Keep Teaching - Instructor Technology Quickguide

About the Quickguide

A variety of circumstances might require you to temporarily move portions, or all of your class materials and activities into remote modalities with minimal notice: a campus closure, increased absenteeism during a flu outbreak, a family emergency requiring your presence elsewhere, etc. This guide will help you start using SF State’s teaching and learning tools when making that shift quickly.

We will address a few important areas:

  • Planning
  • Communicating with students
  • Sharing class content
  • Using software
  • Engaging students
  • Assessing learning

How to Get Help:

Center for Equity & Excellence in Teaching & Learning

Instructors can access support resources, participate in professional development opportunities, or contact CEETL directly to receive assistance transitioning course materials and activities to remote modalities.

Contact CEETL

CEETL continues to provide consultations over Zoom, by appointment Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The best way to get in touch with CEETL is to email

Academic Technology 

Students and instructors may contact AT for assistance in accessing and using teaching and learning technologies. 

Contact AT

Academic Technology Services is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

  • Website -
  • Email -
  • Phone - (415) 405-5555
  • Chat - Click the chat link in the iLearn help block inside of an iLearn class
  • Office - LIB 80


An unexpected and rapid switch to teaching remotely during a period of disruption presents a great deal of uncertainty for both the instructor and students. To manage this transition, instructors are encouraged to remain flexible and sensitive to the emotional needs of their students and themselves. This means acknowledging the interruption, focusing on critical course learning outcomes, resetting workload expectations, and emphasizing community and resilience over high stakes testing. 

The CSU Institute for Teaching and Learning and the CSU Faculty Development Council have prepared this Teaching Remotely During Disruption handout with suggested teaching strategies to facilitate this transition.

There are two modes of instruction to consider when transitioning in-person courses to remote modalities.  You can choose one or both of the following:

  1. Teach a synchronous [in real time] class using the Zoom video conferencing application. Synchronous means that the instructor and students may be in different locations but are meeting remotely at the same time.
  2. Teach a class asynchronously [not in real time] using SF State’s Learning Management System, iLearn.  Asynchronous means that there can still be deadlines, but students complete activities at their own pace.
  3. Teach a class synchronously [in real time] and record the sessions so that students can access the recordings and materials at their convenience, and complete the activities at their own pace according to determined deadlines.

Remember iLearn is the place students will go to find out what is happening in your class. Even if you want to use synchronous Zoom sessions, make sure you launch them from within your iLearn course so students can easily find everything they need in one location.

For professional development offerings visit the CEETL webpage.

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Getting Started

iLearn is SF State's online learning management system, where instructors can organize their courses and materials, and students interact with resources and participate in classes.  Instructors should familiarize themselves with the iLearn's interface and core functions so that working in the system comes easily during the semester.

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Before students can access your iLearn class, you need to make it available to them.

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Let your students know that you will be using iLearn for your class. Direct them to to find your class.

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Instructors should refer to our list of resources for internet access from off-campus locations if needed during remote instruction and operations periods. 

Communicating with Students

For instructors uncomfortable or unable to use iLearn, campus email can be used as a method for communicating with students and sharing instructions or assignments.

  • Be sure to download class rosters from Faculty Center, including students' email to ensure durable access to student email addresses.
  • Campus email uses Microsoft Exchange. For best results, use the Microsoft Outlook email program or the Outlook Web App.



iLearn provides multiple ways to contact your students; the easiest is the Quickmail block which also retains an archive of the messages. To email your whole class, simply log in to iLearn and click on the Compose New Email link on your class iLearn page.

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​The Announcements forum is a bulletin board for faculty to post class announcements. Students can review your Announcements forum announcements any time they log in to your iLearn class. A copy of your message is emailed to your students as a digest at 3:00 a.m..

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Video conferencing via Zoom can be used to conduct virtual office hours. Zoom is a video conferencing platform with a shared display area, real-time video, voice, chat and polling options. Although Zoom is often used for facilitating class sessions with larger groups, it is easily utilized for individual conference sessions such as for conducting Virtual Office Hours.

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Establish a clear protocol for students to contact you. To do this, include a contact statement in your syllabus with details about how you prefer to be contacted, keep your iLearn profile current (office number, photo, etc.) and add your contact information at the top of your iLearn class. A template has been provided in the iLearn text editor to help facilitate entering contact information.


Sharing class content

Share resources with links to files and websites on your iLearn class page.

Just drag files from your computer and drop them directly onto your iLearn class page.

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Web conferencing (Zoom) allows instructors to meet with students online using video, voice, chat, PowerPoint and screen sharing. Web conferences are added to your iLearn class as activities.

Please note that during emergency transitions to remote instruction, especially during periods of shelter-in-place, many students do not have access to all the conditions required to share their video in real time: access to high-speed internet, a computer, webcam, and quiet, private place. To address these equity issues, faculty are encouraged to record their sessions so students can review them at a future time, and not require students to show their live camera feed at all times

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CourseStream allows you to record a lecture on your computer and post it in iLearn for your class. CourseStream is also available in some classrooms where your in-class lecture is automatically recorded and posted to your iLearn course.

Contact Academic Technology to get started with CourseStream on your work computer or in your classroom.

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Share web articles or resources in your course pages.

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Faculty and students have access to a variety of resources to integrate into courses:

Instructors can consider assigning no-cost, open educational resources to their students as a form alternative assignment during a closure or disruption.  Learn more at the Affordable Learning website.


Box at SF State is a cloud-based, collaborative storage service used to share documents with faculty, staff and students.

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Using software

Labspace provides students and faculty anytime, anywhere access to software applications.  For faculty, specialized software is more easily available for conducting research, training, or scholarship.

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Faculty and staff have access to a variety of software through campus licenses:

Engaging your students

One of the best ways to foster student engagement is to use the iLearn discussion forums. A discussion forum allows you and your students to share text, images, video and files in an ongoing, threaded conversation. Giving students authentic prompts that require some critical thinking and connect to the students' lives will help ensure a meaningful discussion.

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Students can chat with the instructor and other students while participating in a live online class session. Use breakout rooms to facilitate small group discussions between students during the class.

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Assessing your students

iLearn has a built-in gradebook to keep track of student progress and provide them with feedback. This powerful tool can be customized to suit your preferred grading method and calculations whether it is points-based, percentages-based or extra credit.

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Use iLearn assignments to allow students to submit a file or text typed directly into iLearn and collect student work, provide feedback and assign grades. 

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Turnitin is an online teaching tool that allows students to submit a file that will be automatically checked and flagged for instances of possible plagiarism, over-reliance on cited resources and improper citation. It also provides the ability to quickly mark the papers with comments and assign grades online, eliminating the need to download students’ submissions to your computer.

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Assign quizzes and exams that can be automatically graded by iLearn.  iLearn quizzes allow for many different types of questions including multiple choice, matching, true/false, short answer and essay. Quiz scores are automatically added to the gradebook, saving you time.

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Emphasize Learning Over Testing

During emergency transitions to remote instruction, especially during periods in shelter-in-place period, many students do not have access to all the conditions required for a remotely proctored exam: access to high-speed internet, a computer, a webcam, and a quiet, private place.

To address these equity issues, faculty are encouraged to replace high-stakes exams with projects that promote creativity, collaboration and new ways of demonstrating knowledge that do not require proctoring. Visit these websites for ideas and strategies for alternative final exams: 

Remote Exams and Assessments Rutgers University
Alternatives To Traditional Testing: Center for Teaching and Learning, UC Berkeley
Alternatives To Traditional Exams and Papers: Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Indiana University
Moving Your Final Exams Online: Office of Teaching and Learning, University of Denver
Online Alternatives to In-Person Proctored Exams: Office of Distance Learning, University of Florida
Final Exam Options: Keep Teaching, UC Davis
A Different Kind of Final: Faculty Focus
The Final Exam Experience: Center for Teaching and Learning, Brigham Young University 
Alternatives to Exams and Finals The Ohio State University
Assessments for Virtual Instruction Cal State San Luis Obispo
What Do Final Exams Mean During a Pandemic? Chronicle of Higher Education