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Northwestern University

Remote Teaching and Learning

Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences and Northwestern University continue to develop and collect resources and opportunities for remote learning and instruction, from the basics to best practices. 

For Students: NU Resources for Remote Learning

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For Instructors: NU Resources for Remote Teaching and Learning

For Instructors: Weinberg College and NU Policies and Guidelines

For Instructors: Other Resources

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Contact Information  

Contact Name
Contact Email
Weinberg College Community of Practice; Pedagogy, best practices for remote instruction Mary Finn


Supplemental Teaching Tools and Software, Remote administration, communication, collaboration tools, general technology concerns Weinberg IT Solutions
Specialized Staff and Faculty Training, Advice and Consultation on Remote Teaching Equipment, Supplemental Teaching Tools and Software Media and Design Studio (MaDS) 
Support for core remote teaching tools (Canvas, Zoom, Panopto, Respondus); One-on-one consultations Northwestern IT Teaching & Learning Technologies 
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Faculty FAQs

If I have technical problems during a live Zoom class, what should I do?

Have a fallback plan for your students and add it to your Syllabus(For example, "If our Zoom meeting is interrupted or is not operating for any reason, I will make an announcement via Canvas to provide alternate instructions.”). For your first online class, we recommend including a staff support person on the class for immediate technical assistance. This staff member or TA can assist students in the class via the “Chat” functionality and also assist you with any video or audio issues. We also recommend having an online chat resource, such as Microsoft (MS) Teams, launched and ready to go. You can alert a trusted staff member or TA of your class meeting time and be sure someone is ready to assist you via that chat resource in real-time. If you have no staff support in your online class and need immediate assistance, call 1-HELP(847-491-4357) and be sure to note the urgency.

How do I set someone up to be a Canvas Designer for my class?

View Canvas Course Roles and Permissions to make sure the “Designer” role is the best option for your support staff member or colleague. Adding a course designer is an easy way to add a fellow teaching colleague or staff member to your course in a way that allows them to help manage the content of the course. Course designers can also communicate with course participants, add events to the course calendar, and help moderate discussions. To add a designer to your course in Canvas, navigate to the course via the Courses option in the left menu. Select “People” from within the particular course’s menu. Select the “+ People” button and then use the dropdown to identify the proper role for your new collaborator. Be sure to enter NetIDs only to identify individuals in the system. For additional help, contact

Where can I find resources for best practices in remote teaching for my discipline or type of class?

Consult the following two resources:

Also, consider joining a community of practice, or sign up for a Searle Center online workshop.

Where can I find resources to support students who do not have many technical resources (e.g., highspeed internet) at home?

You can direct students to view software and hardware requirements as well as strategies for remote learning. The Undergraduate Financial Aid Office has also set up a form for students to request assistance.

What is Northwestern University policy on recording my online class in Zoom?

View the Office of the Provost’s policy on recording classes. In sum, faculty should alert students that they are recording the session—both verbally and in the course syllabus posted in Canvas.

If you plan to record, the Office of the Provost asks that you include the following statement on your syllabus and also verbally let students know that you are choosing to record class sessions:

This class or portions of this class will be recorded by the instructor for educational purposes. These recordings will be shared only with students enrolled in the course and will be deleted at the end of the Spring Quarter. Your instructor will communicate how you can access the recordings.

Unauthorized student recording of class sessions is prohibited, and faculty should not permit individual students to record class sessions for any reason. Please have students direct requests related to accommodations to AccessibleNU.

What is the best way to use Zoom for “in-person” Office Hours?

We recommend using the personal meeting IDs (PMIs) and waiting room features of Zoom for this:

For example, share your office hours with students and also include your personal meeting ID. Explain that, when the student joins the Zoom meeting via your meeting id, they will be automatically placed in a “waiting room.” You can manually put students in and out of your Zoom meeting.

How should I take class attendance in a Zoom meeting?

Perhaps the simplest, real-time solution is to use the “Chat” feature in Zoom.

Ask students to make a brief comment in the chat, such as “Here.” You can then save the chat to review later by selecting the three dots (…) at the bottom of the chat window. From the menu that appears, choose “Save chat.” You can also modify your Zoom settings to autosave chats.


Is there a time limit on a Zoom meeting?

No, there should be NO time limit if you are logged into your Northwestern University account in the Zoom system. If you see a message that you have “Zoom basic” or are limited to 40 minutes for three or more users, then you may have logged into the free version of Zoom with your personal email. Be sure to log into Zoom via You may need to first log out of the free version of Zoom in order to log into the Northwestern “Zoom Pro” version.

How do I set up a discussion board for my class in Canvas?

View the Northwestern Canvas page on Creating and Managing the Discussion Board.

My class is completely asynchronous; may I delete the day/time information from CAESAR?

If your spring quarter class is meeting asynchronously, either because you have redesigned your curriculum as such or because you will record all classes and students will be able to watch them later, and if you are also not giving a synchronous final exam, we encourage you to request that your class meeting time be deleted from CAESAR.  Deleting your meeting time will remove any time conflict in CAESAR between your class and others your students may want to take, making registration more efficient for you and the student. The person in your department who typically updates class schedules can delete this meeting information for you in CLSS, which will update the course information in CAESAR.

A student who is not registered for my class in CAESAR wants to take my class. What do I do?

Students need to register in CAESAR. Once registered they will gain access to your Canvas site. CAESAR refreshes Canvas every three hours.

A student enrolled in Canvas and not in CAESAR is an active participant in the class but did not take my advice and get registered in CAESAR. What should I do?

Please send the name of the student to Assistant Dean Liz Trubey, who will ask the student's adviser to follow up.

A student who is registered for my class in CAESAR does not have access to my Canvas page. What do I do?

First, make sure you have published your Canvas site. If it is published, note there may be a brief lag time after a student registers; CAESAR refreshes Canvas every three hours.

A student not registered for my class in CAESAR is on the wait list for my class. What do I do?

Students on the waitlist are not enrolled in the class, and will not have access to Canvas. If you are recording your class and making the recordings available on Canvas, students will have access to the material later, once they enroll. We prefer you not add students to Canvas before they are officially registered, but if you do, you MUST remove them immediately after the add deadline (April 18) if they are not on your CAESAR roster. Until a student is registered and has access to Canvas you may also send them a Zoom invitation to attend the first or first few classes if you feel comfortable doing so.

Please monitor your waitlists so students don't fall behind on work if they should be added to the course.

A student not registered for my class in CAESAR wants to audit the class. Is this permissible?

No. Our policy against allowing auditors will still be enforced this quarter. Students must be registered to take your class. This is an equity issue since everyone else in the class is paying tuition.

May people external to Northwestern audit my class?

No. Our policy against allowing auditors will still be enforced this quarter.

Will the Weinberg College dean's office solicit mid-term advisory feedback this quarter?

Yes, it will be more important than ever to hear from faculty about struggling students. Faculty can actually use the advisory function in CAESAR at any time, but we will reach out and request advisory reports in week five. Students can drop classes until the end of week eight, much later than in a usual term. This later drop deadline means that midterm advisory grades are important. A midterm advisory report triggers an advising intervention in order to help students to improve their grade before it is too late in the quarter and they have to drop.

Are Weinberg College Advisers available for students who need their help?

Yes.  See Undergraduate Studies and Advising under Weinberg College coronavirus/covid-19 updates.

In a Pass/No Pass grading system, how should we evaluate within the quarter?

This guide from the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching recommends that during the quarter you grade papers, midterms, participation, etc. as you have always done. But we know that in practice the answer to this question will vary from discipline to discipline, and even from person to person, since Pass/No Pass poses different opportunities and challenges depending on the characteristics of a course or a field.

As members of Weinberg's faculty you have always been thoughtful about and attentive to your students' progress over the course of a quarter. We know that you will continue to be so in this new grading environment. In turn we certainly are not proscribing any best way for your to evaluate your students or requiring you to follow any one method.

As you think about assessment for your class, therefore, please keep these priorities in mind. Are your students being sufficiently challenged? Are you assigning and evaluating work so that by week five you can use the midterm advisory system to report on the students who are struggling ? In higher-level major classes are you providing feedback and engaging students who might be likely to ask you for a recommendation for med school, law school, graduate school, etc.?

We started a week later than planned. Have deadlines been adjusted accordingly?

Yes. A summary of important dates for Spring 2020 quarter can be found on the Weinberg College coronavirus/covid-19 updates page for Undergraduate Studies and Advising. See also the Registrar's Office Academic Calendar.
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