Online Tools for Instructional Continuity

Emergencies related to severe weather or a health crisis can result in missed class time for students and instructors. UNM recommends the following to keep a main campus or branch class going if you or students can’t safely get to class. UNM recognizes that not all students and faculty will be able to access the internet regularly in some emergency contexts; we encourage students and faculty to communicate about possible alternative formats.

Just as you would with a classroom meeting, thinking through communication, assignments, and assessments in an online format will help you provide continuity in an emergency.

Related: For further guidance and information related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit UNM's Coronavirus page.

Getting Started with Online Instruction

Faculty have many options for supporting instruction, in person and online. This page provides some quick-start documents for using institutionally supported tools for online media, web conferencing, and instruction. Through collaboration between IT Academic Technologies, the Center for Teaching and Learning / Center for Digital Learning, UNM Online, and others, there are a variety of support resources to get you started. Need a little personalized help? Webinars, drop in Virtual Consultations, phone support and much moire is available. See the "Getting Help and Support" section at the bottom of this page.

Online Communication

Consistent communication strategies help avoid confusion. Much of this may already be included in your syllabus, but you may need supplemental tools to support academic continuity in an emergency.

From LoboMail and other tools included in UNM's Microsoft O365 service to the Learning Management System (UNM Learn), there are many institutionally supported tools to assist with instruction.

UNM Learn provides a one-stop location for course information and communication, including feedback, discussion, course email, and announcements. We recommend setting up your course in UNM Learn if you have not already done so. The Center for Digital Learning has some good videos for getting started in UNM Learn and this Where to Start Guide. They have also created a basic Blackboard Learn template including a Zip file and instructions to help you get started quickly.

Virtual consultations on adjusting to distance learning, inclusive teaching practices, class culture, or active learning with Center for Teaching Excellence and Writing Across Curriculum are available. Reserve a spot online.

Other Tips for Online Communication

  • Post your syllabus online and keep it current
  • Notify students of what will happen should class be unable to meet, including:
    • How you will contact them
    • How you will share class materials and updated due dates and assignments to ensure instructional continuity
    • How they can reach you and/or TAs and GAs

Whether you are using UNM Learn or some other tool, make sure your students know where to find course information online and provide detailed instructions for assignments, online meetings, and technologies. If you will be handling student information, make yourself aware of FERPA guidelines and use best practices for working with UNM Data

Course Content

Documents, readings, and course materials can be posted online in UNM Learn, linked from library databases, or shared with your students in a variety of ways. Make sure your class knows where to look for them.

Asynchronous Tools

Asynchronous content is often the easiest to develop and does not require everyone to be online at the same time. This is especially important for individuals without adequate technology at home or who have circumstances that prevent meeting at a specific time.

  • Asynchronous content could be as basic as posting an assignment, a reading, or having an email discussion.
  • If your class meetings traditionally include lectures, you can easily Convert and Upload a PowerPoint Lecture or Record a PowerPoint Lecture with Capture using Kaltura directly within your Learn course. Kaltura is integrated with UNM Learn, and is a secure and scalable solution for delivering course video. Long online videos are less effective than shorter, focused 3-5 minute ones, so recording long lectures as a single video is not specifically advised. With online content, it is important to think through copyright protections and accessibility accommodations, including captioning costs, as well as effective delivery in the distracting world of online media.
  • UNM Learn has discussion tools that can facilitate asynchronous class discussions and collaborative writing

Synchronous Tools

Some instruction and student interaction requires live collaboration. This can be especially true for things like tutoring, office hours, or those cases where you need a live discussion. Be sensitive to student needs with required synchronous sessions.

  • Zoom can facilitate synchronous online meetings for online, real-time, interactive classes and office hours. UNM has an Enterprise agreement with Zoom that covers Main Campus (including HSC) and the branches. If you will be hosting meetings with Zoom, request a Zoom Pro license (No charge for UNM users).

    Zoom supports screen sharing, polling, chat, and breakout rooms for smaller discussions. For students with limited Internet access, Zoom also supports a conference call number (audio only). Zoom is integrated with UNM Learn allowing instructors to schedule and manage Zoom meetings from within their course. UNM Zoom meetings you record to the cloud now automatically upload to your (the meeting host’s) Kaltura My Media tool. For information more information see Getting Started with Zoom Inside UNM Learn. 

Develop a plan for make-ups or dropping content if a lab, workshop, or studio must be missed.

Distributing, Collecting, and Grading Student Work

There are many online tools for receiving documents and course assignments, from email and OneDrive to UNM Learn. Make sure your students and teaching assistants know which methods you will be using.

  • UNM Learn supports an online gradebook and workflows for automatic grading of multiple choice assessments and providing feedback on a variety of assignment types.
  • UNM is a Creative Campus, which means that all students have access to Adobe Spark, and most students have access to the full Adobe Creative Cloud set of tools. These can be particularly powerful for development of student presentations and media assignments.
  • UNM Learn supports online quizzes and assessments and virtual proctoring tools.
  • Our university offers a wide variety of programs with unique instructional needs. As an individual and as a department, consider how you will adapt coursework in the case of an extended emergency.


LoboVirtualDesktop (or Windows Virtual Desktop, WVD) is a technology that allows you to securely access UNM desktop applications from your own, personal device without actually installing the apps or investing in specialized hardware. You can access applications anywhere you have internet connectivity (home, dorm, coffee shop). This means you can run apps like Adobe Creative Cloud, ArcGIS, Matlab, Microsoft Office, PTC Creo, and SPSS on your personal laptop, phone or tablet from anywhere with very minimal setup and overhead.

LoboVirtualDesktop is available to students and active staff and faculty. Get started with LoboVirtualDesktop by visiting this website and requesting access.

Getting Help and Support

From technical help with the tools, pedagogical support for adapting teaching, and library support for incorporating library resources to student tutoring and accessibility, UNM has many support resources available. The following is a listing of commonly used services.

Familiarity with these tools and opportunities takes some time and practice. We recommend implementing some of these strategies in your course now so that they are familiar if they are needed in an emergency.

Available Tools for Online Instruction

UNM Learn

UNM Learn is a Learning Management System that supports online communication, grading, assessments, assignment submission and grading. The system is available to all faculty by request, and online/hybrid classes by default. A great place to start with Learn is this Getting Started Guide.

Online Videos / Lecture Capture

UNM supports Kaltura, an online tool for delivering video to classes in UNM Learn. Kaltura supports upload of video, or recording of content directly in the tool itself. (See: Get started with Kaltura).

Web Conferencing / Collaboration

From office hours to synchronous online meetings, UNM supports Zoom for live interaction with your students.


Zoom is an industry-leading web conferencing system that supports synchronous communication. UNM has signed an enterprise license with Zoom, and we can provision you with a Zoom Pro account upon request. The Zoom Information Page has good information about needed equipment and best practices for using the tool. For main and branch campus users, request a Zoom Pro license. HSC users can request an account through the office of the HSC CIO.

Available Tools for Online Instruction

Inclusive Access and Open Educational Resources

In partnership with the UNM Bookstore, UNM supports Inclusive Access agreements with many publishers which offer substantial discounts on electronic textbooks. Please contact the UNM Bookstore if you would like to participate in the Inclusive Access program. Widespread use of online tools and digital devices also offers opportunities for faculty to decrease the cost to students through the use of Open Educational Resources.


Available Tools for Online Instruction

News and Resources

Contingency planning for moving instruction online is a national effort right now. As such, many organizations are developing helpful resources and instruction for how to quickly adapt a class for online instruction. Not every tool mentioned in the articles below are licensed for use at UNM, but we have selected a variety of articles that we believe offer valuable insight for faculty who are thinking about how to best support their students in the event of an emergency.

Chronicle of Higher Education - Going Online in a Hurry

NYU Shanghai - Digital Teaching Toolkit

Online Learning Toolkit - Emergency Checklist for Moving Instruction Online

WICHE Consortium for Educational Technology - Coronavirus resource page

Questions to ask students as you’re getting ready to move online

Questions to ask students about online course feasibility (Danya Glabau)

Tools to help students navigate online learning

Dr. Caleb McDaniel’s and Dr. Jenifer Bratter’s Tips for Learning During Disruption 

Sources of ongoing/in-development teaching resources

Sarah Laiola’s Google Sheet collecting tweets, threads, and other resources for teaching online (updated multiple times a day and invites comments for adding content)

UNM Professor Cash Clifton's New Mexico Adult Education Distance Learning Resources

Keeping Accessibility and Student Experience in Mind

Aimi Hamraie’s Mapping Access: Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID or her excellent thread on accessibility within content management systems (such as Blackboard/UNM Learn). 

A curation of tweets, links and tips for teaching online with care in mind, thinking beyond the technical.

Joint statement by the Online Learning Consortium, Quality Matters, and WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) Cooperative for Educational Technologies