Keeping Everyone on Track

Consider these tips as you’re readying your course for Fall delivery to help keep all of your students keep on task and at the same point in the class welcome to Equitable Communications with all Students

Set expectations

General communication

Let your online/not in-person students know if you plan on communicating with them regularly, and how often that might be. As an example, some instructors choose to send out general weekly communications at the beginning of the week. Others send out more frequent communication. Having regular, structured communication can help your students feel engaged with the course as well as help them remember and understand what’s going on in the course.

See this page for more on equitable communication.


One of the largest problems students identified in Spring, was feeling separated from their classes and experiencing a feeling of being lost. Besides regular communication, feedback on assignments and assessments, and encouragement can go a long way in improving student morale and engagement.

Learning objectives and content meaning

If you’re not already including information on how new topics relate to previous topics, the course goals, or students and their worldview, consider including that in either communications, your topic lessons, or framing text for your students unable to attend in person.


Although you likely have a grading scale in your syllabus and information on late work submission, consider also including the following items:

  • Canvas “grading scheme” – the grading scheme in Canvas is a setting that allows what Canvas shows in Grades to reflect what your actual grading scale is for the class. This can be useful for students not able to attend in-person to better understand how well they’re doing. It may also reduce some of the grade questions you receive! See these two Canvas guides on how to create and set a grading scheme.
  • Assignment and assessment grading criteria – consider providing information on what a “good” or “poor” assignment submission includes. These might be student examples with identifying information removed, or samples you create. You should be clear on what elements you’ll be looking for when grading. This is often accomplished through the use of rubrics. Rubrics can be files attached to Canvas assignments or distributed to students. You may also choose to create your rubrics in Canvas, which can speed along the grading process when used in tandem with SpeedGrader. See these pages for more information: creating a rubric in Canvas, attaching a rubric to an Assignment, attaching a rubric to a Discussion, attaching a rubric to a quiz.
  • Expectations for graded work – Consider creating Transparent assignments┬áso that all students benefit from knowing the Purpose, Tasks, and Criteria for success. Not only will this assignment design technique will decrease what you might need to explain to students who can’t attend an in-person session, but it’ll help the students who can attend the in-person, as well because they’ll be less likely to need to ask you further questions!

Provide resources

When students are not able to attend in person, they may not know where to look for help. You may want to create a page similar to this one (feel free to copy!), and make it available in your Canvas course. Additionally, consider linking to or providing students the links to resources that can help them with their work, like relevant libguides, writing center resources, or other external resources.

Consider how you’ll make resources used or referenced in class available online. This could be as simple as uploading files to Canvas or creating links, or take a little more work like sharing presentations or creating equitable experiences.

For partially or wholly in-person courses, you will likely also need to think about how your students unable to attend in person will be assessed. For much more on this topic, please refer to this page.