We recommend that you begin designing your course with a backward design approach. The backward design approach begins with writing course-level and module learning outcomes. In other words, what do you want students to know or to be able to do as a result of the learning experience? You then identify materials, create activities, and devise assessments that align with your outcomes. In the process of backward design for online teaching, you will need to address the following questions:

  • Learning Objectives. What will students be able to accomplish at the end of each module and the course?
  • Teaching Resources and Materials. What teaching resources and materials will you need to select, develop, or adapt to help students fulfill the learning objectives?
  • Teaching and Learning Activities. What activities will you create to productively engage students with the course and with each other?
  • Assessment Methods. What assessment methods will allow students to demonstrate their accomplishment of the learning objectives?
  • E-Learning Tools. What e-Learning tools and techniques can you use (or ask the students to use) to facilitate teaching and learning?
  • Access: How can I make sure all students in my class have access to learning?

The resources below will help you address each question:

How Do I Set Learning Objectives?

While course-level learning objectives specify what students should be able to do upon completion of the course, module-level learning objectives break down the course-level objectives into smaller, incremental parts. They become a useful outline for your online course.

To learn more about learning goals and objectives, visit:

How Do I Provide Digital Learning Materials?

There are a wide variety of materials that you can use to support your teaching online:

Library Resources

The Georgetown library provides abundant digital resources to support online teaching and learning. This webinar recording provides detailed instructions on how to Access Library E-Resources.

Recording Your Own Video Lecture

Recording your own lecture is a good way to complement synchronous teaching, allowing students to learn from the lecture at a time of their choosing. You can pre-record lectures on your computer with Zoom or Panoptoa screencasting tool—and post the file to your Canvas site. Our lecture capture tipsheet has more details on how to do this.

With Zoom, you’re able to save meetings directly to the cloud and share them on Canvas. If you decide to use Panopto, take a look at the following resources:

The two webinar recordings below provide guidance on how to create high-quality lecture videos.

Organizing Materials in Canvas

It’s hard to overstate how much it improves your students’ experience to organize your materials clearly. Watch the webinar recording on Organizing Materials in Canvas to improve your material organization.

How Do I Create Learning Activities In Canvas?

Class activities and assignments need to be aligned with learning objectives. Learn more about how to create online assignments and activities here.

Asynchronous Engagement

One of the most crucial decisions of virtual teaching is deciding what you will do in synchronous sessions versus asynchronous time. The figure below depicts a series of activities over the course of a week that interact with each other and create a trajectory towards the learning goals.

You can learn more in our Asynchronous Engagement Guidebook.

Use Online Tools to Create Diverse Activities

Online Discussion
Writing Assignments
Group Work

How Do I Create Assessments?

Having set learning goals, you’ll need to know whether students are reaching them—and your students will need to know, too. Whether remote or in-person, students benefit from regular feedback that is fair and clear. Teaching online may, however, require a different way of receiving and responding to student work. Check out our Assessment page for ideas.

What Tools Are Available to Me and How Can I Use Them?

Check out the tools page to learn about all the tools available at Georgetown University to support your teaching online.

How can I make sure all students in my class have access to learning?

See the Accessibility page as well as the Academic Resources Center’s Fall 2020 page for key issues and ideas.