First Steps

Using Canvas

  • Canvas for Mobile.  You and your students should download the Canvas app for your smart mobile devices. Follow the login parameters; our campus’s single sign-on protocols will pop up and upon login you will be able to interface with the Canvas network from your device.  IMPORTANT: How your course reacts on a mobile device is important, as it is the most often used tool to engage with the learning management system.  It is difficult to create content on a mobile device.  Many of our students will be accessing their courses via mobile devices because of technological hardships or unreliable internet when not on a data plan. 
  • Posting Multimedia. Most every web-based video can be embedded within a Canvas page; that is, the video can seamlessly exist in the Canvas site at full resolution.  It is best to embed rather than post a link to another site, as this allows students to remain in the Canvas shell and keep the continuity of the instruction.  This involves finding the embed code for the video (which can be found in the share area of the video player) and pasting it into Canvas using the Insert Media button.
  • Discussion Boards. Adding a discussion board to your Canvas course in order to further conversation on a content topic or connection from the class to the real world starts with the Discussion button on the left-hand bar of the Canvas site. After you add the discussion section, there are a number of choices on how to tailor settings for the needs of your class. Good discussion boards require regular instructor presence and using responses to further conversational reach.
  • Gradebook. While Canvas has a Gradebook function that allows faculty seamless interchange between graded assignments and a roster of information (as well as student access to view their progress), the Gradebook function is only viable if *all* grades are posted in the tool and their weight relates to the expectations within the syllabus.  Unless you want to manually edit all previous work into Canvas, the Gradebook should be kept out of your preparations.

Using Zoom

  • Zoom for Mobile.  You and your students should download the Zoom app for your smart mobile devices.  Follow the login parameters; our campus’s single sign-on protocols will pop up and upon login faculty will see their profile, including a unique URL that is for their particular meetings and sessions.  When students have the application downloaded, they will be able to click links to your meetings and join from their device.
  • Synchronous Sessions. There are many particular tools available within Zoom to help bolster classroom learning.  Sessions can be recorded and a rough transcript can be mined from the recording within several hours. Students can be grouped into huddle sessions to have side conversations and further information, and users can share their screens to go over particular information from the collective.  And there is white board technology for writing notes and other information in a collaborative space.

Using Labster

  • Run Lab Simulations Within Canvas. The Labster simulations that you will import into your course will come over as Canvas assignments. These assignments include pre-lab foundational material, learning objectives, an outline of what students will do, and a credentialed link that brings students directly into the Labster site. Find more information in the district's Instructional Continuity Quick Guide via Canvas.
  • Everyone Learning Together.  Labster is a new software for the CCC, and unlike the usual process of support development prior to launch, this software is being deployed at the same time as district technology support (instructional and informational) are learning about usage, pedagogy and other FAQs. Let's use this time to create a body of knowledge together!

Using Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Students and Faculty Have Access. Adobe is providing at-home access to Creative Cloud for students and faculty to access from home.  Start at and follow the prompts to enter in your SMCCD login credentials. Download the apps that you would like to use from there.
  • Tutorials for Support. Adobe offers free “Daily Creative Challenges” in Photoshop, XD, and Illustrator. These are guided projects where participants receive creative prompts and connect with pros, mentors, and other students for feedback and support.  For inspiration and over-the-shoulder learning, watch pros share their creative process on Adobe Live daily. For faculty seeking to engage students during campus closures, Adobe has curated distance learning resources to help them discover inspiring projects, best practices, and new ideas so they can continue to drive valuable learning in virtual environments.


  • Early, Often and Sustained. Instructor presence is the key indicator of success in an online course, and that importance is greater in an emergency education situation. If you currently use technology to communicate with students (Canvas, email, other), double those efforts using that medium. If not, set a goal of *at least* four class-wide communications for a week.
  • Office Hours. Using Zoom for virtual office hours is a great opportunity to keep a continuity in your instructor presence and allow not only for curricular questions but also to have dialogue about the emergency and how people are affected and working through the obstacles.
  • Combining Course and Life. A great pedagogical tool is to create a space for students to communicate about coursework as well as life.  This can happen as part of your Zoom office hours, or on a Canvas discussion board, or through a shared project in Google Docs.


  • Good Universal Practice. It is important for us to remember accessibility while working in this emergency education environment.  Accessibility practices are sound educational practices based in Universal Design, and your work will benefit from following these basic provisions.
  • Captions and Transcripts. If you are using video, it will need to have available captions. If you are using audio, you will need to provide a transcript. Because of the time required to transcribe and caption videos, we recommend not to record lectures unless you have prior experience with recording and captioning/transcribing.
  • Text-to-Speech. Learning documents created in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are easy for screen readers to turn from text to speech.  For this reason we encourage all of your documentation to be shared as .docx or .pptx and not .pdf.
  • Campus Support. Disability Support Services will offer support remotely; however, due to expected high demand the turnaround for material support will not be fast, and may be limited to supporting students with particular accommodation needs such as low-vision.


  • Establishing the proper assignments and assessments depends on the course.  In writing-intensive courses, practices can continue in a similar fashion as a F2F class (there are opportunities for using software for peer review and other elements, but in an emergency education situation it is best to use your time to establish community rather than learn lots of new software). In other disciplines, consider what affordances the Internet provides for your work (prompt responses, creating study resources, seeking primary sources). A key consideration is what benefits does the Internet hold and how can you utilize those.

Tests and Examinations

  • Canvas has an Assignment tool that aids in developing a wide variety of assessment types: multiple-choice, short-answer, etc. The key to successful use of these tools is 1. Create a large question bank for your students, and 2. Engage the timing protocol on the test as you see fit.
  • SMCCD does not have an online proctoring solution; however, there is not a direct relationship between proctored examinations and course articulation. Assessments that cannot be gamed or cheated are ideal, but in the event your examination involves solving particular equations or defining particular terms, timing the examination has been shown as an effective deterrent to cheating, with studies showing no significant score difference between proctored exams and timed exams.

Group Work

  • Even in an emergency education situation, students can continue to collaborate and create knowledge together.  Assigning group work for any sorts of topics (chapter review, concept mapping, vocabulary building, case studies, etc) builds on the community elements of education while providing the pedagogical affordance of peers learning from one another.  In order to have remote group work be successful, identify the roles needed in each group, how a person can be successful in that role and within the group, the pathway to project completion, and an idea of how long the project would take in ideal conditions.