Week 9: COVID-19 Course Adjustments

By August 14, 2020April 5th, 2024Smeal Academy Newsletter

Smeal Academy: Fall 2020 Readiness – Week 9

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 beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, we will be sending weekly emails with practical tips and information, providing live sessions, and holding virtual consultations.

This week we share resources and strategies that will help ensure your course syllabi reflect the Fall 2020 changes and that you have the resources to best equip you to teach in your selected instructional mode(s). Following is a list of videos and websites that provide teaching strategies based on your instructional mode(s):

In-Person Resources

There are several helpful resources on the In-Person Instruction page on the University’s Keep Teaching Website, including a number of COVID-related FAQs.

Mixed Mode Resources

The Mixed Mode Instruction page on the University’s Keep Teaching Website includes guidelines and resources for enhancing your teaching. There are also mixed mode teaching demonstration videos available:

Remote Synchronous Resources

The Remote Synchronous Mode Instruction page on the University’s Keep Teaching Website includes guidelines and resources for enhancing your teaching. There are also remote synchronous teaching demonstration videos available:

Remote Asynchronous Resources

The Remote Asynchronous Instruction page on the University’s Keep Teaching Website includes guidelines and recommendations as well as resources for enhancing your teaching.


Current News

Faculty Senate Suggested Syllabus Language

The Faculty Senate has posted suggested syllabus language for 2020-2021 related to mask-wearing and webcam use that you can copy, paste, and customize for your syllabi.

COVID Schedule Tool Information

The COVID Schedule Tool is intended to communicate the course instructional mode and other important details with students via a “COVID Schedule” page in Canvas. Faculty must customize the top portion of this page to communicate specific course details, including the instructional mode.

The “Groups” tab in the COVID Schedule Tool can be used to create and display custom student groups (e.g. rotation schedule for face-to-face and remote attendance).


  1. Students will not receive a notification of any changes in the COVID Schedule Tool. It is recommended to create a Canvas announcement to notify students of any changes to course meeting procedures.
  2. Only use the Groups tab if you have students rotating face-to-face and online for attendance purposes.

Upcoming Live Sessions

  • You Got This – Prepping Your Course for the New Normal: This session will review strategies for your first week, orientation tips and tricks, academic integrity/online honor code resources, course communication, and Canvas navigation considerations to ensure a successful course launch. Join us Wednesday, August 12 from 10 to 11 a.m. via Zoom.
  • Engaging Students Through Assessment (A session designed as a collaboration between TLT and eLDIG): How can you engage your students through online assessments (both formative and summative)? This session covers the changes you can make to your assessments to take advantage of the online environment. Topics include setting expectations for online assessments, managing student stress levels, determining the most effective delivery method in your teaching context, adapting both formative and summative assessments from in-person to online formats, and alternatives to online exams. Join us Wednesday, August 19 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. via Zoom.

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

Tips of the Week

Tip #1:  Ask a TA, friend, or colleague to review your course before you publish it. Another set of eyes can be incredibly helpful, especially with all of the COVID adjustments we’ve had to make. After publishing, some instructors will even add their Friends of Penn State limited access account as a student to give them a “true” student view once their course content is published.
Tip #2:  Use a master course to prepare and review your content before making it available to students. Didn’t get everything done that you thought you would this summer? Join the club! One strategy for editing course content in a safe (non-student) Canvas space is to request and use a Canvas Master Course to create and design your content that is still in the works. Once it’s ready, you can just import modules, pages, quizzes, etc. into your live sections.