Week 2: Canvas

By July 24, 2020April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Smeal Academy: Fall 2020 Readiness – Week 2

The goal of the Smeal Academy is to equip everyone with best practices and strategies for teaching, learning, and technology to ensure the Smeal community is prepared to respond to the unique challenges of Fall 2020.Between now and the end of July, we will be sending weekly emails with practical tips and information, providing live sessions, and holding virtual consultations.

This week, we share resources that can help you organize your Canvas learning spaces. This will be especially important for the majority of courses that will not be able to meet in person for all or most of their sessions. Designing a course with an organized structure, clear and consistent instructions, leveraging integrated tools, will reduce the number of student emails from students seeking clarification about course tasks and assignments.

Current News

All Smeal Faculty received an email from Matt Mooney describing four instructional modes for Fall. If you need help deciding which mode will be best for you, please feel free to log into one of our upcoming virtual consultations (see below) or by emailing the eLDIG team at: smealtlthelp@psu.edu.

Instructional Modes – Rooms Assigned

In Person Mode will still require an accommodation to be made for the students that are notable to attend the face-to-face instruction through synchronous Zoom connections or asynchronous instruction. Given the limited number of classrooms that can accommodate more than 18-20 students at a time, a number of Smeal courses would not be able to select this model. To put this into perspective, the Auditorium in the Business Building (BB110) has 150 seats but can only hold 28 students as a result of social distancing (SD) requirements, the Forum Classroom has 357 seats with a SD capacity of 64, and 100 Thomas has 726 seats with a SD capacity of 130.

Mixed Mode is recommended for courses with small enrollments such as smaller graduate-level or upper division courses. Even in the best of circumstances, most of these courses will still need to rotate a portion of the students in and out of the classroom to accommodate social distancing. Faculty will still need to make accommodations for the students that are not able to attend the face-to-face instruction.

Instructional Modes – Rooms Not Assigned

Remote Synchronous is our recommended approach for the majority of Smeal courses. From a logistical perspective, this mode provides the flexibility of synchronous instruction while still allowing for aspects of asynchronous instruction to be included. It puts both faculty and students in the same instructional environment. This allows for a faculty member to share their screen or provided a “lightboard” or whiteboard recording of examples, faculty/student interaction, real-time Q&A, and so on. I realize this still requires modification of your instructional approach compared to In-Person or Mixed Mode, but the management of some face-to-face students, some Zoom students, and some watching a recording seems a lot more labor intensive and the quality of audio (while wearing a mask) and video (a camera pointed at the podium, not the whiteboard) for the portion of students learning remotely would be a lower quality learning opportunity.

Remote Asynchronous has two major limitations. First, if you select this mode, you no longer have a scheduled class meeting time. Any synchronous instruction must be optional as students could be scheduled for another class or have other obligations (e.g., work, family, and so on) at the time you select. Additionally, this requires a fully developed online course which is much more involved than would be required for the Remote Synchronous mode.

Helpful Websites

Upcoming Live Sessions

  • Canvas Basics
  • Office 365 isn’t just Office Suite: Get the most out of your Office 365 subscription with a deep dive into some new features from Microsoft. Join us Wednesday, July 8 atfrom10-11AM via Zoom.

NOTE: Recordings and resources from previous sessions can be found on our eLDIG Website.

Tips of the Week

Tip #1: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel! Consider using LinkedIn Learning and other third-party videos instead of recording everything on your own.Tip #2: Check out the eLDIG Canvas courses with Lesson Templates and Teaching Tips (If you receive an access denied error, please email SmealTLT Help and we will add you to these courses):


Ask eLDIG/RIIT – Open Consultations

Zoom Hours:

  • Thursday, July 9, 1 to 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 16, 10 to 11 a.m.
  • More to be announced


Check out the eLDIG website for more resources and support.

Contact Us

Email us at: course-support@smeal.psu.edu or fill out our Remote Teaching Support form.