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Community Coach
Community Coach

Saving time teaching online

Hello everyone, 

I teach a course on developing/facilitating online classes and have a question I wanted to pose based on one of our class discussion topics.  For those who teach online, how have you found ways to save time on various teaching tasks so you can spend this instead on engaging and connecting with students?

This topic has come up in a couple of blogs before (see Canvas Tips to Save Teachers Time and Time-Saving Tips: Stop Repeating Yourself (CanvasLIVE Session)), but it would be great to see what else folks have come up with!

My hope is to hear if there are Canvas tools, outside apps, or general teaching techniques you have found which could help others. Here are a couple I have used with success:

  • On a topic about student/learner characteristics, I have class participants draw a picture and post this instead of providing a written response as I can grade the images more quickly than papers (and it is more engaging!).
  • When teaching math classes and a student has a question about a concept, I will make a recording of solving a problem with Explain Everything, upload it to YouTube, and then post it in Canvas for the entire class to review.

I look forward to learning what others have found to be beneficial to their teaching . . . thanks in advance!

36 Replies

Thanks for sharing the document.

Community Member

This is my first summer teaching an online class so I'm very thankful for all your experiences and insights!

For me, the course was developed by another faculty member so I don't have to worry about developing anything in the course. Which is great because I can see what they did and learn from the example, but it presents the challenge of I have to figure out the course myself up front.

One thing I've noticed an advantage of is having similar assignments each week. Our online courses follow an 8 week model. I am teaching a Bible class called Introduction to the Gospels where students have a weekly short paper and blog post. The blog is meant as a reflection assignment and the paper is meant to help them synthesize what they learned during the week. The similarity gives the students a chance to "adjust" to how I grade and use the rubric. I can be generous in grading the first week and give lots of comments so they know what I'm looking for. Each week my grading gets a little quicker because I've adjusted to how my students write the students have clarified my expectations in their minds. Most of my time is spent interacting with the student's level of understanding. I can encourage them in their work and challenge them to take next steps in their thinking on the subject. 


That feedback loop is what it's all about,‌! One of the things I like best about teaching online is that the time I spend with each student is focused in just that way, on their individual interests and needs within the context of the class.

If it is helpful, my summer project is collecting feedback resources both in order to improve my own feedback practice and, even more importantly, to help the students learn to give each other better feedback. I'm collecting those feedback resources here in a Canvas course, thinking that might be useful to others too 🙂

Feedback Articles: Exploring Growth Mindset 


Thanks for posting these laurakgibbs . . . they look great!  I wish more students were exposed to this kind of material (growth mindset, etc.), particularly in elementary school.


I keep waiting for the tide to turn, but so far, only a few students report having learned about growth mindset, neuroplasticity, etc. in another class (and usually that is in a psychology class).

I know growth mindset is popular in a lot of K-12 settings, but I guess it has not really taken off in Oklahoma...?

Anyway, I know it is worthwhile; every semester there are students who remark in the end-of-semester evaluations that the growth mindset and other personal development aspects of the class were the most important take-away for them.

Highlighted, you bring up a good point about how effective course design and navigation save instructors time.  If it is difficult to navigate a course or understand assignments/due dates, the instructor will likely be inundated with questions which can be very time consuming to address!

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This is in reply to Eric's request for time-saving tips for online teaching.  I have developed a file called Instructional Announcements. When a new concept is introduced, the student finds the information under the tab Modules and under Assignments. I always send a new announcement that repeats the information under these tabs and adds additional examples for the new concept.  These instructional announcements are numbered so I can keep track of where we are in the course and what announcement has already been posted. I sometimes edit an announcement with examples that a particular class might find helpful. Barbara Deutmeyer

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