Blackboard summer courses tip: 7 things to keep in mind when teaching online

UIC faculty have risen to the challenge of remote teaching, and now it is time to add key elements to take it to the next level. Below are seven tips for a better summer 2021 term:

  1. Be understanding. We are still in the middle of a very long pandemic, and each of your students is in a unique situation with different resources and individual needs. Flexibility will go a long way!
  2. Send an announcement to your students a week before classes start about how you are going to be teaching this semester: synchronously, asynchronously, blended, etc.
  3. Examine your course goals. Do your assessments (papers, projects, tests, etc.) still address your course goals, and can they be completed as well in your new course environment next semester? For example, perhaps you were teaching a remote synchronous course last semester, but next term you have been assigned an on-campus synchronous course. Do your assessments still support your goals, or do they possibly need to be tweaked?
  4. Communicate often. This can take many forms, but weekly announcements are a great way to show students you are still present even in a remote class. For high-stakes projects or papers in a remote class, it may be helpful to record yourself on Zoom or Panopto explaining how to approach an assignment as if you were hosting a live class. Attaching a sample paper/project as an example of your expectations will go a long way with anxious students who may need reassurance that they are understanding the guidelines.
  5. Focus on building community. Positive student-teacher interactions are an important component of student success. Building community in the classroom (in-person or remote) not only helps your student, but it also helps you as the instructor to gauge your students’ needs.
  6. Expect the unexpected. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, remember that plans may change (again). Create possible action plans ahead of time for students who may have to quarantine from exposure to COVID-19 that may have to miss a couple of weeks of classes.
  7. Be kind to yourself! As the old saying goes, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” In order to be great instructors, we have to take care of ourselves first. Don’t forget to take a break and practice self-care.

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics above, join fellow UIC instructors at the CATE Summer Institute. This professional learning opportunity is intended to help prepare for teaching this fall, but can also help you get started with your summer course. If you have any questions about this opportunity, please email CATE staff at

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