Bucknell Teaching Continuity Guide

Note: This is a living document and a work in progress.


Watch the recording of the session from Thursday afternoon (includes captions).

Watch the recording of the session from Friday morning (NO captions yet).


Table of Contents (click to jump to section):


  1. Accessibility, Equity, and Understanding
  2. Communicating with Students Off-Campus
  3. Delivering Virtual Instruction
  4. Engaging Students in Virtual Participation
  5. Assessing Students Digitally
  6. Course Continuity for Lab Courses

In the event of a scenario that prevents instructors and students from meeting face to face, Bucknell instructors could adopt an online teaching approach. The purpose of this page is to help instructors quickly learn and apply the fundamentals of online teaching and learning. These options are intended to temporarily maintain course continuity; they do not represent recommendations for fully online courses.

Digital methods can approach the levels of interactivity that one would expect in a classroom, but they may disadvantage students for whom their home environment does not afford them access to computers, broadband internet, or even sustained focused time.  Faculty must not assume that all students 

  • Have access to printers
  • Are in the same time zone
  • Have the same access as they would on campus
  • Have consistent access to a reliable computer
  • Have access to the internet beyond their phones

These, and other barriers, could severely limit the ability of a student to participate in any online course activities. Because of this, the provost and deans highly recommend moving course activities to an asynchronous model.


For yourself, please note that internet stability is critical when working remotely. If you experience network slowness while working from home, you can also try turning off internet-heavy devices or services on your home network, like Netflix streams or video game consoles. 


Suggested Reading:

Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start

How to Make Your Online Pivot Less Brutal

Remote Teaching Resources


Accessibility, Equity, and Understanding

This section is adapted from the work of Sean Michael Morris, Director of Digital Pedagogy Lab and author of An Urgency of Teachers.


In the event that you have to move courses online, it’s important to remember: that doesn’t mean you need to change how you teach. You are still just as human, and so are the students in your courses. Email, text messages, phone calls — these are all ways to sustain a human connection. The following are some reminders to keep in mind as we all enter this uncertain space:

Ideas to keep in mind during this transition to online teaching:

  • Commit to making your resources accessible. Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning is good for everyone, as it removes barriers to access course content and promotes an inclusive learning environment for all students. When creating resources, ensure you are using best practices. Check out this resource from Purdue University on Creating Accessible Resources. If you have questions regarding accessibility, reach out to the Bucknell Office of Accessibility Resources at OAR@bucknell.edu.
  • Be honest about what this transition means for you and for students. The rest of the school year will not be the same. You will need to improvise and be patient. Students will need to improvise and be patient.
  • Rethink grading. Normal rules of rigor, attendance, participation need to be revisited. Asynchronous work is harder than synchronous work (most people find working remotely difficult). Assessment should reflect that.
  • Human connection will always work better than technological connection. Don’t rely on tools as a substitute for what you already do well. Technology doesn’t teach, you do.
  • Look for simple solutions. Don’t complicate distant learning suddenly with unnecessary tools or expectations. Use reliable, familiar tools (email, text messages, Zoom, etc.) so that teaching can remain the core of your work.
  • Be responsive. Many students may not have internet access at home. They may not have computers at home. Find out what they need, what they can do, and work with them. This means more work for you, but it’s the only way to be equitable.
  • Be sure that any digital tools you use are mobile-friendly. More students will have access to cell phones than they will computers. Ensuring that students have points of entry, no matter their hardware limitations, is necessary.
  • Everyone in this situation will make mistakes. Be okay with that. Digital learning and digital pedagogy are tricky for even the most proficient online teachers. Forgive and be forgiving.

Communicating with Students Off-Campus

During a potentially disruptive event, it is important for instructors to establish and maintain open communication lines with students.  The best option for instructors is to use existing tools which are already available across the entire campus. Moodle offers a number of communication channels, including sending Moodle Announcements, or sending emails to students using the Moodle Quickmail block. Similarly, instructors may use a course email list to email course-related announcements and updates to the class.  

Tips for effectively communicating with students online:

  • Be consistent with the digital tool selected for online communications, and be sure to post this information in a prominent location, such your syllabus. 
  • Set expectations for how students should engage in the communication, including how they should contact the instructor. 
  • Set expectations with students for how quickly the instructor will respond to online communication.
  • Create Google Calendar invitations for advising, meetings, etc. with Google Hangouts Meet.
  • Create Google Calendar invitations for advising, meetings, etc. with Zoom using the Chrome or Firefox browser.

Delivering Virtual Instruction

There are many ways in which instructors can provide instructional content for their students, either asynchronously or synchronously, using digital tools provided by L&IT. For asynchronous content, using Kaltura Capture or recording a Zoom session are great options for providing content your students can access when they are able to. For synchronous sessions, we recommend holding Zoom sessions for your students to attend and interact virtually.

When creating a video resource, whether asynchronous or synchronous:

  • Use headphones or earbuds with a microphone to minimize surrounding noise and maximize your voice. If you need equipment for creating virtual instruction (microphones, headsets, webcams, etc.) please stop by the equipment desk in Bertrand Library. Please note: We have a limited supply of equipment.
  • Create a recording of your video and upload it so students can access it later.
  • If using Zoom, join a test meeting to see if your connection is sufficient. Ask your students to do the same!
  • Reduce your own stress by ensuring you are recording in a secure, quiet, and distraction-free environment.

To optimize your asynchronous instruction:

To optimize your synchronous instruction:

  • In your Zoom settings, opt to Mute Participants upon entry into the meeting.  As the host of the meeting, instructors are able to mute and unmute participants at any point. 
  • As the host of the meeting, instructors can use Breakout Rooms for group discussions or group problem sets. In a Breakout Room, instructors can split the large meeting into separate rooms for small groups of students to work collaboratively.
  • Invite guest speakers, librarians, technologists, and other experts to engage with your students.
  • In order to ensure equitable access, avoid requiring attendance and ensure students have multiple avenues to submit questions.

Engaging Students in Virtual Participation

Some courses rely on rich, classroom discussions to enhance students’ learning and peer engagement. This environment is challenging to recreate in a virtual environment. Zoom Breakout rooms can work for synchronous discussions; Moodle allows threaded asynchronous written discussions. Moodle also offers the ability to schedule student appointments for small groups or individual meetings. You, as an instructor, will need to set appropriate expectations for student behavior in an online environment. If you opt to use Moodle, encourage your students to download and use the Moodle Mobile App.

Tips for administering effective online discussions:

  • Communicate clear guidelines in the prompt that establish your expectations for students’ contributions to the discussion. Many instructors choose to provide details about the writing style (e.g., formal/informal), number of posts, length (e.g., number of words), frequency, tone, and content (e.g., elements that constitute “value added”).
  • Be present in the discussion board by providing feedback and coaching to student responses - model the behavior you want students to exhibit.
  • Use the Community of Inquiry model to help design and frame any threaded discussions you plan to have.
  • Create questions and prompts that require complex thinking and application of ideas to avoid repetitive student responses.

Assessing Students Digitally

Instructors may leverage Moodle tools to formatively and summatively assess student learning. The assignment activity in Moodle is the easiest way to track student homework and can also be used for returning graded work to students. If you want to ensure that students submit original work, you can also use the Turnitin Assignment in Moodle, which allows students to submit writing that is checked against Turnitin's database of previously submitted work and other writings available online. Turnitin also has a component called Feedback Studio that allows you to add in-line comments to student papers, along with a final grade. You should carefully consider what you want from any assessment before mapping directly from current, in-class, to remote course delivery. Online teaching requires a balance of accessibility and complexity.

Tips for administering effective exams online:

  • Create complex questions that require deep, analytical thinking skills to complete.
  • Use time limits for the exam availability to maintain students’ focus during the exam.
  • Allow students multiple attempts (e.g., 2) to allow for troubles with Internet connectivity.
  • Randomize the questions of a quiz to maximize academic integrity
  • For assignments that require hand written, complex notation, instructors can create student-submitted Gradescope assignments.
  • Gradescope requires a PDF to submit content. Refer to their Submitting Homework Guide for suggested apps that students can use to create PDF documents and create quality scans using their mobile device.

Course Continuity for Lab Courses

If you have a lab course, you will need to make decisions regarding the feasibility of running your labs online. There may be value in continuing to run your lab virtually depending on the learning objectives and necessary tools available. But you might also decide to cancel the lab. Many lab courses require specialized software, hardware, and/or other materials that may become inaccessible to faculty and students in the event that in-person classes are suspended unexpectedly. How can you move forward with lab activities in the case that your lab course needs to be taught online for a period of time?


Bucknell University has a remote lab infrastructure that contains some of the software applications installed in the on-campus labs.

Running Lab Activities Online:

  • Identify which of your lab activities can be delivered online. For example, orientation/pre-lectures and demonstrations of techniques (such as introducing a piece of equipment) can be recorded in Kaltura Capture and uploaded to Moodle. Peer learning can be done asynchronously with online discussion forums, or synchronously via Zoom.
  • Provide students with raw data to analyze. If your course involves data collection and analysis, consider walking your students through/demonstrating the data collection yourself, and then providing your students with data to analyze.
  • Be clear in your expectations, and also flexible. Set clear expectations for the work, but keep in mind that students may require more flexibility and understanding as everyone gets accustomed to new ways of doing things.
  • Access to software. Identify which software your students might currently only have access to on campus-based computers (as opposed to their personal computers or our Virtual Lab environments). L&IT can work with you on software licensing and possible alternatives.
  • Investigate virtual lab options. You may be able to accomplish some lab activities via online simulation. Below, we’ve provided a few options for you to investigate.

Middlebury College has some good tips on offering virtual labs. 

Free Online Labs and Simulations:

  • MERLOT Simulation Collection (California State University) - The MERLOT collection of Open Educational Resources includes thousands of free simulations on a broad range of topics.
  • ChemCollective (joint project from NSF, Carnegie Mellon, and NSDL) - Free, online chem lab simulations for topics including Stoichiometry, Thermochemistry, Equilibrium, Acid-Base Chemistry, Solubility, Oxidation/Reduction and Electrochemistry, Analytical Chemistry/Lab Techniques
  • PhET Interactive Simulations (University of Colorado – Boulder) - Free online simulations and teaching activities for Physics, Chemistry, Math, Earth Science, and Biology (site has simulations for all grade levels; link takes you to simulations designed for university students).


Fair Use and Copyright

Bucknell L&IT recognizes the importance of intellectual property and copyright. In a crisis situation we will follow the guidelines of professional associations and experts in copyright. A current summary of those recommendations can be found in this statement:

Public Statement of Library Copyright Specialists: Fair Use & Emergency Remote Teaching & Research


This guide was adapted, with permission, from Brown University’s Teaching Continuity Guide, developed by their Digital Learning & Design group. We also referenced continuity sites from Middlebury College, which in turn used inspiration from Indiana University, Pepperdine University, and University of Maryland – College Park for help in creating the lab portion of this post.


If you have questions or need assistance with online instructional design, contact the Tech Desk at techdesk@bucknell.edu.


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Article ID: 327
Fri 3/6/20 2:59 PM
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