Classes at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will meet online starting March 18th. For the most recent information, visit the official page for COVID-19 Updates.

Remote Teaching Resources for Faculty

CELT and Instructional Technology at Winona are offering drop-in and Zoom Office Hours daily, from 9-10 and 2-3. Stop by, email, or call us! (Note that we are pausing this until after Easter.)

Additional virtual office hours are also available through Wiley Academic Services. Click to register and see a full schedule of these offerings, including many SMU faculty.

A variety of circumstances may take some of your students out of class or require teaching from off-site with little notice. In that event, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota has prepared the following resources to help you continue your teaching and being present to students throughout the emergency. Please take the time to review the four tabs below. They pertain mainly to taking existing classes or students online in one form or another. If you have additional ideas or questions we can address on this site, please email

You can always use the support contacts below if you need assistance. We created a special Blackboard discussion forum (you have to be logged in or you will get Access Denied) where you can practice Blackboard discussions, interact with other faculty, get help, and share ideas. You will receive an enrollment message in a day or two.

We have a number of new Zoom resources listed on our Resources Tab below.

This page will change and evolve as we add more information. New additions since its initial launch will be bolded.

This tab covers things you can do right now to prepare for continuing your classes in case of an emergency. The other two tabs offer strategies and tactics for dealing with individual student absences, which will require finding ways of including students who cannot be in class and physical campus closures, which will require finding ways of moving your instruction totally online. 


 The university asks that faculty teaching face-to-face courses — full-time or course-contracted — take the following steps as soon as possible:

  • Be familiar with Saint Mary’s COVID-19 response website and the Remote Teaching Guidelines on this site.
  • Check your Saint Mary’s email account daily. 
  • If instructors are using classrooms for Tegrity during the emergency, students should not be permitted in the room, even if the students have a waiver to be on campus.
  • Expect to meet with your classes during your regular class times or give them asynchronous activities. Rescheduling at different times will cause more chaos than we think we can manage.
  • Expect to navigate these events as a community. We will soon have a Blackboard discussion board for faculty to communicate with each other and trade planning ideas for going online.
  • You may need to make special arrangements with students who have low or no access to broadband internet. If they need options for broadband, you can refer them to the list of service providers IT has compiled here that are offering free or reduced rates.
  • Ensure the university has your emergency contact information loaded into its Connect system.
  • Verify your home computer equipment and internet access meets university minimum standards for online work. Test your broadband internet speed. Download speeds of 3Mbps or higher and upload speeds of 3Mbps or higher will allow the use of most of the suggestions on this site. If you need a laptop, camera, or microphone, contact
  • Expect that you will be supported by the university in the steps that need to be taken to continue instruction online or to absent students. See the list of support contacts on the right hand side of this page. They will be dedicated to helping you solve problems and incorporate the necessary technology to teach during difficult times.
  • Complete the preparedness checklist below.

Preparedness Checklist 

  • If you are relying on a university laptop for its microphone and webcam, take it home each night, in case of sudden closure.
  • Familiarize yourself with IT’s guidelines on working from home.
  • As soon as possible:
    • Review and practice the essential features of Blackboard. Log into your Blackboard course. Make sure your syllabus is updated in Blackboard. Make sure any assignment links are working.
    • Set up a free Zoom account and log into Zoom. Create and participate in a test Zoom call. Practice using your camera and microphone and how to record meetings to the cloud. (Note that the free Zoom account supports one-on-one meetings of any length. Meetings of more than two are limited to 40 minutes. This limitation is lifted on licensed accounts. If you need a licensed account and greater capacity for your course, please fill out this form from IT.)
    • Set up a free Flipgrid account.
    • Create a test recording using the Tegrity/Panopto account provided by the university in your Blackboard course.
    • There are a number of mobile and internet companies who are offering free or reduced rates to students and others affected by COVID-19. Here is a list that is up-to-date as of March 18:

      • FCC agreement stating that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots.
      • Comcast COVID-19 response: offers free WiFi for 2 months to low income families plus all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time
      • Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months
      • AT&T COVID-19 response: offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families
      • Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.
      • Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).
      • T-Mobile COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).

Communicate and Plan

    • Communicate with your students right away: Even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible. Inform them that changes are probably coming and where they can expect to find out about those changes: E-mail, Blackboard, and/or Engage so you can get them more details soon.
    • Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction: What do you think you can realistically accomplish during this time period? Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability? Do you just want to keep them engaged with the course content somehow?
    • Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption — providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
    • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students’ ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
    • Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a closure is caused by a local crisis, it may be already taxing everyone’s mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning. 
    • During the next 1-2 weeks, plan to test specific technology tools in each of your courses that will help support remote class learning experiences. It is okay to tell students you are testing these tools or strategies in preparation for the potential of remote classes.
    • When possible, use low-bandwidth options, and limit lengthy videos when possible. Students may have limited data plans. Emphasize that group Zoom meetings, for instance, have a call-in option.
    • Reach out to the Writing Studio (Winona Campus) or Writing Center (Twin Cities Campus) for help in adapting writing assignments. Any faculty member whose courses involve writing projects will be supported as they transition into online teaching.  The Winona Writing Studio has compiled “Five Things to Remember About Writing” (in an online course).  A variety of supports will be available, including, but not limited to: developing peer review guides for students; providing targeted writing feedback to students; reviewing writing projects; creating resources specific to the course assignment; and discussing specific writing topics with students.
    • Fitzgerald Library (Winona) will provide services and resources online for scholarly support to our faculty, staff, and students. We have created a guide to our Remote Access Resources to aid you in using library materials while away from campus. Liaison librarians will be available for consultations via phone or email for those with questions and concerns. Interlibrary loan may have delays and/or spotty availability due to library closures. 
    • Twin Cities librarians are available to support your research needs. Contact Twin Cities Library for help with finding and integrating electronic resources into your course.

    In the event of a widespread emergency, individual students may be unable to come to class due to factors beyond their control. You may also find some students who are reluctant to come to class. This tab summarizes some strategies for helping these students continue learning in your class.


    • In the event that a student is uncomfortable coming to class in the context of the emergency, the student should communicate with their professors to express their concerns. Within standard policy with respect to absences, professors can make allowances for the student as deemed appropriate, while ensuring the academic integrity of the course. Before any substantial changes are made to curricular delivery, faculty should be consulting their respective dean.
    • In the event that a student is sick, quarantined, or otherwise homebound OR to prepare for students who may find themselves in such a situation in the future, consider the strategies below.
    • Expect that you will be supported by the university in helping students who must be absent from your class. See the list of support contacts on the right hand side of this page. They will be dedicated to helping you use the necessary technology to help your students.

    Strategies to include absent students in class meetings

    • Consider using Tegrity or Panopto (find the links to these in your Blackboard course menu) to record lectures and class discussions for students who may not be able to attend.
    • Consider using a free Zoom account to allow students to attend class “virtually”. (Note that the free Zoom account supports one-on-one meetings of any length. Meetings of more than two are limited to 40 minutes. This limitation is lifted on licensed accounts. If you need a licensed account and greater capacity for your course, please fill out this form from IT.)
    • Post announcements in Blackboard to notify students of Zoom meetings or course revisions.

    Providing options for handouts, assignments, discussions, and exams

    Think about how you could incorporate alternative course materials and adapt assignments to suit online learning in case of an extended emergency.


    In the event of a physical campus closure, Saint Mary’s is committed to helping students continue and complete classes through online learning with as little impact as possible to their educational plans. Instructors should pay close attention to university communications and attempt to connect with students at regularly scheduled class-times or through asynchronous methods online.

    Don’t expect your efforts to move online to be perfect. Typically online courses take weeks to build with an instructional designer.

    Some classes will be more difficult to emulate online than others. For some tougher cases — like music, labs, and performance-based classes, check below for some beginning ideas. For a more advanced set of tutorials, consider checking into the ACUE’s online teaching toolkit, which is quite good.

    In general, for a short-term closure, try using synchronous online methods to hold class meetings online and require students to hand in assignments, receive feedback, and receive grades online. For more extended closures involving whole classes online, asynchronous methods are worth investigating.


    • If one or more Saint Mary’s locations have to close due to an emergency for a prolonged period of time, instructors will be asked to continue instruction in existing classes online (as long as the faculty or students are well enough to instruct).
    • It is understood that face-to-face instructors have varying levels of skill in teaching online, and moving instruction online in the event of an emergency will be a challenge to both students and faculty. No one expects parity between emergency online learning and face-to-face learning, but we expect instructors to do the best they can using the resources provided — as well as using each other as resources.
    • Expect that you will be supported by the university in delivering classes online. See the list of support contacts on the right hand side of this page. They will be dedicated to helping you conduct your courses online and will be available during any physical campus closure.
    • If you have not taught much in Blackboard, familiarize yourself with basic Blackboard functions.


    Online communication

    • Have a consistent communication strategy to avoid confusion. We recommend using email and the Announcement tool within Blackboard. 
    • Inform your students where to locate course information on your Blackboard course site and provide detailed instructions for assignments, online meetings, and technologies.
    • As much as possible, try to create and confirm new content is accessible. For students who may need screen readers, use SnapVerter to convert PDFs to a readable format.
    • Post your syllabus on your course site  and update it with course changes as needed. Here’s how to post content on Blackboard. 
    • Follow best practices to build community and hold online discussions.
      • Add an image to your Google and Blackboard profiles, if you have not already done so. 

    Substitutes for class meetings

    Distributing, collecting, and grading student work

    Think about how you could incorporate alternative course materials and adapt assignments to suit online learning in case of an extended emergency.

    Suggestions for labs and music courses and other experiential learning activities

    Basic Blackboard Functions


    Zoom Resources

    In an emergency, you often need to get your class, and materials, online as soon as possible. Students will be supportive of these efforts. As soon as you can, however, you should also make sure that the materials you put online are accessible to everyone in your course. It is also our legal responsibility, according to the Office of Civil Rights. This page provides some instructions, tips, and ideas for ensuring everyone has access to succeeding in your course.

    Please know how to provide extended time for students with accommodations through Access Services (text, video).




    Read&Write Resources


    Publishers and E-Textbook Platform Vendors

    Click here to access free resources!

    Support Contacts

    For technical support:

    For instructional technology support:

    Twin Cities Campus Instructional Technology

    Bob Andersen (Director)

    Winona Campus Instructional Technology

    Jason Spartz (Director)

    For teaching support:

    Twin Cities Campus- CELT

    Sue Hines (Director)

    Winona Campus- CELT

    Adam Potthast (Director)




    Upcoming Workshops

    Given that all Summer Term 1 courses will be shifted to an online/remote teaching format, we are offering more virtual workshops to support this effort. Please register for those that would support your remote teaching. NOTE: You will receive an auto-email with the Zoom for these virtual workshops about 1 hour after you register. REGISTER online.

    Zoom Training

    Tues. 4/14 noon-12:45
    Tues. 4/21 6:00-6:45

    Description: This 45-minute virtual training session will teach the basic skills needed to create and navigate the tools in Zoom video-conferencing, including setting up a secure meeting, inviting students, audio and video settings, and recording a meeting.

    How to Teach Remotely with Zoom

    Wed. 4/15 noon-12:45
    Wed. 4/22 6:00-6:45

    Description: This 45-minute virtual workshop will show ways to teach remotely in an effective manner using Zoom video-conferencing tools, including advanced features such as breakout rooms, file sharing, shared documents, screen annotation, non-verbal feedback, and ideas for effective teaching with Zoom. This workshop is best for those with a basic understanding of Zoom.

    Panopto Training

    Thurs. 4/16 noon- 1:30
    Thurs. 4/23 6:00-7:30

    Description: The 90-minute 3-part virtual training session will provide you the basic skills needed to use Panopto screen-capturing software.  Part 1: Record mini-lectures with Zoom meetings via Panopto (30 mins), Part 2: Use for student presentations and enable class discussion (30 mins),  Part 3: move your zoom records to Blackboard (30 mins). Attend any or all 30-minute topics.

    Teaching Remotely: Preparation for Academic Continuity

    Friday 4/17 noon-1:00

    Description: This 1-hour virtual session will provide basic guidance and resources to help you prepare to teach remotely through online delivery options.