Teaching Online Resources IHPME (TORI)

(Re)-designing your Course for Online or Hybrid Delivery

IHPME Webinar: Designing Your Course for Online & Hybrid/Blended Delivery (1 hour)

Recordings available : Click Here for Webinar Recordings

Tips for teaching online from IHPME faculty

Below is a list of tips and ideas that course instructors have found useful, as well as some of the things they found challenging. These instructors kindly agreed to share their insights. Feel free to use whatever works for you. Some ideas may work for some instructors, but not for others.

Lessons learned and things that worked well:

Preparation and on-going improvements

  • Ask for feedback after each class (the one-minute evals), and use that feedback to make changes to the format. Start each class with the feedback from previous class. Be transparent.
  • Spend time between classes to reflect and prepare e.g., how to pare down lectures to shorter, more manageable sessions for pre-viewing prior to an in-class recap.
  • Pre-test and re-test the Zoom platform with tutors/course mentors to ensure comfort with the technology (including sending reminder emails or calendar invites with the zoom link) and ways to shorten the time to get students into breakout rooms.
  • Make PowerPoint slide decks openly available to the students before class so they can still follow if they have to dial-in.
  • Make time to talk about how everyone is doing. The pressures are unprecedented with work and home life, and creating the space to share and also get perspective on how to navigate was valued.

Lectures, in-class time management

  • Be honest that this way of teaching is new to all of us and that we will learn and improve together. Thus, class feedback is essential.
  • Invest in the interactions and create a sense of social cohesion and connection. As examples, ask students to reflect on their own environment based on theoretical concepts presented, 1-minute life mission introduction, post group presentations on Quercus and ask each student to provide feedback on a set number of presentations.
  • Do shorter, didactic presentations and use multiple ways to engage students in discussion like polling, chat box, Kahoot friendly competition to answer questions, and break outs
  • Use “flipped classes:” pre-record short (10 to 15 minutes) presentations to provide foundations and use class-time for active learning (exercises, case, studies, role-play, problem solving, etc.)
  • Provide frequent breaks (we got this feedback consistently); e.g., in a 3 hour class two 5 minute breaks and a longer 20 minute break in the middle. Active breaks with exercises, dance, or brief mindfulness sessions help relive strain. See some exercises here: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/office/stretching.html
  • Use a second monitor if you can (which may be a “Smart TV”) so you have the zoom window on one monitor and presentation (and other material) on the other
  • Recording sessions: we previously recommended not recording due to storage issues. In revisiting this, fall faculty suggested that recording may help students who missed class or had to step away at points, as well as for students who are connecting from a different time zone.

Guest speakers

  • Zoom makes it easier to bring in guest speakers from anywhere in the world
  • The chat allow students who may not speak in class to participate. Provide time for students to engage with guests using both audio and the chat. Have someone monitor the chat.
  • Ask guest speakers to record a 15-minute presentation for students to review before class. In class, give students 15 minutes to work in small groups and prepare questions for the guest speaker. Then bring the guest in and use the in-class time with the guest speaker for Q&A (each group gets to ask 1-2 questions)
  • Use the chat function for the students to share what they learned, what they valued from the presentation and the impact that person had on them. You can save the chat and then send this feedback to the guest speaker.

Assignments and group work

  • Hold an ‘assignment café,’ separate from class time to enable students to both debrief on their first assignment grading and discuss how to approach the second assignment
  • Hold virtual office hours for questions about assignments
  • Allocate time for students to work on group assignments during class; use breakout rooms.
  • Set up individual 30-minute calls with groups who want it to talk through their assignments
  • Allow flexibility around assignment due dates when people ask for extensions
  • Adjust assignments to reduce work load if needed; engage students in these decision


  • Lacking the ‘informal’ pre- and post- class time with students. We therefore made room for that, per above
  • Making more time for breaks
  • Connectivity problems. If you rely on WiFi, make sure you are close enough to the modem to get a good signal. Have the phone dial-in information handy, and assign a co-host to handle things for when you lose connection.
  • Make extra effort to be aware of the class’ mood online (e.g., drained after a big assignment for another class and a full couple of days of classes), and adjust on the fly with more breaks, an energizing activity, or a slower pace.

Additional University Resources

Supporting Course Resiliency – Best Practices for Teaching Staff

Click here for a resource from the Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs including:

  • sensible advice on recording grades, communicating with students, and assignment submissions
  • U of T protocol for modifying course evaluation methods (adherence important if changing assignments)
  • information on online learning technologies supported by U of T

U of T Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation’s Continuity Planning resource

Click here for a “one-stop-shop” with general, comprehensive information on academic continuity, including:

  • statement that the U of T Governing Council Policy on Academic Continuity (link accessible) situates the responsibility for academic continuity with instructors, who are responsible for:
    • Preparing course syllabi in a manner that supports academic continuity
    • Altering course procedures, requirements and methods of evaluation in consultation with academic administrators to help ensure academic continuity
  • Making reasonable accommodations for students who are unable to attend classes or complete academic requirements due to a disruption.
  • a straightforward Continuity Planning Checklist 
  • a very informative Quick Guide to Continuity Planning with additional resources relating to online course delivery through various means (Quercus, and beyond)
  • information of U of T-supported educational technologies, including workshops and consultation services
  • other quick links relating to contacting students during a disruption, pre-recorded videos, hosting online sessions, managing assessments during a disruption, links to U of T Campus Status Page, and U of T Policy on Academic Continuity.