Navigating Changes in Winter Teaching

Navigating Changes in Winter Teaching

The University of Oregon has updated winter 2022 instructional policies in response to COVID conditions. Instructors may move courses with 20 percent or more Covid-related student absences to synchronous online instruction for a limited period of time in consultation with their unit heads and deans. Additionally, instructors are required to record class sessions unless there is a valid pedagogical reason not to do so. The intent of this policy is to ensure that students who need to miss class for Covid-related reasons such as illness or quarantine will have equitable access to course content. Academic Council recognizes that recording may not be the best way to achieve equitable access for absent students in some contexts: highly interactive sessions, discussions and labs, for example. Individual instructors are in the best position to make this pedagogical decision for their classes and for each teaching session.

Below are four example approaches instructors might use to ensure equitable access to course material in winter term.

Teaching Pillars:

Before Class: Clear Organization & Communication

With so much in flux, instructors' efforts to streamline and signpost in Canvas, communicate clearly and in regular patterns, and establish known make-up processes for absent students are more valuable than ever.

  1. Canvas: Organize your Canvas site in modules, and on overview pages for modules, identify (a) goals for each class period, (b) pre-work, (c) post-work, & (d) instructions for in-class activities. Having Canvas organized in this way and with these details already available supports learning for all students (regardless of absences) and saves time for student and instructor when absences are necessary. See these How-to Guides and Video Tutorials for more information on organization in Canvas.
  2. Communication: You are welcome to download and use these visual resources if they help to crisply communicate modality shifts to students.
  3. Attendance and Makeups: Post 1-2 standing assignments students can do for any class missed because of illness or quarantine. See and import the "Report Absences Here" module from Canvas Commons to streamline student communication around and planning for absences. Find examples of standing assignments students might do for any missed class on this TEP resource.

During and After Class

Option 1: Teach in Classroom & Record 

Recording Icon
Suggested Steps
  1. Connect your computer to the HDMI output that goes to the projector. Before recording, check whether your classroom has a mic to amplify sound (if so, connect it to your computer for a higher quality recording). Use Zoom or Panopto to record (see this step-by-step tutorial).
  2. After student watches the recording, they complete the standing assignment.
  3. Let students know that their assignment counts as making up the missed class.
Classroom Recording Policy

Instructors might consider signaling on the syllabus how they will handle class recording. One example:  

"Capturing what happens during our live meetings is a way to take care of one another in our COVID context and help all students deepen learning. We will make a recording of class content so that students who must miss will have a resource to refer to, and students who attended will have a resource to go back to and strengthen their learning. I will strive to record the parts of our class sessions when I am primarily sharing information, and when we as a class we are applying it, and will post those recordings in weekly Canvas modules. As recording our time together can sometimes change how students feel about participation, I will let you know when we are recording. Federal privacy law (FERPA) restricts the sharing of recordings that identify students outside this class. Please note that recording or sharing the recordings I make without written permission from me is also a violation of the Student Conduct Code."

Find more guidance on how to record and ways to communicate about it with students at the Classroom Recording page.  




Option 2: Post Notes; Structure Engagement

Notepad Icon
    Suggested Steps
    1. Post your slides and/or a portion of your own notes to Canvas. If you don’t have detailed materials to share, one option is to ask students to rotate note taking as a collaborative activity, then post those notes to Canvas (consider awarding points for these notes as part of participation or low-stakes graded activities). You can find a template to use for this below. 
    2. ​​​​​​Let students know how to engage with these materials to make up the class. For example, instructors may require discussion board posts (particularly if in a discussion course); have absent students take a Canvas quiz; or assign a written, audio, or video response to whatever the materials were for the day. 
    3. Absent students should consult all posted materials and complete the standing assignment.
    4. Let students know that their assignment counts as making up the missed class.
    Note-Taking Template

    Effective note-taking is a learned skill. Students may need support in taking notes that will aid in retrieval and reflection, and notes that will capture important information for their peers.  We've put together a notes template that can be downloaded and customized for your context, and then shared directly with students to fill in. 

    Examples of Engagement

    Where students are learning through in-class discussion or application, structuring a standing assignment that asks them to contribute to class discussion or practice and share application is important. Examples of assignments that invite this type of engagement include:

    • Asking students who could not attend to synthesize key points and identify challenging questions from the materials (perhaps through a medium they can share with the class—like Discussion posts-- or can add to any collaborative notes).  For example, “Please review all materials for the day and note 1) 2-3 key ideas or practices you learned, 2) any questions (big or small) that the materials raised and, optionally 3) where you see these ideas or practices in the news or your own life.” TEP also offers some ideas to deepen engagement with readings here
    • Spending a few minutes at the end of the discussion having students summarize key points on a Canvas Discussion thread. Then ask students who couldn’t attend to respond or write a synthesis.  
    • Allowing students to upload a video or audio of them doing what students did in class if your course features application (provided they have all equipment they need off site).    
    • Having students analyze a publicly available performance, chemistry experiment, court case, or whatever is relevant in your field. Contact your subject librarian for help finding resources.     
    • Having students submit a journal entry, series of sketches, or other process notes to capture reflections about course materials or their practice. 



    Option 3: Teach in Class & Stream (via Zoom)

    Streaming Icon
      Suggested Steps
      1. You want to offer isolating & quarantining students the option of remote attendance. In a hyflex classroom, use the instructions to set up. If not in a hyflex classroom, instructors will want to be even more diligent about repeating student questions and comments aloud, as the absence of additional mics will make it harder for students to hear each other. 
      2. Set up a virtual meeting link and post the link to Canvas with a list of expectations for how to participate remotely (e.g., ask questions in text chat).
      3. For group activities with students absent due to COVID, identify a group who can work with the remote student(s) and share guidance about how to incorporate them in the activity.
      HyFlex Good Teaching Practices

      Using HyFlex can present some special challenges. Read this post on practices for setting up a HyFlex learning environment so that all students can participate.  



      Option 4: Teach Entire Class in Zoom

      Icon for Zoom Class
        Suggested Steps
        1. Confirm approval of unit head. 
        2. Set up Zoom meeting through your Canvas course site.
        3. Notify students 24 hours in advance.
        4. Start the Zoom meeting at your regularly scheduled class time.
        Additional Resources

        How-to Guides for using Zoom in Canvas 

        Remote Course Builder Toolkit



        Get Support

        For urgent classroom tech support during a live class, please use the regional support number listed in the room and at

        For support around creating or enacting an approach that works for you, contact us!