Fall 2021 Teaching

As you prepare for the coming semester, take note of our fall support resources, tips for setting up your Canvas course, and some steps for success in your courses.


The first day of classes is on Thursday, September 2nd, 2021.
The Fall semester runs from September 2nd through December 20th, 2021.

Fall Canvas courses will be published Monday, August 30th.
Please note that online programs may follow different dates.

Our Instructional Designers are available to meet with you as you prepare for the Fall semester.

Schedule a One-on-One Course Design Consultation

Teaching with a Mask

This Fall may be the first time many faculty are teaching while wearing a mask. ITDS has prepared some recommendations and tips to better communicate while wearing masks in the classroom. This includes using captioning technologies, audibility tips, class discussions using Canvas, Padlet, Perusall, Google Docs, etc. Please check out our site at Teaching with a Mask.

Fall 2021 Checklist

Fall Support:

  • New to Teaching at MSU?
    Join us for a quick overview of the instructional technology resources available to you at MSU. We will share tips for setting up your course in Canvas and other tools to enhance teaching and learning. We will also review other tools available to faculty, including Zoom, Google Apps and more. Register for an upcoming session.For faculty seeking self-paced resources, please consult the following:

  • Fall Walk-In Support and Online Consultation Sessions
    The ITDS team will be available for course design and Canvas support to start the Fall 2021 semester. Please bring your questions and “walk-in” anytime between 10 am and 3 pm.

Dates: August 30th to September 3rd and September 6th to September 10th
Times: 10am – 3pm
Location: The 5th floor of University Hall in rooms 5009 and 5011
Can’t make it to campus? No problem! We will also be offering support through One-on-One Consultations online during these two weeks. Sign up for a time slot and let us know how we can help. You will be paired with an ITDS team member for support through a zoom meeting.

  • Technical Support:
    Make sure your devices are registered on the campus network (see the Connect to Wireless page). If you need technical support, please contact the IT Service Desk or your academic technology team. You may also review information on classroom technology on the Audio-Visual Services website, check NEST for modality, room, and other details.

Set up Your Canvas Course

  • Review MSU’s Canvas Universal Guidelines.
  • Start building your course using the  MSU Canvas Course Template already imported into all Fall 2021 courses.  You may incorporate materials from previous semesters by importing or copying your course from a previous semester.
  • Use the how-to documentation to create or modify your syllabus available in all Fall courses. If you choose not to use the Syllabus template, post a course syllabus in an accessible format in Word or PDF  including details about the course modality and your meeting schedule.
  • Use modules that are logically organized (e.g., weekly, thematically) and consistently structured. Modules can include content pages, discussions, files, assignments, and quizzes. Include a Getting Started module that contains a link to MSU’s student Canvas orientation course and welcoming activities (e.g., self-introduction discussion, pre-course survey, and/or syllabus quiz).
  • Set up a course homepage (either a Canvas page or Canvas modules) that orient students to the course as a whole and clearly indicate where and how to get started.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Rich Content Editor.
  • Provide instructional materials that are accessible and easy to access and linked where appropriate within course pages or modules. Use the Canvas Accessibility Checker and Ally to help ensure your course content is accessible.
  • Familiarize yourself with your gradebook and ensure your assignment group weights match the grading scheme from your syllabus correctly.
  • Create assignments to allow students to submit their work (documents, media files, links to online work, etc.). Set due dates and points assigned as appropriate.
  • Set up discussions to facilitate academic discourse, share course logistics, build community, collaborate, etc.
  • Review the course before publishing it. Use the link validator, student view and double-check your assignment due dates.
  • Publish your course. Fall courses will be automatically published Monday, August 30, but it is recommended that you publish your course earlier.
  • Post an announcement to inform students of the course modality and your requirements for the first class. Courses must be published for announcements to be visible to students.
  • Review other recommendations for facilitating your course on our Get Started page.

Steps for Success to Start the Fall Semester

Design with the End Goal in Mind:All decisions related to your course’s design should be made in consideration of your learning objectives and course goals. What lectures, readings, and other supplemental content can you select and produce to help students achieve those goals? What activities can you conduct to reinforce those concepts? What meaningful opportunities will you provide for students to demonstrate their competency? 

Establish an Inclusive and Welcoming Course Environment: Be intentional about building community and class climate. Offer an opportunity for students to share important details about themselves, their identity, including pronouns, and other information via a pre-course survey. Gathering this information enables you to connect with your students by getting to know more about them and establishing a teacher presence. Knowing more about your students can inform how you facilitate the course. It is also helpful for students to get to know you. In addition to being in class together, students benefit from reminders through Canvas announcements and meeting with you during office hours. 

Make the Most of In-Class Time: Leverage lessons learned from pandemic teaching to make the most effective and productive use of face-to-face time with your students. Think of ways you can maximize in-class time for meaningful learning opportunities rather than simply lecturing. Consider a flipped classroom model, where lectures and readings are consumed asynchronously in Canvas before class and class periods are reserved for active learning activities such as group work, projects, discussions and more.

Promote an Equitable Course Experience:Use Peralta College’s Online Equity Rubric as an evaluation instrument to make your students’ learning experience more equitable. The rubric’s criteria covers important areas such as representation of broad diversity in your content, the inclusion of varied means for students to express their competency, and more. Ensure your course is accessible to all and follows Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles.

Build Community and Social Presence: Create a safe and welcoming space for students to connect with you and each other. Leverage formal and informal opportunities to facilitate conversation in class or outside of class (e.g. Canvas). Create both physical and digital opportunities for students to connect, so all students have ample opportunity to share their ideas across multiple modalities.  Include multiple opportunities for students to interact with each other and the course content as a community of inquiry. Allow students to develop and demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways (i.e. collaborations, group work, etc.).

Rethink Assessment: Authentic forms of assessment more closely replicate the application of your content in the real world, and our goal as educators is to demonstrate how our content exists outside the academic bubble and in application. Traditional quizzes and exams often only assess rote memorization and regurgitation of concepts. If you must use them, make them lower stakes and spread them out throughout the course. Consider other tips on how to structure your online exams to promote academic integrity.

Leverage Instructional Technologies to Maximize Engagement:You can take advantage of instructional technologies whether you are teaching inside the physical classroom or fully online. Tools integrated into Canvas such as Padlet, Panopto, Perusall can take your course content to the next level. Native Canvas tools such as online discussions, collaborations, and group work help build community and social presence. Learn more about using instructional technologies to engage your students.

ITDS Workshops and Events

The ITDS group continues to provide faculty development workshops and events on a broad range of topics about teaching, learning and technology and deliver them in a variety of formats, such as in-classroom, online, and mix of in-person and synchronous online. The ITDS workshop and events website has a new look and feel! Please check it out at: https://itdsevents.montclair.edu/

Our Instructional Designers are available to meet with you as you design or re-design your course.

Schedule a One-on-One Course Design Consultation