how you were previously meeting your course objectives and determine how students will be able to meet those objectives at a distance.

Step 3: Select method, media, and materials

Remember, we are most of the way through the semester. You have likely already planned out your course from class session to class session.

Start with your current syllabus and take what you were going to cover after Spring Break and think of presenting that content in one-week chunks. Be creative and appreciate that many of your existent course materials can be repurposed for use online.

When deciding what to include, focus on the most critical items for students to reach learning outcomes. It will be important to provide an updated and revised version of the course syllabus to your students as soon as possible. We want to be completely transparent with all course changes and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions.

For each week, you may wish to create a list of action items (To Read, To View, To Do) that answer the following questions as they apply to your class. Given the fluidity of the situation, week-by-week planning makes the most sense. Be prepared for additional changes as circumstances continue to evolve.

What do you want your students to read or view?

For the weeks we have left, what materials (videos, articles, text chapters, files/pages, lectures) do you want to share with your students? Keep in mind, you have likely already identified many of these content items in your face-to-face course planning.

What do you want your students to do?

  • What are your assignments?
  • What are your activities?
  • What are your discussions?
  • What are your quizzes or tests?

Later, this list of action items can be shared with students in the form of weekly announcements and reminders.

Step 4: Utilize Media and Materials

A note about academic accommodations

Read the online class transition announcement from the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS) if you have received an official accommodation authorization letter indicating that a student in your class receives accommodations. If you have questions about the implementation of a student’s academic accommodations in the online classroom, or if you need assistance, please contact Jason Kapcala ( at the Office of Accessibility Services or call 304-293-0458.

Access eCampus

After the announcement that course shells are available, log in to eCampus using WVU Login credentials and verify that course/s you teach are available. If you forgot the password or need to activate your Login credentials, please go to

Access your “shell” in eCampus

The Teaching and Learning Commons will be providing a streamlined eCampus template, which instructors can request to start their course shell with ONLY the recommended tools added. Instructions to request this template will be available on the TLC site soon.

Create your "To Read/To View" Content Items

Take your identified materials (videos, articles, text chapters, files/pages, lectures) and decide how you wish to share them with your students.

Keep in mind that many (perhaps half) of your students will not have reliable internet connections. Consider that as you make your decisions on delivery.

Remain open to the use of technologies and open source content outside of eCampus. While the decision to deliver content synchronously or asynchronously is up the instructor, please plan on recording any lecture sessions so that students can access after delivery as well. Many will be operating under different schedules in comparison to their routine in-campus.

Check out the tools below and their associated help links to help you decide how to deliver your content.

Synchronous Lecture Tools

Collaborate Ultra allows you and your students to connect live, via audio and video, as well as share presentation content. You can also record a session without students present and archive it to your course for students to watch at another time. Learn about Collaborate Ultra.

Zoom is a real-time option for video conferencing, online meetings, and collaboration. You can record your Zoom sessions for later viewing. Learn more about Zoom.

Google Hangouts brings conversations to life with photos, emoji, and even group video calls for free. Use Hangouts to keep in touch. Message friends, start free video or voice calls, and hop on a conversation with one person or a group.

Asynchronous Lecture Tools

VoiceThread enables you to upload images, video, or documents, record audio, video, or text comments, and then invite others to record comments in your course. Learn more about VoiceThread .

Mediasite allows you to pre-record a lecture and share it to your eCampus course shell. You can record your desktop, your webcam, and upload your PowerPoint. Documentation on the latest version of Mediasite is forthcoming, therefore, we ask you to wait until this message is updated to begin using this tool.


YouTube is where you can put your videos and link to them from eCampus. It is essential that you do not upload videos directly to eCampus. Learn how to upload videos to YouTube .

Readings from external sources or from WVU Libraries

Copy the link you wish to use (external web site or a permanent link from a WVU Library article) and add a web link to your eCampus course. Learn about adding a web link to your eCampus course .


Upload files to Google Drive and link from eCampus (using web link directions above). These can be copyright-free readings, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Learn about uploading files to Google Drive .

Organize Content

Organize content by the week by creating Learning Modules. Learn how to create Learning Modules in eCampus .


Announcements are an excellent tool to keep in touch with your students all at once. Learn more about how to Create an Announcement in eCampus .


Create Assignments in eCampus. Learn more about how to Create Assignments in eCampus .


Learn eCampus Tips for Instructors and Students: Discussion board forums and threads.

Quizzes or Tests

Learn about Creating a test in eCampus. Follow Best Practices for Tests in eCampus .

Step 5: Require student participation

All online courses should include student-content, student-faculty, and student-student interaction and participation. Remember, participation does not mean that it has to be "live" or synchronous. For example, students can participate in their learning process through reading and reflecting and responding to other student reflections. You can offer offer opportunities for the students to interact and participate with each other on class or general topics. Consider participating in one or more of the training opportunities from CPASS or the TLC to learn more about ways to involve the student in the learning process.

Step 6: Evaluate and review

Don't be afraid to experiment and take informed risks with your course design. View this as an opportunity to expand your instructional tool-kit by learning a new technology or skill. Try something new, evaluate it, adjust as needed.

Now that the planning is complete, it's time for delivery and teaching.

Some of the content in this document is adapted from Penn State University’s Dutton Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.