The Lumen Team is expert in many things, including effective teaching and learning using open educational resources. Yet as institutions, faculty and students face tremendous uncertainty around the impact of COVID-19, it’s worthwhile to seek advice from experts from across the educational community to help with the challenges and transitions ahead.

In response to many of the general questions we’re getting about best practices for setting up courses and teaching online, we’ve prepared a curated list to share information and recommendations from some of our favorite sources.

Table of Contents:

  1. Partnering with Lumen
  2. Academic Continuity: Curated Resources
  3. Helpful Reading: COVID-19 Impact and Support for Faculty and Students
  4. Learning Management System (LMS) Support
  5. Accessibility
  6. Course Communication Tools & Tips
  7. Assignments
  8. Grading Rubrics
  9. Netiquette
  10. Digital Literacy
  11. Take Care of Yourself
  12. We’d Love to Hear Your Feedback

Partnering with Lumen

Lumen courseware was originally developed to remove barriers and improve success for at-risk students in digital environments. We’re eager to make our learning tools and team helpful during this period of disruption. For more information about the steps we’re taking to help institutions and faculty move rapidly to online learning, please take a look at these resources:

Academic Continuity: Curated Resources

The POD Network supports professional and organizational development for educators and educational institutions. This spreadsheet captures resources recommended by the POD Network community about academic continuity and teaching through periods of disruption.

CCCOER is a consortium of community and technical colleges that use open educational resources to expand educational access and student success. This document collects contributed open resources that may be helpful in addressing a wide spectrum of impacts of COVID-19 on students, faculty, and institutions.

Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions due to School Closings

Helpful Reading: Online Learning, COVID-19 Impact, and Support for Faculty and Students

Learning Management System (LMS) Support

Learning management systems are a central delivery point for online learning, where students go to get course information, communicate with instructors, and check their grades. Because LMS-related policies and practices can vary by institution, in most cases, your local LMS Administrator will be the best resource to help you use your learning management system (LMS) effectively. Be sure to check with your local team first, but here are some additional resources that may be helpful.



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Accessibility is an important consideration in online learning to ensure students of varying abilities can learn effectively in your classes. Your institution should have great resources to address your campus standards, services, and context.

If you have questions about the accessibility of Lumen course materials, you may read our Accessibility Policy to learn about our approach to inclusive design and view the latest VPATs for our courseware platforms, Waymaker and OHM.

Course Communication Tools & Tips

Students rarely complain that they got too many instructions from teachers. Some online teachers post daily announcements and they also email their students. The best approach is to tell students clearly when you are available, how much, and how they can expect to hear from you.

If you get a lot of questions from students, don’t be discouraged! Two emails that say the same thing from different students can save you fifty questions and a ton of time. Think of the students’ questions as a guide to what you need to (re)explain to everyone.

Pro-Tip: Use an “Ask The Teacher” discussion forum as a central place to pose questions where everyone can see the responses. You can also encourage students to help each other by responding to classmates’ questions.

Announcement Templates

As you move from face-to-face classes to teaching online, one of the major adjustments is that everything you used to say in class now must be communicated to students in a different way. Using course announcements, emails, and detailed instructions is the best way to communicate important course information to students.

In a disruptive situation like the current one, encourage students to help one another. Students can help create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or they can answer questions using a discussion board. Here are other helpful tools:

Discussion Boards

If you have never used a discussion board before, it’s a good idea to start with something informal and formative. If discussion boards seem overwhelming to you, start with an easy question that can be answered beyond yes or no. Your local eLearning department may have resources for you about how to post, grade, and moderate a discussion. Articles we’ve found helpful include:

In most of Lumen’s courses, we have discussions that you can use for your class. The standard template we follow may be adapted for most disciplines. Here is an example from our Introduction to Business course where we have provided General Discussion Instructions that explain clearly to students what to post, how many times, how many words, and the assignment itself.


Most likely you already have assignments that you were going to deliver face-to-face, and you should still be able to use and/or adapt them to fit online instruction. If you’re starting from scratch with teaching online, your institution’s eLearning department probably has information to help you. If it overwhelms you to use the LMS gradebook, some teachers start by using the assignments feature like a drop-box.

If you’re looking for assignments that can be used in online learning or other modalities, consider borrowing assignments from Lumen Learning courses. Here’s how to find them for non-mathematical subjects:

  • Go to Lumen’s course catalog and click on a course of interest.
  • On the course detail page, click on the “View course content and outcomes” button
  • Look for Faculty Resources, where assignments and other supplemental materials are located.

For math courses, online homework and other assignments are available to review (and borrow) in Lumen OHM. You can request an instructor account and browse OHM template courses to see what’s available, copy, and customize to fit your needs.

All Lumen assignments are openly-licensed, so you may use them as-is or adapt them to fit your course context and students’ needs. When you use a Lumen course integrated into your LMS, the assignments come into your course shell as native LMS assignments, and you can review and customize them in the LMS. Here are examples from some of our most popular courses:

Grading Rubrics

Rubrics are important because they convey clearly how you will assess student work as you’re grading their assignments. More about rubrics:

Most learning management systems include a rubric feature that can be helpful for communicating to students what you’re looking for in an assignment and also for grading. Look for LMS-specific training and instructions when you’re ready to try this feature.

However, if you’re anxious about setting up and using grading rubrics in your LMS, you may want to consider sticking with your standard paper rubric, taking a photo and sending it to your students. Some teachers write student feedback by hand on rubrics, and then use their cell phones to take a photo of the rubric. This is not ideal, but it’s an easy low-tech option. Uploading your photos, and then emailing or posting them to the LMS assignment is an option.

You may also type your comments, and then customize them for each student. This approach can be time-consuming, but once you have a few written, this work can move quicker than hand-writing everything.


Students are often quite skilled at social media, but they may need practice and guidance with being professional online. You most likely have some language in your syllabus about how to be on time, how to format assignments, etc. so you’ll want to have a short statement to guide students about appropriate behavior in the online learning environment.

Most eLearning departments have sample language they can share. Here are examples and recommendations you may find helpful:


Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is a universal consideration in education today, and it’s important to teach students how to evaluate information effectively, regardless of your course modality. With the immediate concerns about COVID-19, it is a scary time when misinformation can actually harm somebody’s health.

Use these excellent resources to help improve your students’ digital literacy.

Take Care of Yourself

Online classes provide a lot of flexibility, but this also means you need to set appropriate boundaries to care for yourself and stay healthy and happy. You’ll learn very quickly which students are night owls and who are the early birds. You don’t have to answer them immediately, and you should try to keep a schedule that works for you.

Here are helpful tips for faculty self-care:

We’d Love to Hear Your Feedback

Do you have feedback about these resources? Do you have favorite materials you’d like to share with others? Would you like to help us with the continuous improvement of our content?

If so, please email us at