Student working at computer

The COVID-19 pandemic has left universities across the country scrambling to find alternative ways to educate students for extended periods of time. This rush to online learning has challenged students' and faculty's creativity, flexibility and patience. Temple University moved to online and alternative learning methods on Monday, March 16. 

To help ease the transition, the College of Education reached out to various departments asking for tips, tricks and recommendations for both students and faculty as they settle into online learning. Here is a selection of faculty advice for online learning and teaching. 


Maintain Structure

"I recommend that students try to maintain as much of a structure as possible in terms of the days and times that they spend working on their online course(s). This is of particular importance in asynchronous online courses in which students do not need to log in at a specific day or time to meet in real-time with their instructor and classmates." - Joseph Paris, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Plan Ahead

"I recommended my students plan their time week by week and told them the best way to do it is to keep their regular class times as a block of time for working on online materials for a specific course. Of course, asynchronous online learning has some flexibility in when to complete assignments (which is often considered as an advantage), but due to that flexibility, [students] are likely to wait until the last minute and fall behind if [they] are not truly self-directed in their learning." - Insook Han, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning

Hold Yourself Accountable

"Communication is key. Instructors can't read the minds of their students, and instructors also can't get a sense of students' body language because we aren't sitting in class together. If there is an issue, students need to reach out. During this time, I would imagine, most instructors will be overly accommodating to student needs." -  Ben Torsney, Assistant Professor of Instruction

"Stay informed by reading announcements, emails from instructors, make a timetable for your schedule, develop/exercise skills for time management, and take this as a chance to become a self-directed learner!" - Insook Han, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning

Be Strong… and Breathe

"Be methodical, establish routines, read assignments and ask questions if [you're] unclear about what is required. Do not assume your questions are stupid as you need to know what is expected of you. Pay attention to due dates and establish a calendar of them so you see where crunch times will hit you. Be strong and work with the faculty who, like you, did not ask for this change in instruction." - Catherine Schifter, Special Assistant to the Dean for Online/Blended Teaching/Learning


Get Organized

"I made a master page on Canvas that shows a timeline with important deadlines, synchronous activities (if any planned) along with embedded links to assignment/discussion or corresponding activity pages and recommended dates for starting class projects - basically, everything you think will help students to plan their time upfront. This actually helps me as well when I send out announcements to students - just copy/paste weekly to-do activities as a reminder and this way I can also use languages in a more consistent manner when communicating with students." - Insook Han, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning

"Every Monday morning, I send my students a weekly email that includes a list of items to complete that week as well as the topics and goals they should focus on that week. I think these weekly emails help to keep my students engaged, on track, and well-organized." - Joseph Paris, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Be Flexible

"I recommend that faculty be as flexible as possible, particularly if they are new to online teaching. Faculty new to online teaching should not attempt to replicate their face-to-face teaching practices in an online environment. Rather, they should embrace the fact that online teaching is an entirely different modality and therefore requires a specific set of practices to promote student engagement and learning." - Joseph Paris, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Stick to the Essentials

"Determine what is absolutely essential and what is extra in your readings, assignments and assessments. Remember, all courses are now online, not just yours, so be mindful of students' needs and requirements. Reach out to students who are delayed in responding to discussions or assignments to indicate you are concerned." - Catherine Schifter, Special Assistant to the Dean for Online/Blended Teaching/Learning

"[Faculty] have to have an open line of communication with our students. We also need to check in with our students, and not be personally offended when they don't respond to our inquiries. Sending a message to a student shows that you care, even if there isn't a response. Students need to know that you are there for them." - Ben Torsney, Assistant Professor of Instruction

"It is important for faculty members to regularly communicate with students, but not to saturate them with communications. Students must be engaged in their online course, but not feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks, requirements, communications, etc." - Joseph Paris, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Be Present

"Instructor's presence is a key factor in online teaching so try to 'be there' with your students by using multiple channels for communication - announcements, emails, comments on assignments and discussion boards." - Insook Han, Assistant Professor of Teaching and Learning

"Be present in your course as often as is reasonable since you are now teaching multiple courses online. If you feel overloaded, so do the students." - Catherine Schifter, Special Assistant to the Dean for Online/Blended Teaching/Learning

"Short response times are important. I think [faculty] need to show that we are still engaged in our classes and that we still have our students' achievement in mind." - Ben Torsney, Assistant Professor of Instruction

Temple University remains committed to providing its community with resources and support during this uncertain time. At this time, Tuttleman Counseling Services is providing remote services to students during the hours of 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, Temple Cherry Pantry remains open for several hours a week, offering students pre-packaged bags of non-perishables available for pick up at the TUPD Morgan Substation, and Temple Libraries is offering remote support for both learners and instructors. Please continue to visit the COVID-19 tab in TU Portal for the most up to date information on available resources and support.