Frequently Asked Questions

Georgetown will continue to update faculty and academic staff about developments in our approach to teaching and learning during the COVID-19 crisis, but we already know that spring and summer 2020 courses are being taught remotely. This FAQ page is designed to help you think through some of the challenges that may come up along the way. Adapting the ways we teach and learn to a virtual environment presents challenges, and our community will need to continue responding with patience, empathy, and mutual support.

Data and Privacy

How is Georgetown protecting our students and faculty with the software used to facilitate the remote learning environment? 

Georgetown has worked with our content providers to ensure that your data and privacy are protected. You can find more information about these protections, including links to the individual application privacy and acceptable use policies here. In short,

  • Content on Canvas is owned by the user (usually the instructor) and the user has the sole right, power and authority to their content. Canvas collects and shares only the content and information it needs to provide its service.
  • Zoom’s Privacy Statement explicitly states that it does not sell your data, monitor your meetings or claim ownership of your content. Meetings are not stored after they are done unless expressly requested by the meeting host. Zoom collects only the information it needs to provide its service.
  • Proctorio promises that only your course instructor will be able to access any recorded exam data; that they use uses double-encryption, zero-knowledge technology to scramble personal data during transfer to ensure your exam data is kept safe and private; and that they cannot and will not sell any of your private data. 

Content Delivery

What is the best way to communicate to students plans for instructional continuity?

The easiest way to communicate with all of your students is by emailing them using the Announcement feature in Canvas.

How do I Handle Large Lecture Classes?
How do I hold office hours?

There are many options for holding office hours online. Zoom is a terrific option and can even be used to create group break out rooms so you can meet with multiple groups of students in the same session. If you prefer to meet students individually, using Zoom within Canvas allows you to click an “enable waiting list” button. See our tipsheet on waiting rooms in Zoom for more information.

What if students don’t have Internet access or limited technology and/or software access?

UIS has prepared a page for helping with connectivity issues. Some issues with internet access may be hard to resolve, however; because some students may have limited access off campus, consider including materials that can be downloaded and read offline. If a laptop is not available, Zoom works on mobile phones. Finally, our Accessibility page talks about working with students who are now in countries that restrict internet access, and our tipsheet on Best Practices for Teaching and Learning Internationally has ideas to help both students and teachers.

How Do I Accommodate Students Who Are doing their remote Learning from other countries?

Our tipsheet on Best Practices for Teaching and Learning Internationally has ideas to help both students and teachers.

How do I share materials with my students?

Materials already in PDF format can be shared on Canvas, or you could create a class folder on Box or Drive for the purpose of sharing materials. You can post your lecture notes, handouts, and/or slides on Canvas. You may add questions for reflection to guide students through the material. You may also use Panopto to create a narrated version of your slides that can then be posted on Canvas. There are various free apps available to convert photos and documents to a PDF format. Just be sure to make your materials accessible before sharing them.

Should I use alternative applications such as WeChat, GroupMe, etc., to help students with ease of communication, in other words, applications that they are used to already?

It is advisable to maintain consistency for students through the use of Georgetown course platforms and software such as CanvasZoom, and email. That said, while the companies we work with have assured us that they have increased their capacity to manage the demand, we know problems may arise, so advance back-up plans are also advisable.

How can I teach my class in real time (“synchronously”)?

We recommend Zoom for real-time (synchronous) sessions. Zoom allows for video, chat interactions, and breakout rooms to divide students into smaller groups for discussion. (You can even create pre-assigned breakout rooms in advance.) You may want to use this resource: Digital Learning Webinar: Teaching with Zoom. Up to 300 participants can use Zoom at a time; for larger classes up to 500, contact for additional capacity.

How do I record a class?

Zoom allows you to record your Zoom session. To do so, you will need to be the host of your meeting. Simply click the “record” button on the Zoom toolbar. Once you end the session, your recording will be converted and available to you immediately as an MP4 file.


How can I move a seminar or discussion-based class online?

Inquiry and reflection are key elements of a Georgetown education and will be more important than ever in the event of a disruption. Students may appreciate the chance to talk about their experience with the class community, so consider leaving time to check in on their wellbeing. Zoom allows for real-time discussions with the entire class or smaller groups of students. You can also post prompts for reflective writing on the Canvas discussion board and reply to students or have them reply to each other.

Outside of Zoom, how can I do pre-recording for classes that tend to be chalk heavy (ie, math, physics, etc.)?

Zoom includes a whiteboard feature as well as a recording feature. Open a session in Zoom, share your screen, and then select the “Whiteboard” option as the screen you want to share. Begin recording using the record button (it may be hidden in the “more” ellipses). When you are done, end the session, and an MP4 video file for your session will be generated. You can also do this using an iPad or other tablet for easier sketching. Also, you may record yourself with your mobile phone doing math problems or writing equations on paper and upload. See our Lecture Capture tipsheet for more information.

How can I adapt classes that Really Depend on Hands-on, In-person work, like labs and studio art classes?

We’ve created several tipsheets that we hope will help you think through these challenges:

How can I adapt classes that are interactive—in particular, language classes?

One option is using VoiceThread for interactivity and short presentations—but see our Teaching Languages at a Distance tipsheet for more ideas.

How can students do group work?

Consider using Google docs or Zoom breakout rooms. To put students in breakout rooms, you will need to be the host of the Zoom session. Select “Breakout Rooms” in the Zoom screen toolbar at the bottom of the screen. You may then identify how many rooms you want to divide your participants into, and if you would like to do so manually or automatically. Use “Options” once you have set up the rooms to identify how long you’d like the rooms to be open. You can also opt into a “breakout room is ending soon” timer warning for participants. Finally, you can, if you want, preassign people to breakout rooms. See our tipsheet on Small Group Work Online for more ideas.

How can students do class presentations?

Students can do group-based or individual presentations during a regular Zoom session. Advise students to identify one person to share the presentation visuals or powerpoint. That person will share their screen when the time comes. Only students presenting at the moment should be unmuted. Students presenting can share links (Box, Drive, etc.) to any supporting materials in the session chat. Students may take questions via audio afterward, or you could ask the audience of students to write their questions down in the session chat or on a Google Doc created for that purpose. Presentations can also be recorded in advance and viewed asynchronously. See our tipsheet on Virtual Student Presentations for more.

How do I conduct office hours remotely?

Hold virtual office hours via Zoom in Canvas. You can either meet students as they arrive or create a waiting list to meet with them one at a time. You could consider using the free tool Calendly to help students schedule office hour slots with you.


Note: in addition to the answers below, we have a whole page on Remote Assessment on this site.

How Do I Adapt My Assignments for Remote Teaching?

We’ve created a Handling Assignments Remotely tipsheet to give you some ideas. Some of your assignments can work unchanged in this virtual environment; in other cases, it may be helpful to consider alternatives to the assignments/assessments you normally rely on.

How can I help maintain standards of academic integrity?

Through Canvas, Georgetown provides access to Designing unique assessments that require students to draw on class discussion or synthesize information in unique ways can help. If you want to use proctoring software to administer a final exam, we support Proctorio. Please contact CNDLS at

How do I switch from a paper quiz/exam to an electronic quiz/exam?

Canvas offers quiz options within the course. You may also ask students to upload documents in Canvas or email them to you. You may also want to consider changing assessments slightly. For example, there may be alternatives to standard tests that will serve your learning goals just as well. Or in a science course you could bring an increased emphasis on reading the literature as opposed to lab assessments.

How can I adapt assignments that require lab work, community-based field work, or other special circumstances?

Some course assignments require more adjustments than others. Consider substituting research-based assignments (like literature reviews or data analysis) or group projects for other kinds of hands-on work. There may also be an opportunity to have students work in groups to examine how your particular field might help society respond (culturally, economically, psychologically, organizationally, etc) to the coronavirus or future pandemics. Also see our tipsheets on moving online when teaching labs, experiential learning, studio art and performance courses, or other tricky situations.

How can I set up Canvas if I’m not already using it?

All courses are automatically assigned a Canvas site, accessible to all students registered for the course. Training is available to support your work.

Where can I go for help?

CNDLS: or 202-687-0625

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

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

Tip of the Week

Looking to create opportunities for students to learn together outside class time? Consider creating a Canvas discussion board for students to self-organize into study groups, and check out these ideas for building community in virtual learning environments.

CNDLS Calendar

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