Support for Online Faculty

Online courses are offered during Allen Term (December - January), Summer Term, and during the academic year. Online courses are taught using Canvas, AU's learning management system. Support is available for all faculty who teach online.

Available Services

As faculty teach online, Information Technology Services can provide training and/or assistance in the following areas:

  • Instructional design & course development
  • Online course accessibility
  • Lecture Capture using Panopto
  • Canvas
  • Synchronous technologies (Zoom, Microsoft Teams)
  • Identifying and selecting appropriate technology tools

Recommended Course Development Procedure

Before faculty teach online for the first time, they are encouraged to engage in the recommended course development procedure and meet each of the milestones illustrated below:

  1. Canvas Proficiency
    This first milestone is reached when faculty complete Canvas training (available by request) or feel comfortable using Canvas in their face to face courses.
  2. Online Course Development Orientation
    This session covers the legal requirements of online courses and best practices for course design. It is available in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. The asynchronous course is available in Canvas, and culminates in the development of the first module of an online course. To sign up for either version of the orientation, please complete the request form.
  3. Create the Online Course Syllabus
    It is recommended that you begin with your on campus syllabus and focus on the learning objectives and content. Consider whether the face to face assessments and activities can be applied to the online environment. Examine the learning objectives and consider how they may be assessed.
  4. Develop the Course in Canvas
    Consider the alignment of the learning objectives and content. What opportunities are provided by the online environment that may not exist face to face? Determine how the course will be structured in Canvas. Ensure that the students will be able to locate content and activities with minimal effort. Guided course development is available from ITS.

Course Development Considerations: COI & RSI

Community of Inquiry Framework (COI)

The Community of Inquiry (COI) Framework is the basis for modern online learning. It suggests that effective online courses must possess three “presences.” This may be helpful as you build your course.

Teaching Presence – content, structure, expectations, and communication set by the instructor

Cognitive Presence – mindful interaction with content, practice, and application of knowledge

Social Presence – interaction among students and instructor; class community & discourse

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

The US Department of Education requires that all distance education courses support regular and substantive interaction between the instructor and students. The presence of RSI distinguishes distance education courses from correspondence courses. Interactions must occur between the instructor and students, be scheduled and predictable, academic in nature (related to the course), and must be initiated by the instructor. Additional guidance is available from SUNY and NC-SARA.


Reference: Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T., Archer, W. "Critical Inquiry in a Text- Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education." The Internet and Higher Education 2.2-3 (1999): 87-105.

Definitions are included below for common terms and items which intersect with, but are not necessarily synonymous with online education. Additional definitions are available in AU's Policy on Course Modality, which is available on the Registrar's Office page, under the heading "Services for Faculty and Staff." While planning their courses, instructors should consult this policy.

Online Course
A course that is completed entirely online through Canvas, AU’s learning management system. Additional online resources may also be used. All materials, activities, and assignments are accessed online.

Hybrid Course
A course that is completed mostly online, with 1-5 on-campus class meetings.

Learning Management System
A web-based platform that allows faculty to post materials, activities and assignments for their classes. AU's learning management system is Canvas.

Mixed Synchronous Format
This describes a course that is taught with some students participating in a classroom, while others participate remotely through Zoom (or a similar platform) at the same time.

This is a mixed synchronous format that allows students to choose whether they attend in class or remotely.

Video conferencing used to connect geographically separate individuals using the traditional on-campus course model. While this practice is facilitated with technology, it is not considered online learning on its own.

Lecture Capture
On-campus lectures are recorded for later viewing by students. While this practice is facilitated with technology, it (by itself) is not considered online learning.

The following information must be included in the syllabus for any online or hybrid course at Alfred University:

Technology Requirements for Students taking online courses:

  • Regular access to a high-speed Internet connection
  • A dial-up Internet connection is unacceptable
  • A computer or device that can run the most recent internet browsers
  • The newest version of one of the following Internet browsers: Chrome, Firefox, or Safari

Course Evaluation
All students will be required to complete the course evaluation at the end of the term. This can be done using the survey tool in Canvas, or using a Microsoft Form managed by Network Services. Course Evaluations in Canvas are usually managed and compiled by the secretary of the division.

Expectations and Requirements for Email and Canvas Use
Students should know how frequently they are expected to check their email and visit the course in Canvas. Instructors should provide time expectations for responding to student email (for example: “If you email me, I will respond within one business day.”)

Hybrid Courses (some in-class sessions and some online work)
If the course is a hybrid, the syllabus must include all in-person meeting dates, times, and locations, as well as due dates for online assignments.

Synchronous Activities (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Canvas Chat, etc.)
If real-time online activities are required, the syllabus must include the dates and times of the activities, as well as alternative assignments for those who are unable to participate during the specified time.

Etiquette & Conduct
Provide guidelines for discussion board posts, and general expectations for participation. Include recommendations for what students should do if they have a problem or question pertaining to the course.

Instructor Availability
Instructors should provide availability and contact information (in person, by phone, Canvas chat, Zoom, etc.) as office hours would be provided for a traditional class.

NYSED Time on Task
Make the students aware of the NYSED Time on Task requirement. No record of in-class time v. out-of-class time is required; it is expected that students will spend 45 hours per credit on learning tasks. Activities include but are not limited to: in-class meetings (hybrid), viewing/ reading lecture material, reading the text book, completing assignments and activities, communicating with the professor, studying, working with other students on group projects, and conducting any necessary research.

Accessibility Statement (copy and paste this into your syllabus)
At Alfred University we strive to make all learning experiences as accessible as possible. Please let me know if you anticipate or experience a physical or learning barrier based on a disability. I am willing to meet with you individually to confidentially discuss your learning needs. However, to request formal instructional or testing accommodations, please consult with the Center for Academic Success (CAS) which is located on the second floor of Herrick Library (607-871-2148). The CAS office is responsible for reviewing disability documentation, determining eligibility for reasonable accommodations, and helping students with disabilities request and use accommodations in order to allow equal access to all learning environments.

Recommendation: Academic Integrity & the Use of Online "Study Sites"
Sites such as Course Hero, Chegg, and others present a challenge to academic integrity. A page on Academic Integrity Online is available to help educate students on the implications of using these sites. If you feel it would be helpful, please feel free to share the link, or to copy and paste the text of the page into your syllabus.

Whether you are using tools inside or outside of Canvas, you should first focus on your goals rather than on specific tools. It is important to consider the following:

  • What is the goal or objective you would like to meet?
  • What skills will the students need in order to use the tool? Do they already have those skills?
  • Are you comfortable with the tool? If you are not comfortable with the tool, you should reconsider using it.
  • If the tool is not provided by ITS, are you comfortable troubleshooting with the students?

ITS staff can assist in the tool selection process. Please contact the ITS Helpdesk for assistance.

Tools Provided by AU

Learning Management System

Lecture Capture/ Video Streaming

Plagiarism Detection Tool

Office 365
Provides access to Outlook, One drive, and Microsoft Office Programs

Video Conferencing Tool; Licensed accounts are available for faculty

Microsoft Teams
Video Conferencing, Collaboration, and Screen Sharing; available through AU's Office 365 agreement

When a course is taught online, considerations need to be made regarding how the Canvas learning management system is used. Content should be organized in a chronological fashion and should be easy for the students to locate. Online courses at AU are taught using the Canvas LMS. A self-paced Canvas course is available for anyone who would like a step-by-step model for creating a course in Canvas.

Canvas Recommendations

  • Arrange Content and Assignments using Modules; Use Modules as the course home page
  • It is recommended that instructors make use of the Modules Page feature to create a module for each week or topic, and add materials to each module.
  • Customize the course menu to remove unused items, and items that will be reached through Module links

Canvas Instructions

Instructions for all Canvas Tasks are available in the Canvas Instructor Guide. Instructions for General Canvas Tasks are linked below.

Add a Module

Add an item to a Module (file, assignment, discussion, etc.)



Content Pages

Publish a Course

Remove unused items from the Course Navigation Menu

New York State Education Department (NYSED) Time on Task Requirements

Students should expect to spend approximately 45 minutes of learning time per credit, regardless of the delivery method of a course (online, hybrid, or face to face). More information on determining time on task is available from NYSED.

Regular & Substantive Interaction

Effective July 1, 2021, The US Department of Education Requires distance education courses to provide regular and substantive Interaction. The presence of regular and substantive interaction distinguishes distance education courses from correspondence courses. Distance education courses are eligible for financial aid, while correspondence courses are not. Institutions found to be out of compliance by the DOE Office of the Inspector General risk losing student financial aid.

For interaction to be deemed "regular," it must occur on a planned, scheduled, or predictable basis. Interaction is deemed "substantive" when students are engaged through teaching, learning, and assessment, and at least two of the following:

  • Instructor provides direct instruction
  • Instructor assesses and provides feedback on student work
  • Instructor provides information and answers questions regarding course content/ competencies
  • Instructor facilitates group discussions on course content/ competencies
  • Other instructional activities approved by the relevant accrediting bodies

Additional information and explanations are available from NC-SARA and SUNY Online.


As AU expands its online course offerings, it is likely that you will have students who require disability accommodations. Creating your course with accessibility in mind will prevent the need to adjust a course to meet accommodation requirements. All courses should include a link to the Center for Academic Success web page.

It is recommended that you incorporate Universal Design principles into your course, so it is accessible to all students regardless of differences that may impact learning. You can check your course for accessibility by using AU's Course Development Check List, or the SUNY OSCQR Rubric.

Fair Use/ Copyright

Any faculty member using reproduced material should consult Section 107 of the US Copyright Law on Fair Use. If you are unsure of whether your use of an item is considered fair use, you can use the Fair Use Evaluator Tool from the American Library Association. If you have questions regarding copyright or fair use, you are encouraged to contact AU's Libraries.

Academic Integrity

Instructors teaching online may ensure academic integrity by incorporating one or more of the following strategies:

Low-Stakes Assessments
Design assessments to minimize opportunities for cheating, and reduce “high stakes” test anxiety.

  • Assign several assessments (quizzes, discussion, journals, tests, papers, etc.) throughout the course, each making up a small portion of the overall grade
  • Give tests and quizzes that are open book/ open notes

Authentic Assessments
Authentic assessments create community and enable students to demonstrate that they have met the learning objectives of the course. Recommendations and resources are available from the SUNY FACT2 Task Group on Innovative Assessments.

Writing Assignments
Assign writing assignments; run them through Turnitin.

Canvas Quiz Settings
Give tests and quizzes in Canvas, using the available settings.

  • Randomize questions using question groups
  • The Assignment tool can allow students to upload assessments that show their handwritten work

In-Person Proctoring
If an instructor requires in-person proctored exams, the students’ first assignment will be to locate an appropriate proctor with instructor approval. Proctors could be located at places such as public libraries, high school guidance counselor offices, churches, or other locations where the student could be monitored.

The SUNY OSCQR rubric can be used as a guide during the course development process. It includes standards for course design and layout, accessibility,technology, activities, interaction, assessment, and communication. Instructors may use the rubric as a self-assessment to identify possible adjustments to their courses.

Online Course Reviews are available in conjunction with ITS, AU's Libraries, and the Center for Academic Success. The course reviews focus on accessibility, and use a modified version of the SUNY OSCQR rubric. The review team would consist of the instructor, ITS personnel, and/ or personnel from AU's Libraries or the Center for Academic Success. There are three opportunities for course reviews:

Full Course Review with OSCQR

  • Each reviewer examines the chosen course, using the rubric spreadsheet to indicate the presence of each standard
  • After 4-6 weeks, the review team meets to discuss possible adjustments and an action plan

Full Online Course Accessibility Review

  • Only standards addressing accessibility are included on the rubric
  • Each reviewer examines the chosen course, using the rubric spreadsheet to indicate the presence of each standard
  • After 4-6 weeks, the team meets to discuss possible adjustments and an action plan

Abbreviated Online Course Accessibility Review

  • Each reviewer examines one module of the chosen course (determined by the instructor)
  • Reviewers use the rubric spreadsheet to indicate the presence of each standard
  • After 2-3 weeks, the team meets to discuss possible adjustments and an action plan
  • The instructor may use their experience to address the remainder of the course

You can use the check list below as a course development self-assessment. Your online course is ready when it meets the following criteria:

Course Overview & Navigation

  • A welcome message, announcement, or video introduces the students to the course.
  • There are clear instructions for getting started and locating course materials and activities.
  • The Modules page in Canvas is used to organize content; OR there are clear instructions for locating materials.
  • Each module's materials are organized in the order they are to be completed.
  • Naming conventions, labels, titles, instructions, and navigational cues are logical and consistent.
  • The course, modules, and materials are published.

Usability & Accessibility

  • Each item can be accessed or opened.
  • Web links open in a new window.
  • Link text is meaningful and tells where the link is going (not the URL or "click here").
  • Text resources (Word, PDF, PowerPoint) have a light background and dark text.
  • Materials are provided in alternative formats when appropriate (for example: captions or transcripts for videos).
  • Text resources make use of Microsoft headings and styles.
  • Multimedia resources are easy to access and are compatible with a variety of operating systems, browsers, and devices.

Course Technology

  • The technology used in the course is current.
  • Students can easily access or obtain required technologies.
  • Instructions for accessing any external (non-Canvas) online resources are effective and easy to understand.
  • Contact information for the ITS Helpdesk is clearly stated.

Additional Information Related to Online and Virtual Teaching

Professional Organizations & Communities

Online Learning Consortium


WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technology)

Resources from SUNY

Interested in Teaching Online? – Free, Self-Paced Course

SUNY OER (Open Educational Resource) Services

Innovative Assessments for Student Learning

If you plan to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams to hold real-time virtual class meetings, please visit Best Practices for Synchronous Online Classes for a list of recommendations and helpful resources.

Some of AU's classes are being taught in a mixed synchronous format, with some students participating in the classroom, and some participating remotely in real time over Zoom or a similar platform. The tutorials below illustrate some of the technology that faculty may encounter as they teach in this mode.

Mobile Video Conferencing Units

Classroom Technology in the Olin Building (most classrooms)

Classroom Technology in Olin 307 & 310