Blog Post

Thoughts & Resources for Those About to Start Teaching Online Due to COVID-19

image of computer on table with coffee and pad of paper

I've spent a lot of time in the digital pedagogy world and while it's not my area of research working within FemTechNet and here at HASTAC means that I've got some expertise that might be helpful for those who are doing this for the first time and under duress.

For the time being, I sincerely think it is worth treating this as unusual - an emergency response, rather than expecting yourself to spin up a well-developed online course. As many people have noted, it takes training, resources, and technology (with support) to do this as a regular practice. I used to work at ASU where departments had studios for developing web-ready content and there was a suite of people whose job it was to help. This is not that scenario. I’ll write more for the longer-term planning another time.

It is useful to talk to your students about the new expectations - including making room for insufficient technical infrastructure, anxiety, and illness in students/family. Ground yourself in the course goals/outcomes you already wrote (you did do that, I hope) and then think about what can reasonably meet some or all of those goals. Additionally, if you know what platform you and your students will be using, please take some time and talk with everyone about minimum operating requirements for those tools. Have students upload anything they may need before they need it.

Asynchronicity is your friend here - think about what *must* be done as a collective (if anything) and what can be done using blog posts, discussion boards, and other tools that are likely already a part of your existing course management system. For reasons of student safety and FERPA, I’d encourage using tools that are already a part of your university system for this kind of asynchronous communication. If you already use public media, then by all means continue, but I don’t encourage people to require students to publicly perform on the internet. That said, you’ll find tools for a more open classroom here as well.

A word on proprietary systems - I dislike them and I’m not into feeding the disaster capitalism machine. THAT SAID - this is an urgent response. You can do certain things (discussed in the linked document) if you have the capacity. That said, if you have little time (as is the case here) it may be easier to roll activities onto your existing CMS. What I do not suggest is that you upload all of your intellectual content onto the CMS -- so recording all lectures, discussions, etc. Depending on your contract, that may become someone else’s intellectual property (remember that I was at ASU where teaching online meant letting go of IP). You can live stream synchronous events (twitch, for example) rather than record or you can serve the recordings in other locations (like in a private YouTube channel).

The linked document is an open living resource - feel free to use the google form to request editing access or share resources.

I'm including some of the key resources here because the google doc is having some performance issues due to heavy use. This set is less rapidly updated and much smaller than the full list but should also be helpful.

Getting Started for You and Your Students

Questions to ask students about online course feasibility (Danya Glabau)

Dr. Caleb McDaniel’s and Dr. Jenifer Bratter’s Tips for Learning During Disruption

 Dr. Laura Gibbs' General practical advice for teaching online by a long-time online prof

5 Things To Know About Coronavirus And People With Disabilities

Collected Resources on Digital Tools and Uses

Minimum Viable Course thread

Aimi Hamraie’s Mapping Access: Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID or her excellent thread on accessibility within content management systems (like Blackboard etc)

A curation of tweets, links and tips for teaching online with care in mind, thinking beyond the technical

Torrie Trust’s slide deck:   Teaching Remotely in Times of Need

NYU Shanghai’s “Digital Toolkit” - developed especially for the rapid deployment of online teaching. Includes resources for grading, discussions, webinars for particular tools, and lessons learned from colleagues in China.

Humanities Commons Bringing Your Course Online

Amanda Henrich’s A Crash Course for Switching to Online (SLAC oriented)

Jenae Cohn’s and Beth Seltzer’s (evolving) collection of resources for teaching effectively during times of disruption (Stanford focus, mentioned: Canvas, Zoom)

Remote Academia 2020 Resources

Resources for Moving Your Creative Writing Class Online

Resources for Dance-based Pedagogy Online (via Jessica Rajko)

Inside Higher Ed’s Running a COVID-19 Necessitated Online Meeting

Stacey Margarita’s Putting Our Language Courses Online 




If you are registered as a HASTAC member, you can begin to create a Group for your class right now.  In a Group, you and your students can blog and you can make your blogs either public to anyone (including non-HASTAC members) or private to your Group.  You can use it for announcements too.

If you are not HASTAC member, you can fill out the registration form and we will work hard to approve your registration as soon as possible.  (Approval is needed to prevent spammers, as much as possible, and to protect our community and keep it a constructive, positive space.)

For the basics of how to create a Group, go to:


Here is how we describe HASTAC for the Group members in our Course:

HASTAC is a network of over 17,300  students, professors, authors, activists, technology developers, and educators committed to “changing the way we teach and learn.”  Another motto: “Difference is our operating system.” When one posts on HASTAC, the goal is to present information in a way that will be useful and meaningful to students and educators beyond our classroom.  

  • Membership is free but requires registration and approval (typically this takes 2-3 business days; we will try to speed this up).

  • If you wish to use a pseudonym for your posts, you will have that option when you register. You won’t be able to change later.  

    • There are many reasons to post using your own name on HASTAC, including translating your work to a larger public audience for the public good; having a respectable digital citation for your resume (for some, this will be a first academic publication and a real bonus for your resume); being part of a larger user community, etc.

    • The reasons to post using a pseudonym include: your comfort with online identity; your concern that future employers might be concerned about your political/social ideas; an array of personal issues that prompt anonymity for security issues.

    • We will discuss this in class but you are responsible for thinking through the issues and your own comfort level online when you register. 

  • HASTAC is known as the “ethical Facebook” because it never misuses or sells user data.

  • It’s a DRUPAL-powered (ie. community created) site. You need to add tags to your post and you need to make sure to check whether you want your post private to our Group or seen by the public and you have to designate which Group you wish to post to.

  • HASTAC is a dynamic social network to which any HASTAC member can post, as long as their post stays roughly within topic, is not commercial, and is never insulting to other members. (NB: If you see commercial ads on the site, let us know. Hackers--human not bot--are paid to put commercial content on well-trafficked sites and we are in a constant battle to take these down when we see them.)


For an example of an evolving class that uses HASTAC groups, you can visit our "Introduction to Engaged Teaching and Transformative Learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences Group" :


I am presently sitting in a webinar about this very topic. Thank you.