Gettysburg College Academic Continuity

In the event of a scenario that prevents instructors and students from meeting face to face, Gettysburg instructors are advised to move to some form of short term remote instruction. The purpose of this page is to help instructors quickly learn and apply the fundamentals of remote teaching and learning.

Read on to learn how to:
  1. Enroll in a Moodle course with detailed instructions on a variety of remote learning methods
  2. Use Moodle as your core online learning platform
  3. Communicate with students
  4. Post course materials
  5. Deliver lectures
  6. Interact with students through online course activities
  7. Assess student learning online

First Steps: If remote teaching is new to you and you are adapting your course in response to an emergency situation, focus on the “First Steps” in each section below. You don’t need to build a whole course at once or use every online tool from the start. Instead, design core course activities for your first day, then gradually explore other elements.

Need Help?

If at any point in this process, you need technical support or help with the teaching approaches recommended here contact the IT Help Desk 717-337-7000,

Enroll in the “What Do I Do If I Can’t Have Class” Moodle Course

Educational Technology has developed a short course that covers the technical details of how to use Moodle, Zoom and Screencast-o-matic to deliver course documents, hold discussion, communicate via video and develop pre-recorded lectures. Please refer to this site for technical details on the topics on the rest of this page: this page will link directly to the instructional videos but the course will also include some tips for using these tools effectively.

First Steps: Log into Moodle normally. At the top of your home page there is a Search block: type in “What do I do if I can’t have class”. (WDIDIICHC) The course is set up for guest access: simply click on the name to enter it.

Use Moodle as Your Core Online Learning Platform

Moodle will be the core learning platform for all courses and should be your primary means of communicating with students, delivering content, enabling interaction, creating assessments, and keeping a gradebook. Instructors may link to other tools and sites from within Moodle, but Moodle should be the center of your remote learning strategy.

Communicate with Students

Consistent, clear, reliable communication from instructors is a crucial element of successful online teaching, especially in an emergency scenario. Good communication builds course community, creates a sense of presence, and helps students understand that this is a real course with expectations that are not much different from your face-to-face course. Your students will rely on you to communicate expectations, explain course logistics, and provide updates in a regular, predictable way.

To quickly communicate with students in your class, either use the Quickmail block within your Moodle course or you can use the CNAV alias created for each course which has the format


Using these ensures that all students know where to go for information, assignments, and updates, while also making it easy for instructors and students to access a record of past announcements.

First Steps: If you are in a situation right now where you cannot teach students on-campus, send students an announcement to let them know that the course will continue in an online format, that you are in the process of setting up your course site in Moodle, and that they will receive more information and instructions from you shortly.

First steps: If you are at this time preparing just in case, you should familiarize yourself with Quickmail and the CNAV alias list so you understand how they work and how to use them to communicate with students.

Post Course Materials

In an online environment, instructors have multiple ways of sharing course materials with students but the simplest approach is to upload documents or create links in Moodle.

First Steps: If students are relying on you for access to course documents, readings, etc., prepare now to get those materials into a digital format.

First Steps: Post your syllabus in Moodle under the General Information block at the top of your Moodle main page. For details check the WDIDIICHC Moodle page or view this Youtube video

Deliver Course Lectures

Now that you have prepared your course material, it is time to create and deliver lectures.

Option 1: Post Your Course Lectures as Written Documents

If you are looking for a low-tech way to deliver course lecture material, type out in a document what you would have said during lecture and then post this document in Moodle. Since these notes are meant to be read by students rather than heard during class, compose them so they are clear and easy to understand.

First Steps: Type some draft lecture notes and upload the document to Moodle so you can see how they will appear to students. Continue adding lecture material when you are ready to do so. Give your lectures documents descriptive names so your students can easily find the correct lecture.

Options: If you prefer you can create your documents online in either Google Docs or Office365. You can link to these by using the Share feature under both, setting the documents to be visible to people with the URL and then link to the document via the URL tool in Moodle.

Option 2: Live Interactive Lectures

This approach is best if you want to create teaching sessions where you shift frequently between short lectures and synchronous interactions with students. With this approach, you and your students will need to log in to Zoom during your designated course meeting time, unless all students agree to a change of schedule.

Getting Started with Zoom: Contact another instructor and practice setting up a Zoom session and using Zoom to videoconference with other people

Technical tips:
  • Zoom is a web-based conferencing tool that instructors can use to hold classes online, communicate with students, hold office hours, or host review sessions.
  • Instructors have the option of sharing screens, visibly annotating on shared documents, and creating opportunities for student-student collaboration through breakout rooms.
  • Instructors can choose to record sessions and make them available for the class to watch again later.
  • Zoom can be used with video or with audio-only; with screen sharing or without.
  • Use headphones or earbuds to reduce feedback.
  • As the host of the meeting, instructors are able to mute and unmute participants at any point. When you start a Zoom session with many participants, opt to “Mute Participants” upon entry into the meeting and during ‘pure lecture’ time. Unmute only when you wish to create opportunities for discussion.
  • As the host of the meeting, instructors can turn on the Breakout Rooms feature in their Zoom settings for group discussion. In a Breakout Room, instructors can split the large meeting into separate rooms for small groups of students to work collaboratively.

Option 3: Screen Capture Lectures

This approach works well if you have course material that goes beyond simple text- pictures, spreadsheets, movies and the like. With this approach you will do your lecture normally but record both your speech as well as what appears on your computer screen in a single video using a tool called Screencast-o-Matic

First steps: Install Screencast-o-matic by going to their web site and clicking “Download Install”. Start the install program once downloaded; select site license, the URL is and the password is “gettysburg” (without quotes). Practice making a short video: text instructions are available as well as a video guide
  • Screencast-o-matic (SCOM) will capture everything you want on your computer screen: you can select areas to leave off to avoid clutter.
  • SCOM will capture everything live so you can actively work problems, use a spreadsheet or show video clips..
  • SCOM allows you to mark up the screen while working so you can highlight or circle areas for students to notice.
  • If possible use a headset while recording audio: this will reduce noise from external sources such as other people talking or doors closing..
  • You have the option of using a webcam to include a “talking head” of yourself while delivering the lecture, but this is completely optional.
  • Keep videos short: students greatly prefer videos to be under 10 minutes if possible. Break topics up into multiple videos rather than try to complete an entire lecture in one take.
  • Professional editing is not required: you will make mistakes, pause or “um” through thoughts and the like. You do this normally during lectures and while you might want to make perfect videos it will take far more time for little to no gain. Short videos help here- if you really make a large mistake simply erase the take and start again..
  • After completing the video you can upload it to either Youtube or our Ensemble video server. Use the latter if you are including copyrighted content (Slides from a book publisher, for example) or if there are topics you would rather not appear in a public site. Contact Carrie Szarko in Educational Technology for details on using Ensemble.

Delivering Course Lectures: Selecting the Best Approach

So, which of these approaches should you use? There is no right answer.

Some instructors prefer to have everyone online together at the same time and find value in lecturing “live” while simultaneously interacting with students, posing questions, soliciting responses from students, engaging in Socratic dialogue, etc. If that’s you, use Zoom.

Other instructors prefer having time to write out or record their lectures in advance rather than lecture live, especially if they find it challenging to lecture while also facilitating a live Zoom session. Writing or Pre-recording lectures also has the advantage of creating documents or videos you can repurpose in future classes. If that’s you, go with text documents or screen capture.

You can also combine the three approaches. For example, you could create some lecture documents, supplement them with pre-recorded lectures and class activities to be completed within a certain timeframe, and then hold discussion sessions or office hours synchronously using Zoom. This combination approach has the advantage of letting you carefully construct re-usable lectures material while also creating opportunities for the spontaneity and interactivity of a live online discussion. But bear in mind that there is no clock on the wall in an online class to tell us when the class period is over, so be careful not to assign an excessive amount of coursework.

Interact with students through online course activities

In addition to sharing course material and delivering lectures, instructors also need to provide feedback to students and create opportunities for instructor-student and student-student interaction. The most effective online activities require students to intellectually engage with the course content and to receive formative feedback from their instructors.

Zoom sessions can be used for discussion sessions or office hours in which instructors pose questions, give immediate feedback on answers, respond to student questions, etc.

An alternative is to use an online discussion forum.

First Steps: Create a Moodle Discussion Forum for your first Class Session, Week or Unit.

Teaching Tips:
  • Discussions work best when instructors post open-ended prompts that direct students to engage with the course material, producing work that the instructor can review.
  • Encourage students to respond to one another. One method to do this is to require each student to post one response to the prompt and at least one post in response to another student.
  • If you want students to post their own response before seeing other students’ responses, select “Q & A Forum” under Forum Type. To deepen student-student interaction, give students a deadline to post their response, a second deadline to post a response to three classmates, and a third deadline for the original poster to post a follow-up summary that addresses the three responses.
  • Give students feedback by responding to their posts in the forum during this process, responding to the summary, or by responding to a separate writing assignment that builds on the online discussion. Instructors do not need to respond to every student post, but should be aware of and involved in the discussion.
  • Promote productive discussions by posting discussion forum guidelines and making participation part of the course grade.

Assess Student Learning Online

When students cannot take a quiz or an exam in a traditional physical classroom, instructors will need to create online assessments.

Creating quizzes or exams:

First Steps: Use Moodle quizzes, a robust quiz feature that allows you to create a variety of different types of quizzes (e.g., multiple choice, essay, etc). Create a simple quiz with a multiple choice question and an essay question

Other options:

Assigning essays and papers

Moodle has the ability to accept student papers and allow faculty access to grade them without needing a paper copy.

First Steps: Set up a Moodle Assignment to collect student essays/papers.

Other options:
  • Students can share documents they have created via Google Docs or Office365. These tools also allow live editing where you can mark up documents students have created and they will see your feedback in real time.

Going Live, Additional Considerations

Last of the First Steps:

  • Announcements are an important way to humanize an online course. Give students regular course-wide feedback about how the class is doing and encourage them to keep up with the work.
  • Because it is easy for students to lose track of the things they are expected to do, give your Announcement a clear subject heading (e.g., “Coursework for Thursday, 4/20/2020”) and include a quick checklist for students to follow.
Sample Moodle Announcement:

Subject: Check-in... and Coursework for Thursday, 4/20/2020

In general, students did well on the Chapter 3 quiz and everyone had thoughtful contributions to the ongoing discussion. Please check your grades and my feedback. Bring any questions on the reading or the quiz to our Zoom Office Hours on Wednesday at 4pm ET.

Our next class session is now available in Moodle. Be sure to complete all of the following before midnight ET, Thursday, 4/21/2020:
  • Log in for Zoom Office Hours on Wednesday at 4pm ET.
  • Read Simon, Chapter 4
  • Watch Lecture 3
  • Post a response to the “Week 3 Forum” prompt
  • Take Quiz 4
Keep up the good work. See you Wednesday, Professor _________

Additional Thoughts

  • Consider creating a “Course Logistics” Discussion Forum in which students can pose questions about how the course functions, deadlines for coursework, etc.
  • Remind students that they can use Zoom to hold study sessions, collaborate on homework or projects, etc.

Musselman Library will continue to provide access to library materials and research assistance:

Using Library Resources:

  • From off campus, students, faculty, and staff members can access library materials (e.g., articles from e-journals, ebooks, streaming film) through MUSCAT Plus and library databases. When accessing library resources from off campus, users will be prompted to sign in using their campus credentials for authentication
  • For questions about accessing the Library’s print materials from off campus, please email

Getting Research Help


Acknowledgments: Shamelessly adapted from the excellent Lehigh University site at