The third thing we are asking you to do in your virtual teaching environment is to assess your students’ learning.

Even when you’re teaching remotely, you still need to know whether students are learning and meeting the course goals. The same basic principles apply—students benefit from regular feedback that is fair and clear. Teaching online may, however, require a different way to receive and respond to student work.

Note that you’ll need a reliable internet connection for a remote teaching format; if you run into problems, see this UIS page on internet connectivity issues.

Read below for some principles and best practices for assessing your students in the remote virtual learning environment. You can also review our documentation for rethinking assessments.

Delivering Quizzes, Exams, and Finals

We highly recommend using Canvas for submitting all graded assignments to keep track of students’ grades in one space. The following are tips on how to construct an assessment in Canvas based on the type of assessment you have in mind.

  • For written exams:
    • You can use Assignments for long-form, text-based exams, and you may set a time limit. You can use the “Essay Question” question type in Quizzes for short-form text answers without the bells and whistles (e.g. no access to a rubric or peer review).
    • When you create an Assignment in Canvas, you can upload a rubric for both students’ viewing and your grading convenience.
    • You can provide students with feedback in the SpeedGrader option, which allows you to provide margin comments directly in students’ submissions, or download their files to your computer and annotate them in Word.
  • For objective question-type exams:
    • You should use Quizzes for objective question-type exams.
    • You can assign points on a question-by-question basis.
    • You are able to choose from a variety of common question formats.
    • You can set a time limit for the quiz. PLEASE NOTE: We recommend using this option with caution as students’ internet connectivity issues can lead to prematurely submitted responses and other errors.
    • You can identify if and when students can see the correct answers.
    • You can provide students feedback via email or within Canvas.
  • For presentation-style finals:
    • You can use Zoom within Canvas for presentation-style finals.
    • If you normally do group presentations for a final exam, you can select the “This is a Group Assignment” option, allowing students to work in assigned groups.
    • You can allow students to attach a file as their submission.
    • You can provide students feedback via email or within Canvas.
    • See our tipsheet on oral presentations for more ideas.

Assessing Student Work

Quizzes and Exams

Canvas offers tools that will allow you to deliver both ungraded and graded quizzes and exams online. CNDLS can also help you get access to Proctorio (online proctoring software for exams) as necessary. We have also put together a guide of online assessment ideas (alternatives to exams and more) that you can use if you’d like to rethink the style of your assessments during this time of disruption.

For more information:

Written Assignments

Any written assignments you have can be created as an “Assignment” in Canvas (and you can find out more about all of the functions below in our Canvas tutorials).

  • You should use Assignments for assignments requiring a longform text response.
  • After you enter the points available to earn and what kind of submissions you’ll accept (documents, links, media files, etc), you may choose Turnitin review in the “Plagiarism review” section.
  • You might also consider having students grade each others’ assignments using the peer review option.
  • You can attach rubrics to assignments in Canvas, giving students guidance as they prepare their assignments, and providing you with a grading benchmark when the time comes to grade.

For more information:

Multimedia Assignments

Students can submit multimedia assignments through the file upload feature in a Canvas Assignment. VoiceThread is another alternative if you have need of making targeted commentary on a multimedia object.

  • You may adjust the type of file accepted in the Assignments settings in Canvas for assignments requiring a file upload, such as an MP4 video file

Using Analytics to Inform your Approach

If you are using Canvas for your course, Canvas Analytics allows you to view both course-wide and individual student-level analytics data to make more informed decisions about how to move student learning forward, and whether or not to make a pivot. We’ve compiled a tip sheet on some of the highlights here.

CNDLS Office Hours

CNDLS provides virtual office hours for support with tools and tips for teaching online.

Hours of operation: Monday – Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. After hours, reach us at and someone will reach out as soon as possible.  

For information on daily office hours offered by CETS, UIS and other partners, please visit the contact page.

Tip of the Week

Looking for ideas to get your semester started? Consider inviting new students to meet with you individually or in small groups to discuss your and their expectations for the course, or publish your Canvas course early to allow students to preview the course and meet each other. Explore ideas like these, together with your colleagues, at Digital Learning Days this week! Learn more about Digital Learning Days here.

CNDLS Calendar

Visit the CNDLS calendar to learn about upcoming programs and workshops.!