UT Austin supports a robust set of tools to enable you to create an engaging and dynamic learning environment. CATE can provide support in using technology to enhance and deliver your course and training is available for all UT-supported platforms.
We also offer dedicated pages for:
A. If you have used Adobe Connect for live web conferences or recorded lectures, please be aware that it will be discontinued at UT by the end of August, 2020.
Canvas is the primary online course platform at UT Austin. It is a full-featured learning management system where you can communicate with students, share files, create and grade online assignments and tests, have in-depth asynchronous discussions, and organize content and activities into modules. It even allows you to control how students progress through the learning activities within modules. Mobile apps are available for both teachers and students. The Zoom video conferencing platform, Panopto video recording platform and Proctorio remote proctoring system are fully integrated within Canvas to expand your online teaching tool set.
Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows you to have live virtual meetings with students. You can use Zoom to deliver lectures or conduct seminar-type discussions. Polling allows you to gauge student understanding and increase engagement. Breakout rooms allow you to do small group activities and discussions. Meetings can be recorded and transcribed. A mobile app is available. To use the full capabilities of Zoom, instructors and students need to have a device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) equipped with a camera for video and a microphone and speaker for audio. Zoom is fully integrated with Canvas. When you schedule a Zoom meeting through Canvas, a calendar entry will be created for every student in the course. You can also use your Personal Meeting Room to meet with an individual or small group of students. Bear in mind that some students may not have reliable or high bandwidth internet connectivity. If you opt for live Zoom meetings for classes, record the sessions and make them available for students to watch later if they have internet interruptions. Watching a recorded session requires less bandwidth than a live videoconference. Consider other options that might help students with limited connectivity, such as asking students in the live presentation to crowdsource notes in a Google Doc or providing an annotated PowerPoint file.
Panopto is an online video platform that’s great for pre-recording lectures. UT’s license provides unlimited video storage. It can be set to automatically transcribe the audio. You can embed graded or ungraded quiz questions into videos. Students can add bookmarks in videos and private or public comments. Media recorded outside of Panopto (e.g., a screening assignment, a recorded Zoom meeting) can be uploaded into Panopto. There is a setting to prevent downloading videos. You can create assignments that allow students to use Panopto to record their presentations.
Proctorio is a remote proctoring system that works with Canvas Quizzes. It can be set to lock down the browser and to record audio and video of students while taking a test. The system uses facial recognition algorithms to flag potential inappropriate behavior for the instructor to review. In addition to its recording and lockdown options, Proctorio provides security features that prevent unauthorized web browsing or content capture (e.g., screen-capturing or printing test questions). Proctorio also offers a more streamlined lock-down browser option. It only works with the Chrome web browser on a laptop (no mobile device options). Additionally students must have a webcam, microphone, and at least 2 GB of RAM.
A. UT has made three Canvas course templates available to help simplify construction of your Canvas courses. Templates are available for synchronous online courses, asynchronous online courses, and hybrid/blended courses. You can choose the template(s) you want, download the course export package, and upload it into your course or sandbox.
Several Moody College courses are available for you to explore and gather ideas; follow the course titles to self-enroll and access the demo course.
CE 333T Engineering Communication (Madeleine Redlick)
This course is mostly asynchronous, but meets synchronously via Zoom one day each week. The home page is customized with a photo of the professor (social presence), “how to get started” links, and links to the most commonly used parts of the course (syllabus, modules). Everything is organized in modules. There is plenty of preparation and orientation information. The professor provides a downloadable weekly checklist of what students need to do. This course was developed with support from Liberal Arts ITS.
CMS 313M Organizational Communication (Joshua Barbour)
This asynchronous course includes good orientation information and lots of low stakes assignments. The course is discussion-intensive using Slack (an external tool). Students must collaboratively complete a group project. Lectures were recorded using Screenflow and include both the professor and TA. Video lectures are posted in Vimeo so students can play them at different speeds.
CMS 367 Communicating with Stuff (Barry Brummett)
Everything is organized in modules, which has been set as the home page. Audio is recorded in PowerPoint for lectures. Students must engage in substantive asynchronous discussions throughout the semester. The course has an independent inquiry flag and students must complete a big group project. Students share their product presentations in Canvas discussions, where they also provide feedback to their peers. Dr. Brummett sends a welcome announcement before the first day of class.
J 336F Social Media Journalism (Robert Quigley)
The home page provides plenty of information on how to get started and links to what students will be doing each week in this fast-paced summer course. The course uses Canvas pages rather than modules to organize and link to everything students will need each week. Unused navigation is hidden.
ADV 315 History and Development of Advertising (Lucy Atkinson)
Everything is organized in modules, which has been set as the home page. Notice that most video lectures are fairly short and the length of each video is shown to help students manage their time. The “Same Four Questions” video interviews were filmed at the Liberal Arts Development Studio. Unused navigation links have been hidden.
RTF 306 Intro to World Cinema (Caroline Frick)
The professor received substantial Project 2021 funding and support from Liberal Arts ITS to develop this online course. It is a beautiful course that uses Clio (a LAITS tool) to present course content with numerous, short, engaging videos.
RTF 329 Digital Media Production (Ben Bays)
The professor received substantial Project 2021 funding to develop this online course. It is self-paced and gamified. Students earn badges for completing each assignment and can compare their badge progress with other students by viewing a leaderboard.
If you would like to see additional examples and models of online courses and components, search the Canvas Commons by topic or use the filter feature to narrow results. Many of the items included are downloadable and you can import them into your Canvas course. Click the Filter option and click the toggle for “Only The University Of Texas at Austin Approved Resources” to see modules developed at UT for UT, including several student well-being modules you can import into your online course.
A. Whatever tool you use to record your lectures, please consider and apply these “Best Practices for Recorded Lectures.” Also, Keri Stephens provides a short video to help you overcome the awkward feeling of delivering lectures without an audience.
One of the simplest options is to record audio directly into your PowerPoint file and make it available to students in Canvas. This works fine if students have access to a computer or laptop, but it’s not the best option is students are accessing course content on a phone or small tablet. For students who do not have PowerPoint software, you can save as a PowerPoint Show (.ppsx) which creates a self-contained file that can play independently. Be sure to keep your original PowerPoint Presentation (.pptx) as a separate file for future updates. If you would like to see suggestions for how to structure an online lecture in PowerPoint, Madeleine Redlick explains her approach.
Panopto is a lecture capture platform that allows instructors to record video, audio and screen activity. It is integrated into Canvas. Panopto allows you to embed graded or ungraded quizzes within a recording. You can also allow students to post private comments or public comments to discuss the video. Students can use Panopto to create presentations for assignments. Captioning is automatic and UT has unlimited storage space for recordings.
For Mac users, Quicktime Player is free and can be used to screencast or record audio/video from your computer's built-in mic/camera. You can also use it to edit the video. It can be used on iPhone, iPad, or Mac computers.
Screencast-o-matic can be used to record you, your screen, or both. You can also do basic video editing, e.g., snipping out mistakes. The free version is limited to recording 15-minute videos. Fortunately, it is a best practice to break recorded presentations into short segments. The deluxe and premium subscription plans are very reasonably priced. Several video tutorials are available to help learn how to use it.
Screenflow is a full-featured video editing and screen recording tool for Mac only. The cost is $129. Several faculty in Moody College and around campus use it and recommend it highly for those who need a more robust feature set.
A. Holding live class meetings via Zoom provides a way for students to interact in real-time with you and with their peers. If students prefer to learn face-to-face, they may be hungry for the immediacy and spontaneity that a live virtual meeting can provide. Holding class meetings at scheduled times also provides structure that some students may need.
At the beginning of the semester, set clear expectations for civility and respectful communication. Let students know this applies to audio/video communication, as well text-based communication in the Zoom chat.
Tell students how to ask questions. The Raise Hand feature on the participant panel is ideal for this. Some instructors choose to use the Chat exclusively for questions, rather than chatting. In large classes, it helps to have a TA monitor the participant list for raised hands or monitor the chat for questions.
Consider starting the Zoom session 10 minutes early to give students time for the kind of social interaction they would have in a classroom. Be disciplined about starting and ending on time.
Start each meeting with a “check-in” question using the Polling feature to gauge the mood of the class. It could be as simple as:
How are you feeling today?
Not so great
Display the poll results so everyone can see the overall mood of the class. Dig deeper if a large number of students are “not so great.”
Consider letting students “chat” during the Zoom meeting. This creates a back channel of communication and allows some levity and self-expression. If possible, ask a TA to monitor the chat and enforce rules of civility.
Use Breakout Rooms for small group interaction. Be sure to give clear instructions about what students should do, and how you expect them to report out after the breakout session. If you provide instructions on a screen-shared PowerPoint or in the chat box, they won’t be able to see that once they are in the breakout room. Ask them to take a screen grab or a photo with their phone and refer to it while in the breakout room. Let them know how much time they have to complete the assigned task. Visit the breakout rooms to check on progress. Ask if they need more time.
When everyone is back together, call on specific individuals to summarize their group’s discussion or conclusion. Don’t indicate who will report out before the breakout session. That keeps everyone engaged and on their toes.
If possible, don’t have meetings longer than an hour. Zoom fatigue is real. If you must have longer meetings, take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour. If you say we’ll start again at 2:45, then start at 2:45.
Use the polls to do quick knowledge checks to gauge if most people understand the topic. Adjust your presentation as needed based on poll results. Note that if you schedule your Zoom meetings in Canvas, you can find an option to pre-load your polls at the bottom of the meeting description.
Stay animated during your presentations. Encourage students to use the non-verbal communication features (e.g., thumbs up/thumbs down or applause) to indicate their reaction.
Call on one or two people to summarize main points every 15 minutes or so. Keep a list of who you have called on to make sure you eventually call on everyone. This helps keep everyone engaged because they don’t know when they will be called on to summarize.
In discussions, make sure everyone has a chance to speak, even the introverts. Don’t let one or two individuals dominate the conversation. If the conversation becomes chaotic, tell students to use the raise hand feature when they want to speak and you will call on them to unmute.
If you have students with disabilities follow Accessibility Best Practices for Classes Using Zoom provided by UT’s SSD office.
A. Canvas offers a variety of tools to assess student learning and provide detailed and timely feedback. The primary assessment features in Canvas are Quizzes, Assignments, and Discussions. All three allow you to set deadlines and windows of availability. All three are tied directly to the Canvas gradebook.
Quizzes allow you to create graded and ungraded quizzes, tests, and exams, as well as anonymous surveys. Multiple choice and true/false questions are automatically graded. You can also include short-answer, fill-in-the-blanks, matching, and essay questions. Other benefits include adding a proctoring service and setting time limits to exams.
When you create an Assignments, graded Discussion, or Quiz in Canvas, a row is automatically created in the Canvas gradebook. Deadlines that you enter appear in the Canvas calendar, to do list, and syllabus to help keep students on track. Assignments can be set up for assessments submitted on paper or online. For online submissions you can choose to use Turnitin to help ensure academic integrity by checking for plagiarism. You can easily view students’ online submissions and provide detailed feedback, as well a grade, in SpeedGrader.
The use of rubrics can also save time and ease in the grading process. Canvas, for instance, provides space for a customizable rubric where simple number entry calculates grades and allows for written feedback.
Technology-enhanced assessment offers benefits to the online learning environment. For example, if using multiple choice quizzes or exams, students are able to receive immediate feedback to aid in the learning process. Prompt feedback, whether it’s on exams or discussion posts, should be practiced consistently in online teaching to help benefit the student and increase teacher immediacy.
A. Proctorio is a remote proctoring system that works with Canvas Quizzes. It can be set to lock the browser and to record audio and video of students while taking a test. The system uses facial recognition algorithms to flag potential inappropriate behavior for the instructor to review. Proctorio provides security features that prevent unauthorized web browsing or content capture (e.g., screen-capturing or printing test questions). Proctorio also offers a more streamlined lock-down browser option.
What are the disadvantages of using Proctorio?
Proctorio requires students to have a laptop with at least 2GB of RAM. Mobile devices are not supported. This may limit access for students who are using tablets or smartphones.
Proctorio requires a stable broadband connection, which some students may not have.
Proctorio requires students to have a webcam and microphone, which some may not have.
Proctorio does not allow using the Canvas feature to show only one question at a time.
Students may have problems if they use keyboard shortcuts or if their computer pops up a software update.
What can I do to deter cheating without using Proctorio?
Have students agree to abide by an honor code at the beginning of the exam. Clearly outline what you consider to be cheating and then outline your penalties for proven violations. This can be the first question of the online test.
If it's a closed book test, let them know you expect them to answer without referring to books or notes. Or do an open book, open notes test, but timed so there is not enough time to look things up.
Focus questions on application and analysis rather than memorization. If students don’t know the memorized part, they can’t apply it.
Give shorter exams but ask students to apply concepts, give examples, make comparisons, provide reasons, etc.
Use the feature in Canvas that shuffles the order of multiple-choice options.
Randomize order of questions so each student sees the questions in a different sequence. Even better, create a pool of questions and set Canvas to randomly select a subset (e.g., pick 10 or 20 questions in the group) so students don’t all get the same questions. Be sure questions are an equivalent level of difficulty. You can create different question groups for questions with different levels of difficulty.
Consider giving frequent low-stakes (low point value) tests rather than a small number of high-stakes tests to reduce the pressure that may motivate cheating.
Allow students to drop the lowest of their quiz or exam scores to reduce the pressure of failing.
A. Several communication tools are available. When choosing a tool, please consider if the communication is intended for the entire class or for individual students/TA.
Individual students/TA: Canvas Inbox (email messages via Canvas) are preferred over emails through your UT account. This ensures that messages to individual students and/or the TA are private. Additionally, sending messages via Canvas keeps the conversation thread and a record of all communication between students, TAs and professors/instructors.
Whole Class: There are many options for whole class communication. When deciding which tool to use, consider:
Are you giving the class information (one-way communication)?
Do you want students to respond to you and each other?
Do you want students to be able to reference the information at a later time?
We offer a very brief overview of some of the more popular options, but please visit the Canvas guides for more in depth explanations and options available.
Inbox: Inbox is a messaging tool, similar in function to email, that can be used by anyone in a course to communicate. Instructors are able to send messages to the entire class, individual sections, groups, TAs, or individual students.
Pros: Inbox keeps the conversation thread within Canvas so you can reference it at a later time without having to keep track in your regular UT email. Because it links to students and TAs in the course, you don’t have to keep track of individual email addresses. And, any messages sent by a student can be set to show up in your UT email so you don’t have to be in Canvas to communicate with students.
Cons: You do have to be in Canvas to see the email thread; each new message that appears in your UT email does not contain the previous emails, too. Although you can send a message to the entire class, students report difficulty keeping track of that email message, especially if they need the information at a later time.
Announcements: Announcements allow the instructor to broadcast information related to course content (e.g., reminders, changes to syllabus, expectations for an assignment). Unless you delete announcements, they remain within the Canvas course and are listed by title and date.
Pros: Students reportedly have an easier time locating and referencing information in Announcements, as compared to Inbox. Instructors can post announcements as videos or as texts with file attachments. If a student adds the course after the first day of class, you can direct the student to review the announcements to catch up and not have to dig through your inbox to forward previous whole-class messages.
Cons: This is not an effective way to communicate with individual students. Although students can reply to announcements, their communication to you does not show up in your inbox/UT email.
Discussions: Discussions allow for interactive, bi-directional communication among participants of a course. Discussions can be used for general communication or as a graded assignment.
Pros: Discussions in Canvas encourage students to interact with each other. The Discussions can be open to the entire class, restricted to sections, or set up for small groups at the discretion of the instructor. Additionally, discussions can be set up for short-term posts (Focused) or longer, cumulative discussions over time (Threaded).
Cons: Instructors need to be proactive in setting expectations for the type of communication that is accepted within discussions to keep it a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for all students. It can be more time intensive for instructors and TAs to monitor and/or grade student responses.
Piazza is a free educational-oriented discussion forum where students can post questions and collaborate to edit responses to these questions. Instructors can also answer questions, endorse student answers, and edit or delete any posted content.
Pros: Piazza is easy to set up and great for student collaboration with instructor/TA supervision.
Cons: The program is not managed by UT. Unlike Canvas Discussions, it is not connected to the Canvas Gradebook.
Slack is a group chat service that has computer, web and mobile options. It is used in many newsrooms and technical-oriented businesses. It is easy to invite students to a “Team” and use “Channels” to organize classes or group discussions. It is especially useful in technical situations where students and faculty share code and files.
Pros: Slack is easy to use and common in industry so many students are already familiar (or should become familiar) with it. It allows both private and public conversations. You can control who can create both public and private channels.
Cons: Slack is not run by the university. If you want to control access after a class ends, you have to manage user accounts.
Teams is Microsoft’s group chat and video conference service. UT supports and manages the platform, which is available to all faculty, students and staff.
Pros: Faculty and staff have been auto-provisioned with the required “@austin.utexas.edu” accounts to access Teams.
Cons: Google-based “@utexas.edu” email accounts are not accepted. Students must request an Office365 email account to access Teams.
A.Canvas provides many features to help you organize your course, create an inviting learning environment, and promote student interaction. External tools provide additional options for enriching the learning experience.
Create and inviting home page: Set up the home page of your online course so students know what to do and where to go. You can choose for the home page to be Modules, the Syllabus or custom Page you create. If you select modules, make sure the first module provides information that orients students to the course and your expectations. If you select Syllabus, edit the part at the top of the page to include a link to your syllabus in Files or relevant information about your course, such as contact information for the teaching team or how to get started. Including a photo or graphic image makes the home screen more inviting. You might choose a picture of you, the textbook, a cartoon, or something relevant to the subject matter. With a Canvas Page you can include images, text telling students how to get started, and links to the other components in your course.
Organize for easy access: Modules are the easiest way to organize the components of your Canvas course to help students understand what to do when. Think of a module as a container that includes links to your course content, learning activities and assignments. Create an orientation module to help students understand the course and your expectations. Organize the course chronologically with a module for each week or unit. Link everything students need for that week into the module, including recorded lectures, Zoom meetings, reading assignments, discussions, quizzes, assignments with due dates. You can also create a “Resources” module with support information for students, such as where to find Canvas Student Tutorials, or a link to the Moody College Writing Support program.
Increase social presence: Include video in your announcements, discussion prompts, or assignments to increase your social presence.
Build community: Use Canvas Discussions to let students introduce themselves to each other. You can set up a discussion where students can ask and answer questions about the course, or have an off-topic social discussion, such as discussing their favorite foods, music, or movies. This helps build community in the course. Students can include video in their discussion posts.
Keep students on track: Create assignments with due dates to keep students on track and to make collecting and assessing student work faster and easier. Include a rubric so students know how they will be evaluated. The rubric makes grading more efficient for you and your TAs. Use SpeedGrader to provide timely and strategic feedback to students.
External enrichment tools: Beyond the features in Canvas, you can enrich the student experience with external tools. Some popular platforms that can be used to support student learning are listed below.
Badgr in Canvas: award badges when students achieve certain goals, display a leaderboard to gamify your course.
Slack is a business communication platform that allows chat rooms and discussions organized by topic or group. The free version has limited storage and integrations.
Trello is a web-based list-making and task management tool. A limited free version is available.
Discord is a free chat app that enables communication through voice, video, and text.
Timeline JS is a tool that allows students to create visually rich, interactive timelines.
Padlet is a virtual bulletin board where students can post pictures, videos, and text, and comment on other students’ posts. Although you can sign up for a limited-time free trial, free accounts are no longer available.
Amy Sanders provides a short video on tools she uses to keep students engaged.
A. Faculty are expected to hold office hours for online classes. Recurring weekly sessions are vital to the success of any online course. Canvas and Zoom give you several options. You may want to structure them informally at the same time each week so individual students or groups can show-up on a first-come, first-serve basis. Or, you may want to allow students to make appointments for one-on-one tutoring or to discuss special circumstances. Zoom lets you do both.
Some students may be unfamiliar with Zoom and hesitant about barging into a meeting that is underway. So, you may want to describe briefly in your syllabus the process for accessing the Zoom meeting. You should tell students what to expect when they enter a general meeting (how to deal with the waiting room, mute, etc.) and how to set up an appointment or to wait for admission when the professor is engaged privately with another student.
Within your Canvas course, you can schedule recurring weekly Zoom meetings for the entire semester. One of the benefits of a weekly Zoom meeting is that students always know when they can find a member of the teaching team to ask questions. Just like in-person office hours, you may find it convenient to open Zoom (with the chime notification turned on in the participant panel so you know when a student comes into the Zoom meeting) while you work on other tasks.
If you want to allow more than one student into the room for group work or for an “open” discussion, simply admit them from the waiting room as soon as they join. If you are having a group meeting and a student needs to have a private conversation about grades or a sensitive issue, you and the student can go into a breakout room while other students continue in the main room and wait for you to return.
If you want to meet with only one student at a time, you may ask students to enter their names in the text chat when they join the meeting. That way, the sequence in which they arrived is clear (like lining up outside your office door). Ask them not to use the chat feature for personal conversations because it is serving as a virtual sign-in sheet. Then you take the first person into a breakout room for a private conversation. When you are finished, return to the main room and take the next student into the breakout room. It’s important to make sure students know that if they don’t see you in the main Zoom meeting, you are in a breakout room and you will be back shortly.
Canvas has a Chat function that allows you to have real-time text chat with students. The chat feature is disabled by default and must be enabled using the navigation controls. Chat is useful for quick questions from students. There is a toggle you click to hear an audio alert when a new message comes in. Be aware that everything in the chat is visible to the whole class, so it is not appropriate for private conversations.
Scheduling tools, such as the Canvas Scheduler or Calendly, let you set up 5-minute, 10-minute, 15-minute, etc. blocks of time when students can sign up for an appointment. Scheduling tools help ensure that you know when students need to speak with you, and you aren’t necessarily sitting around waiting for students to come to virtual office hours.
It’s important to demonstrate your availability to meet with students in office hours and in scheduled private meetings. Remind students of your scheduled office hours and reinforce that you welcome their requests to meet with you outside those times. Use inviting language, such as, “Please don’t hesitate to ask if you want to schedule an appointment.”
A. Moody College faculty and graduate students can request assistance or individual consultation by emailing MoodyCATE@austin.utexas.edu.
UT's Center for Teaching and Learning provides a wide range of information and events to support teaching and learning issues.
The Commons focuses on online and blended course planning.
For 24/7 Canvas technical support, click the Help (?) icon in the left navigation panel of Canvas to see phone numbers or link to a support representative via text chat.
UT’s educational technology support team provides live virtual training on Canvas, Zoom, Panopto, and Proctorio. Recorded training is also available for on-demand support. You can schedule a one-on-one consultation.
UT’s School of Information provides numerous Panopto training videos. For specific Canvas problems or questions, contact IT support staff at Canvas@utlists.utexas.edu. For specific Zoom problems or questions, contact IT support staff at Zoom@utexas.edu.
New Canvas Apps
Qualtrics Grade Passback allows you to create a survey or quiz in Qualtrics and offer it to your students through Canvas as a graded activity. Once a student completes the survey, a completion score or performance score will be passed back to the Canvas gradebook.
Click here for resources to use this in your classroom.
Ask for Help
Email us with questions or to make an appointment to speak with a member of the CATE team.
Moody Service Desk
Location: CMA 3.104 and DMC 5.104
Office hours: M-F 8 AM to 5 PM
Classroom support: M-F 7:30 AM to 8 PM