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PIVOT Guide to Quick Online Course Delivery

This document is assembled to help you as a course instructor to transition the balance of your course from an in-person course to an on-line or distance venue. The biggest piece of advice is to keep it simple and do what you can to reduce your own stress as well as your students’ stress.

This guide provides a collection of relevant resources, but is not intended to prepare you to become an expert in on-online delivery. Rather, this guide is intended to provide you with some tools to quickly and efficiently convert face-to-face materials to online formats in order to minimize the disruption to your students’ learning.

The guide has the following 2 sections:

Section 1: TOOLKIT

This section presents some of the excellent advice out there on how to quickly - and ethically - transition your course to online delivery. While this section highlights some of the broader considerations with online delivery, the intent is practical in terms of providing step-by-step resources that minimize both instructor and student confusion. 

1A – Going on-line quickly

Suddenly having to put everything online without adequate preparation can be difficult, both for those used to online instruction and those unfamiliar with it. Experienced online instructors have been sharing tips for quickly pivoting to online learning on Twitter, with hashtags such as #CovidCampus and #RemoteTeaching.

Some of the tips and best practices can be summarized as:

  1. Start simple. Think about your main objectives, and find the simplest tools and ways to meet them. Simpler tools - text, minimal video - are more likely to be accessible to a broader range of students, including those who may only have a mobile device.
  2. Try to use platforms and tools (such as Nexus) with which your students are already familiar. By building on prior knowledge and skills sets, the students can focus on the newer parts rather than feeling overwhelmed by unfamiliarity.
  3. Think about students’ privacy when using digital tools, and communicate with them about how much data may be collected.
  4. How will students access course materials? Have they been made available online? This is something your liaison librarian can likely help you navigate if not.
  5. Rethink assignments and participation - what do you absolutely need to measure, how much has already been measured, and what is the simplest way to check the remainder?
  6. Be transparent and communicative. Decide how you will check in on students who may be falling behind, and how you will keep everyone interested and engaged. Online content typically needs to be broken into smaller chunks than in-class lectures.
1B – Tools

Nexus, the online Learning Management System, has many built in tools for online course delivery, including the ability to embed content, set up your online course readings, and conduct quizzes.

The University of Winnipeg has a selection of supports to help instructors and faculty members in the transition from face-to-face teaching required by the COVID-19 situation. Please see here for support materials.

1C – Modifying PowerPoints with Audio

Many instructors have already prepared their lectures using PowerPoint slides while intending to deliver the content face to face. Although not optimal in terms of online delivery, a quick and easy way to deliver this content is to add audio to your slides and to post them on Nexus. Here are some links that will show you how to do that. Please be sure that you are following the instructions for the type of computer you are using (MAC or PC).

You may want to keep the audio file separate for each slide instead of having one long narration. The benefits of this approach are that 1) the content is delivered in smaller chunks (which is a recommended principle of online delivery), 2) the students can stop and replay the audio related to a specific slide if they need another attempt at understanding, and 3) the instructor is not required to start all over again if the doorbell rings or the dog barks while recording the audio for the entire show at once.

Once your slides are ready to go, you can upload them to Nexus as content, the same way you would upload any other course materials.

Please be cautious about uploading slides that include copyrighted materials and images, including photographs and graphics. If you are unsure, simply remove the images you have included in the slides you prepared beforehand, and/or replace them with slides from these sites. Please also consider that some students will use their phones to access the materials and that using images will result in higher data loads (and potentially costs) to them.

1D – Accessibility

As courses move to online, there will be multiple accessibility concerns for students. You may need to talk to your class to determine if there are students who cannot access the internet from home, don't have a computer, are deaf or hard of hearing, are visually impaired, or have other particular accessibility needs. Please be sure to respect confidentiality as you request information about the supports your learners will need to access the course materials online. Some basic ways you can strive for universal accessibility include:

  • Make sure lectures are available as both text and audio. If you write your lectures out, make a recording so students with visual impairments can also access it. If you talk first, make a transcript ( YouTube has some limited capacity for this).
  • Keep text simple (no ASCII images!) for screen reader accessibility
  • Provide descriptive and contextual alt text for images
  • Do not provide your own scanned PDFs of readings. Contact Course Reserves, who will make an accessible scan.
  • Accessibility Tips

An overview compiled by Yiu-Ting Siu including Classroom Best Practices, Documents Accessibility, Multimedia Accessibility, and more.

Northwestern Guide for more detailed information on making an online course accessible.

When you present slides, you can turn on automatic captions to display the speaker's words in real time.

This feature is available in U.S. English.

1E – Privacy

As you start using online tools, please be aware of any privacy implications of the tools you are using, and communicate to students if the site they are using does things like allow for third party re-use of data, records their data, and how that is shared with you as the instructor (if, for example, you will get logs of everything said in chat).

Ethical, easy-to-use and privacy-conscious alternatives to well-known software

The Library Freedom Project has a guide to things to consider from a privacy perspective with a move to online.

1F – Supporting Our Students

Instructors and faculty member should be communicating with all students about whether or not they have internet access. Internet access should not be assumed.  

Please consider that some of our students are feeling anxious about their courses and self-isolation.  Please consider acknowledging that “this is an unprecedented situation” and “we will be working carefully with students to make sure they are safe and have fair access to complete their studies.”  Students should self-identity if they have concerns with course materials so that alternative arrangements can be made.  Please reach out to any student you are concerned about to make sure there are no additional concerns.  Finally, instructors can encourage students to be “positive and take the opportunity to learn about how to cope in this new learning environment.” Student supports are available through University of Winnipeg Counselling. Please see https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/student-wellness/

1G – More Tips and Ideas from Colleagues

A meta resource compiled by Jacqueline Wernimont (Dartmouth, USA) & Cathy N. Davidson (CUNY Grad Center, USA). Includes resources for teaching online, digital tools and uses, tutorials, ideas for assignments, and more.

Astronomy prof Andrew Vanden Huevel offers ten clear and concise tips for how to make online course material clear and concise.

Steel Wagstaff's quick guide to considerations when moving online quickly.

A structured way to think through putting your course online quickly.

Dr. Lindsey Passenger Wieck on Pedagogy Playground offers simple ideas based on pragmatism and kindness - and familiar tools like Google Docs.

A step-by-step tutorial for online, hybrid, and flipped learning.

A resource that may be useful to share with your students.

Dr. Peggy Semingson offers six short YouTube tutorials on teaching online during a campus shutdown.

Professor Rebecca Kreitzer from UNC Chapel Hill provides tips for using Slack, YouTube, and the online Learning Management System to deliver course content.

Data Scientist Elizabeth Wickes shares tips on running an online workshop.


These resources focus on tools available specifically to the UWinnipeg Community, including Library resources that may help you in online course delivery.

2A – Overview

This section focuses on some of the tools provided by UWinnipeg that may help transition a class to online. 

A simple online class might include:

Much of the content you regularly use in teaching is licensed by the Library, or covered by an educational exception or fair dealing defense in the Copyright Act, but you should still pay attention to your copyright obligations. Don't forget to cite your sources!

2B – Nexus

The UWinnipeg Online Learning Management system is Nexus, which is administered by Student Learning Technologies Support. 

Nexus allows you to put course content, readings, quizzes, and other course related materials all in one location, which students can access if they are registered in the course.

Nexus is the online Learning Management System we use at the University of Winnipeg. The Nexus team has created resources including instructions for getting online, tutorial videos, and FAQs.

Login with your WebAdvisor username and password.

2C – Course Readings and Reserves

The Library administers the Course Readings/ Reserves service (via a tool called Ares). Course Reserves allows:

  • Reading materials to be made online for courses on Nexus, as well as those courses without a Nexus component. 
  • Students can see all of the Reserve Readings in one easy online interface.
  • Course Reserves can be done either with the assistance of Library staff, or self-service.
  • Course Reserves includes checks and balances for Copyright Compliance.
  • Course Reserves Instructor Manual 
    Covers everything you need to learn how to use the Course Reserves system.
2D – Journals and Databases

If you aren't already, familiarize yourself with the many online databases and journals that UWinnipeg Library offers in support of teaching and research.

For most, logging in to the proxy server will be required in order to access from home. Login using your WebAdvisor username and password.

Databases are collections of organized content, including journals and articles, magazines, newspapers, and more. Some databases (like JSTOR and Academic Search Complete) are large collections of articles across different subjects, while others are focused on a specific area of study (like PubMed, PsychInfo, or Sociology Abstracts). These specialized databases can help make your searching easier, often by having ways of searching that are specific to your discipline. You can browse databases by subject from this page. Some databases offer the full text of articles right in the database, while others provide the abstract and a link to finding the article. We also provide databases of specific formats, such as newspapers, archival documents, government publications, and numeric data. To see these options, you can browse databases by content type. You can also search for a specific named database, or browse for it by the first letter of the database's name. Please note that the contents of most databases are available through using the main searchbox on our homepage.

Academic journals are collections of articles on specific subjects (like the Harvard Business Review, the Modern Language Journal, or Nature). This page is a way to find the University of Winnipeg holdings of particular journals, either in print or online, by searching for journals by their title or subject. If you know the full title of a journal, you can either search for it or jump to titles beginning with that letter and browse. You can also search or browse for publications about a broad subject area. Available holdings will display under the journal title. Please note that if you are searching for particular articles, rather than the entire journal, this is available by using the main searchbox on our homepage.

2E – Open Textbook/ Educational Resources

There are a growing number of high quality, scholarly, Open Textbooks and Open Educational resources. These resources typically allow adoption for classes for free, and adaptation. They may be a useful resource for ready-made online-instructional materials.

Find sources for free and openly licensed teaching and studying materials.

2F – Streaming Videos

The Library subscribes to a number of educational streaming on demand services. In order to use for online learning, proxy login will be required.

Note that due to costs and bandwidth requirements, these services are limited. They also have requirements for display. 

Kanopy is a video streaming platform that offers a broad selection of documentaries, feature films, and educational videos that can be viewed from anywhere, anytime. Collections include: Criterion Collection, PBS, HBO, New Day Films, The Great Courses, California Newsreel, Kino Lorber, Media Education Foundation, and many more. 

The Library will be changing video activation for the Kanopy streaming video platform this spring. Currently, Kanopy video leases are automatically “triggered” after 30 seconds of viewing, which means that costs are incurred on per-use basis. After a pilot year of monitoring, adjusting access, and negotiating alternatives for frequently triggered content (such the Criterion Collection), this model continues to be unsustainable. After the current Kanopy fund pool is expired (or April 1st - whichever comes first) Instructors and Professors will need to request Kanopy video licenses through their subject librarian.

Criterion on Demand is a feature film platform that provides access to educationally relevant feature films from a wide variety of major producers, such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Sony Pictures Classics, Alliance Films, Miramax Films etc... The titles include 1920 classics, new releases, foreign films, literary adaptations, documentaries, animated titles, and independent features. Films are in English and French, and have subtitled/captioned versions when available.

Important Details:

Video titles from Twentieth Century-Fox Collection (20th Century Fox) are limited to on-campus use only.

Criterion-on-Demand will not work on a mobile device.

You are permitted to download or stream Licensed Materials solely for personal, non-commercial and educational or research viewing. You are not permitted to stream a film for entertainment uses (such as university events open to the public or a student club holding a movie night, an entertainment license is needed for this).

2G – Copyright Considerations

There are a number of provisions in the Copyright Act the enable teaching and learning without undue restrictions. It is generally held that activities that are permissible in the classroom are permissible in an online learning classroom. We encourage you to use the Nexus platform in combination with Ares when sharing materials, as this restricts access to those currently enrolled in the course.

Specific provisions include educational exceptions and the fair dealing exceptions.

Fair Dealing allows use of copyrighted materials for uses that are for allowable purposes (including education) and that are considered "fair". More details on the Fair Dealing Guidelines are available here.

There are a number of specific guidelines for various media/ formats available at the Copyright Office site.

If you are looking for a very simple flowchart for deciding how to present online course materials in a way that is Copyright Compliant, check out our Course Material Copyright Basics.

If you have additional copyright questions, please contact Brianne Selman, Scholarly Communications and Copyright Librarian.

*Please note that any links to online materials that you present in your presentations must be copyright compliant.

We acknowledge the work of the collective team of University of Winnipeg staff and faculty members who collaborated on this resource guide: Brianne Selman, Laura Sokal, Hayley La Tour, Lloyd Kornelsen, Jeannie Kerr, and Sheri Skwarchuk.