Teaching Remotely

FAQs on Teaching Remotely for Instructors

These FAQs are intended to address questions specific to all instructors of record for the 2020-21 Academic Year. For questions regarding technology or digital tools, please visit the Remote Technology FAQsPlease check back frequently for the latest FAQs and updated guidance.

In addition to reviewing the FAQs, we recommend instructors read through the Instructor Guide for Remote and Hybrid Instruction.

For tips on how to stay secure while using Zoom, go to Secure Zoom Meetings and Webinars.

General Questions

If my courses are fully remote, do I have the option of teaching my class on campus?

Yes. Instructors with offices may use their offices to teach remotely or to hold office hours, as long as they practice safe physical distancing and appropriate PPE use in the presence of others. There is no mechanism for instructors who have not been assigned classrooms to reserve classrooms to teach from. Please reach out to your chair or dean prior to coming to campus to determine if your office is open and to ensure you have access to the building. 

Should the City of Chicago issue a new stay-at-home order, University buildings will be closed and accessible by appointment, only to those with keycard access. The University will consider designating instructors as essential personnel at the request of deans, on a very limited case-by-case basis and for teaching purposes only. In these cases, we may identify specific classrooms for teaching and recording course sessions, and those classrooms will be cleaned after each use. Contact your dean with further questions.

Updated: October 12, 2020

How will the course shopping period work in 2020-21?

The College is requesting that all 2020-21 instructors teaching College courses publish their Canvas courses and post their syllabus on their Canvas Syllabus page during the first week of classes. All students will be able to access these syllabi (though only registered students will have access to the other parts of the Canvas course site) and may add classes until 11:59pm on the Friday of first week. Please note that instructors continue to have discretion about whether to participate in the add/drop period and the information they post on their syllabi for students. Registration guidelines for graduate and professional students may differ by Division or School. Please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or Dean’s Office with any additional questions about add/drop periods in your program.

All students who would like to shop a course, whether in person or remote, will need to obtain the instructor’s permission before attending a class, either remotely or in person. Remote students must email the instructor to obtain a Zoom link. Students interested in attending an in-person class will need to obtain the permission of the instructor by email prior to visiting the class, and upon approval, will need to follow any additional directions or protocols provided by the instructor. Any student who shows up to an in-person course without prior permission of the instructor will not be allowed access to the classroom.

First Weeks of Classes: Academic Year 2020-21

Fall Quarter: September 29 – October 2, 2020

Winter Quarter: January 11 – 15, 2021

Spring Quarter: March 29 – April 2, 2020

Updated: November 30, 2020

What if my course is an experiential, studio- or lab-based class and does not lend itself to being taught remotely?

Divisions and schools are working closely with their instructors to address concerns related to experiential, studio-, or lab-based courses and to develop solutions for hybrid and remote courses. In most cases, instructors’ courses can be adapted to a remote learning environment, but please contact your unit’s Dean’s Office, your Department Chair, or your Program Director to discuss your specific course.

For additional information on how to adapt your course for remote or hybrid instruction, please visit the Pedagogical Guidance page.

Posted: September 16, 2020

Preparing to Teach Remotely

How can I prepare to teach remotely?

Begin by going to the Teaching Remotely Course Set-up page to make sure you have the necessary hardware and software for online teaching.

If you do not have the necessary equipment for remote teaching (camera-ready computer, tablet, or mobile device) or are having issues with internet connectivity, please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or your unit’s Dean’s Office to see how they can assist.

The Instructor Guide for Remote and Hybrid Instruction is a great resource for guidance on best practices for remote pedagogy, as well as building courses and selecting digital learning tools.

Updated: November 30, 2020

How do I access my Zoom account? Where can I go with questions about Zoom or to access Zoom resources?

Zoom accounts have been set up for instructors. Some instructors may not have previously used this platform and will need training. For resources on using Zoom and Canvas, please see the Teaching Remotely training page or IT Services’ web conferencing resources. Additionally, you may review general Zoom training videos and tutorials.

For individual support on setting up your remote teaching, please complete this brief Contact Us form.

Updated: November 30, 2020

What if I don’t have access to the technology needed for teaching remotely?

If you do not have a camera-ready computer, tablet, or mobile device, please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or your unit’s Dean’s Office. Please note that supplies are limited, so your unit administrators will do their best to accommodate your request.

Posted: September 16, 2020

How can I improve my internet access at home?

If you are teaching remotely from your home and you experience internet access issues, start by contacting your local internet Service Provider (ISP) for more information about services, pricing, and estimated installation dates. 

If you need further support or these options don’t provide you with adequate internet access, please contact your Department Chair, Program Director, or your unit’s Dean’s Office to discuss alternative options.

Posted: September 18, 2020

How do I add my syllabus to the Canvas Syllabus page?

On the Syllabus Page, you can upload a Syllabus file by

  1. Click the Edit button at the top right.
  2. In the Rich Text Editor for the content, put your cursor to where you want to insert the file.
  3. Then on the right side, look for the Files tab. Note: if your browser window size is too small, the Files tab may float to the bottom of the page.  Click on it and you can either select a file that has already been uploaded to Canvas or upload a new file using the Upload a new file link.

Be sure to click the maroon Update Syllabus button to save your work.

It may be useful to view the Introduction to Canvas workshop. The Upload Your Syllabus section starts at 6 minutes and 30 seconds on the recording.  (You can also use the Table of Contents on the left hand side to get to 6:30 quickly.)


Posted: September 16, 2020

What platforms should I use for teaching remotely? May I use any platforms besides those recommended by the University?

The University supports  Zoom, Canvas, Panopto and their embedded tools for remote teaching. 

Zoom – video-conferencing software to manage large or small group online presentations and discussions. Zoom is your key tool for face-to-face teaching online. Get training  |  More resources

Canvas – course management software for organizing and sharing materials, hosting asynchronous discussions, and grading student assignments.                      Get training  |  More resources

Panopto – software that provides simple tools for producing, presenting and annotating videos.                                                                                                         Get training  |  More resources

The University also has contracts for the following products, which meet University requirements for FERPA and include features for accessibility: Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite, and Box.

Posted: September 16, 2020

May I use any platforms besides those recommended by the University?

If you are interested in supplementary digital tools, please view the complete list of supported tools in the Instructor Guide for Remote and Hybrid Instruction. Due to resource limitations, IT Services will not be able to support tools outside of those mentioned in the guide for remote learning.

Updated: November 30, 2020

Who can I contact centrally or in my unit for tech support?

If you typically contact your school or divisional IT services for support, then please contact them first. If you typically contact central IT Services, please do continue to do so. You may also complete a request for support regarding teaching remotely , and someone will get back to you in a timely manner. This list of IT contacts in each unit may also be helpful.

Posted: September 16, 2020

Best Practices for Remote Teaching

Where can I learn more and find best practices for remote teaching and learning?

The Instructor Guide for Remote and Hybrid Teaching takes instructors through options for how to structure and design in-person and remote courses, provides a detailed list of ITS supported digital learning tools, and shares pedagogical considerations. The guide also provides guidance on preparing syllabi and managing classroom behavior during COVID. 

For additional resources for remote and hybrid instruction, please visit our Pedagogical Guidedance page. 

Updated: November 30, 2020

How can I optimize classroom time teaching a remote or hybrid course?

Updated: November 30, 2020

Academic Year 2020-21 Policies

How can I make sure students are informed of new or extended remote policies?

All instructors should have a syllabus with policies and classroom expectations available to students on the course Canvas page in an accessible format. For recommended language and the appropriate links to policies, please refer to the Syllabus Guidance Section of the Instructor Guide to Hybrid and Remote Instruction.

Instructors should attempt to be explicit with expectations in both hybrid and remote courses, and make sure syllabi contain information regarding the class policies regarding absences and late work, as well as links to the recording and deletion policies.

Courses with an in person component should also link to the UChicago Health Pact, and provide information on how to report healthpact violations or COVID-19 exposure. Text regarding this information is available to be copied from the instructor guide.

Updated: November 30, 2020

Does the University have a formal policy on attendance under COVID-19?

In order to allow students to follow quarantine guidelines, instructors should be prepared to offer students the ability to complete their coursework remotely while they self-isolate or quarantine.

Students that have been exposed to or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact  UChicago Student Wellness immediately to be tested, reach out to their instructors directly and shift to remote. Any student who is severely ill and unable to attend or complete their work remotely should be referred to their area Dean of Students and make arrangements. Students should remain remote until:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared and;
  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, which is defined as the absence of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., no remaining cough or shortness of breath).

Posted: September 18, 2020

Will I be asked to record my course sessions? How can these recordings be accessed by students?

Instructors have the discretion to record course sessions, except when recording is required to meet the needs of students granted an accommodation by the Office of Student Disability Services and in accordance with the Academic Year 2020–2021 Recording Policy.

Instructors who record course sessions should post those recordings on the course’s Canvas site. Students attending the course session will be able to access recorded course sessions posted on the course’s Canvas site.

Posted: September 16, 2020

Accessibility for Remote Learners

How will I know if any students need accommodations for my remote class?

Instructors of record should first confirm if they have received formal notification of a student’s approved accommodations via an emailed accommodation determination letter from Student Disability Services (SDS). The notification will provide details regarding how the accommodation applies to a class and what accommodations may need to be implemented. If a student indicates that they need an accommodation for a disability but does not have a determination letter from SDS, please ask the student to contact SDS.

We recommend engaging early with students who have submitted accommodation requests to understand their needs and set reasonable expectations. It is important to remember this is a challenging time, filled with uncertainty, and our students may need a little more support. If you have questions or need assistance implementing a learning plan for a student, please contact SDS at disabilities@uchicago.edu or via phone at 773-702-6000. 

Please visit FAQ’s for faculty about Student Disability Services for more information.

Posted: September 16, 2020

How can I adapt my course to be taught remotely for students with disabilities?

Student Disability Services (SDS) will work with you to complete the Attendance Flexibility and Deadline Extension Accommodation Agreement Form (PDF). All course materials are required to be accessible. Please review the SDS Faculty Resources page for more information on how to build an accessible course. 

If you have additional questions about accommodation implementation, contact Student Disability Services at disabilities@uchicago.edu or via phone at 773-702-6000.

Updated: November 30, 2020

COVID-19 Related Questions

What if I get sick and cannot continue to teach my course?

If you are the instructor of record for your course and it is not possible to adapt your teaching plan with minimal disruption to the course, contact your Department Chair, Dean’s Office, Collegiate Master, or relevant supervisor.

Set expectations with the students in your course and any TAs/CAs/graders at the start of the course to address contingencies for any health or other concerns that those in your course might face.

We advise all instructors to prepare their Canvas course site with as much material as possible in advance so the readings and other course materials are available online should you need to miss any class sessions. You may also complete a request for support for teaching remotely.

You may also wish to consult the University’s Medical Leave policies for faculty, the Medical Leave policies for other academic appointees, or the sick leave policy for graduate students.

Updated: September 18, 2020

Are there any COVID related or wellness resources for instructors teaching remotely?

Posted: September 16, 2020