Best Practices for Virtual Teaching

Virtual courses can range from traditional on-ground style lectures using Zoom with minimal use of eLearn to a flipped classroom style course where the students watch video lectures and then come to class for discussions and activities, along with everything in between. In the spirit of academic integrity, the following are simply recommended best practices that those teaching virtual courses have developed for your use.

Preparing for Students

  • Complete eLearn Essentials training if you’re new to virtual teaching.
  • Add content to course from the model course, approved shell, or instructor created materials as applicable. 
  • Review all course materials and links from a student view. Fix or remove broken links.
  • Update and post your accessible syllabus.
  • Add your contact info and personalize your course.
  • Add/update course announcements.
  • Add Zoom class meeting dates in eLearn as applicable.
  • Check (and update if necessary) all open, close, and due dates as applicable.
  • Familiarize yourself with the weekly routine and major assignments.
  • Check the grade book. Ensure all assignments are listed and organized.
  • Compare your eLearn Classlist to Banner. Notify of discrepancies.
  • Initiate contact with students with information about eLearn, Zoom, testing/proctoring and course expectations for the first day of class. See example (here).

*Reminder, students do not get access to eLearn and eLearn email until 12:01am on the first day of class.

Maintaining Presence

  • Encourage proper Zoom and email etiquette.
  • Communicate (in class, content setup, via email, announcements, and/or discussions) to students an overview for the week.
  • Post and hold online office hours using video conferencing.
  • Respond to ALL email (course mail and VSCC email) within 48 hours (or sooner). This may exclude weekends, breaks, and holidays.
  • Grade assignments promptly and provide useful feedback.
  • Facilitate discussion boards as applicable:
    • Respond to some posts
    • Correct misconceptions
    • Ask probing questions
  • Use the Class Engagement tool to monitor student activity. Send individual emails regularly to offer help or kudos as needed.
  • Make notes about course updates that you’ve made or should make next semester. Send critical updates to the course developer immediately (if applicable).

Timely Highlights

Day 1

  • Communicate clear course expectations and procedures to students.
  • Send a welcome email to students. Explain how to get started.
  • Notify students of any exam testing/proctoring requirements.
  • Communicate support services that students have access to.
  • Submit Banner attendance reporting.
  • Set final grade calculation to be visible (release final grades).

Week 1, 2, & 3

  • Watch for late-adds and drops. Forward important emails to support services to them.
  • Check publisher website student login.
  • Attempt contact through alternate avenues if students have not engaged in the class.
  • Send Early Alerts to students who have not engaged in the class in Week 3.

Semester 40% Complete: Nearing Midterms

  • Remind students of mid-term exam parameters.
  • Send Early Alerts as necessary.

Semester 60% Complete: Just After Midterms

  • Communicate with at-risk students about withdrawal deadline.

Crossing the Finish Line

Semester 80%+ Complete

  • Remind students to complete course evaluations.
  • Remind students of final exam parameters, such as proctoring and important dates.
  • Send encouraging emails.
  • Send a farewell email. Wish students well in their future endeavors.
  • Post final grades in Banner by due date

Optional Additions to your Virtual Course:

  • Record your review of the syllabus and first-day information for late-adds.
  • Record your lectures and post them in your eLearn shell.
  • Consider using Zoom breakout rooms (or something similar) for small-group work/discussion.
  • Set up Zoom to use non-verbal feedback, polling, whiteboard, and breakout rooms to encourage student engagement.
  • Create and post mini-lectures (text or video based) to reinforce difficult course concepts.
  • Provide visual support to communicate objectives during class meetings to accommodate for technical difficulties.
  • Consider providing personal feedback to students throughout the semester – this can include sending kudos for student performance.
Print Article


Article ID: 118979
Thu 10/22/20 2:10 PM
Wed 6/28/23 7:12 AM

Related Articles (1)

These recommendations, developed by the VSCC Faculty Council, apply to both full-time and adjunct faculty members.