Learning Design Tips for Distance Teaching

Implementing good learning design strategies for online teaching is not only recommended for distance education, but is a beneficial pedagogical practice to implement in all classroom environments – virtual, blended, or in-person. Proper online learning design increases accessibility for communication, course materials, modes of assessment, and asynchronous participation. Understanding and applying these processes can help improve the student experience and prepare you in advance for emergency situations and campus closures that may call for distance teaching.

Communicate with students early and often

  • Access student roster with their email addresses through FSC (https://ssc.adm.ubc.ca/fsc/home).
  • Use Canvas announcements to keep students informed.
  • Record short videos for your students to establish a sense of community and presence online
  • Send notifications through Canvas. Advise students to change their notification alert settings.
  • Use Mattermost for real-time communication.

Record lectures and share for asynchronous viewing

  • Teach in real time through Zoom and record your session. Share recording for later viewing for those who are unable to join or need a recap.
  • Use Kaltura to record and upload your lectures.

Share course content

  • Upload PDFs, website links, PPTs, or Word documents in Canvas.
  • Alert students through Mattermost or Canvas announcements when new content is available.
  • Track student access through Canvas analytics.

Rethink tasks and assignments

  • Harness the power of online discussions in Canvas. Encourage students to make multi-modal postings through Canvas’s recording tool.
  • Set up assignment submission drop boxes.
  • Use quizzes in Canvas to get feedback from students.
  • Set up groups for small group discussions in Canvas.

Schedule appointments


For more learning design advice specific to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out Tony Bates’ list of tips for transitioning into virtual teaching.