Explore UAB

In times where courses need to be transitioned to a different mode of delivery, there are options to ensure course continuity. When you need to transition your face-to-face course to online delivery, many strategies can be implemented to provide an effective learning environment. The goal is to ensure that students continue to build knowledge, interact with the content, peers, and the instructor, and are assessed on their mastery of the course objectives.

While everyone is encouraged to think creatively when creating assignments online, keep in mind that not all students have access to the same technology (high speed internet, laptops, mobile devices, software, etc.).

UAB's Commitment to Inclusion

There are students registered with Disability Support Services (DSS) who require accommodations which have been tailored to meet their needs in the traditional in-class setting. DSS is available to consult with faculty to ensure students continue to have an accessible experience at UAB. Please note, if the University has not made this change in format, but an individual instructor chooses to change their course to online, it is critical that faculty who have students utilizing certain accommodations contact DSS to consult. For example:

  • Students with hearing loss who utilized interpreting services or captioning services in the classroom will need to access the online version of the course which will need to continue to be accessible.
  • If an instructor is using Zoom to conduct their class, and a student requires interpreting or captioning services, the instructor will need to work with DSS to ensure that these accessibility features are included in the delivered format.

For questions, please contact Disability Support Services at (205) 934-4205 or dss@uab.edu.

Online Approaches for Traditional Assignments and Learning Activities

Class Discussions → Canvas Discussion Boards

Transitioning your face-to-face instruction to an online environment does not require you to sacrifice rich discussions. Canvas Discussion Boards can be utilized in multiple ways.

Graded Discussions

  • Use graded discussions to prompt students to engage with peers to discuss assigned readings or lecture content, work on case studies, debate topics, share how their experiences relate to course content, etc.
  • Discussions can be set up weekly or periodically as appropriate in meeting your course objectives.
  • Discussions can be set up for the whole class or for smaller groups of students.
  • To promote engagement, provide instructions for students to make an initial post and respond to peers.
  • You can make the discussions richer by participating and guiding students, but do not feel obligated to respond to every post.
    • Ask questions to further the discussion.
    • Clarify misunderstandings.
    • Provide your experiences and additional resources.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • A FAQ discussion board can make communication more effective by allowing you or other students to answer a question once. The answer is viewable by all students.
  • Encourage students to post questions about the course on this discussion board instead of sending you an email. Note that questions about grades and personal matters should be emailed and not posted on a discussion board.
  • Communicate clear expectations about your involvement in the discussion. For example, you could say: "Questions regarding this course are to be posted here and students are encouraged to participate. This way you may find that your question has already been answered, and the same questions will only have to be answered once. Please note that private matters and urgent issues should be communicated directly to the instructor via Canvas or UAB email, and not posted in this public and open forum."

"Hallway" Conversations

You know those conversations you have with students or that students have with each other right after class in the hallway or in the parking lot? You do not have to lose those valuable interactions either. Provide a discussion board that is open for students to have their own conversations about the course content, share experiences, and exchange resources.

Return to Online Approaches menu

Written Assignments → Canvas Assignments

Written assignments are a common method to assess student knowledge and provide feedback to students. Chances are you are already requiring students to write a paper. Doing this online only requires you to create a place for submission. Written assignments are great for:

  • Graded Assignments: Examples include book reviews, journals, reflections, research papers, compare and contrast, article reviews, interviews, etc.
  • Peer Review: You can use the Peer Review tool in Canvas to require students to review a certain number of peers’ papers.
  • Draft: Provide students an opportunity to submit drafts so they can receive feedback.

Written assignments can include images, charts, tables, etc. They can be in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Adobe PDF.

Providing feedback on assignments is made easy through using rubrics and annotating student submissions.

View the Canvas Assignment Tutorials to learn how to set up assignments.

Concerned About Plagiarism?

  • You can enable Turnitin on an Assignment in Canvas to check for plagiarism.
  • View the Turnitin Guides for details on using Turnitin in Canvas.

Do Students Need Help With Writing Assignments?

Return to Online Approaches menu

Quizzes and Tests → Canvas Quizzes

Quizzes and tests can easily be set up in Canvas. Grading them online can be even easier.

Types of Quizzes

  • Practice quizzes (ungraded) to allow you and students to check progress
  • Weekly or chapter/unit/module quizzes
  • Tests/exams

Types of Questions

  • Automatically graded (e.g., multiple choice, true/false, matching)
  • Manually graded (e.g., essay questions, fill-in-the-blanks)


Immediate/automated feedback

When creating the questions, you can insert feedback. Students can see this feedback after submitting the quiz/exam.

Concerned about Academic Integrity?

UAB offers different solutions to increase academic integrity for online exams. These resources are available on the eLearning Proctoring webpage.

View the Canvas Quiz Tutorials to learn how to set up quizzes.

Return to Online Approaches menu


For moving student presentations online, consider the following options:

  • Students can use readily accessible technology (e.g. cellphone, Zoom, PowerPoint, or another recording software that they can access) to record their presentation. Recorded presentations can be uploaded to a Canvas assignment or discussion.
  • Students can present live to the instructor and peers using Zoom. Zoom can be used for individual and group presentations.
  • GoReact is a cloud-based video tool that integrates a variety of feedback options and grading of student video assignments. This tool lends itself to communication and public speaking, interpretation, clinical training, evaluations, performance arts, etc. GoReact can be used for individual and group presentations.

Return to Online Approaches menu

Teamwork and Group Projects

Just like in your face-to-face class, you have the ability to assign group projects to your students in an online environment. There are multiple ways students can collaborate on completing these projects.

  • The Groups section of Canvas is a space where students can share files, discuss topics, and compile information. The Groups space is only accessible by the members of the group and the instructor.
  • Students have free access to Microsoft Office 365 and 1Tb of file storage, which can be used to collaborate on documents.  
  • Students can host Zoom meetings to work on their projects virtually.

Return to Online Approaches menu

For additional ideas specifically related to your content, please contact the Division of eLearning for consultations.

Subscribe to our newsletter for academic technology updates, course design and delivery best practices and workshop/training opportunities.

Back to Top