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IntroSems and COVID-19

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Teaching Your Introductory Seminar Online? 

Consultations & Trainings

For an updated schedule of trainings and workshops, please see the University-wide schedule at Padlet.

Topics offered include Motivating Student Learning in an S/NC World, Zoom for Small Seminars, Zoom for Lecture Classes, Canvas, Remote Assessments, and Online Course Development.

For consultations, please contact Lauri Dietz directly ( and she will happily find time to meet via phone (650.497.0964) or Zoom. CTL is also hosting drop-in virtual office hours Mondays-Fridays, 8:00 AM-6:00 PM. Drop in to their Zoom room any time.  

Additional Resources include:

If you have not done so already, please create a Stanford Zoom account and download the client to any computer you plan on using for teaching. This will ensure you have full functionality and an easy integration with Canvas. 

Guidance for IntroSem Intructors

Monday, March 16 Email (morning); sent from 

We hope this email finds you healthy and hope that you are finding ways to attend to your own care amidst all these sudden and disruptive changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that much is being asked of you in a short period of time. But, you do not need to go this alone. We are here to support you every step of the way. 

You are teaching an IntroSem at a particularly critical time. We believe that IntroSems potentially have a vital role to play in giving undergraduates a safe harbor in these tumultuous seas. The small seminar size affords more opportunities for students to connect directly with other students and with you so that, even though they are dispersed geographically, they can still feel part of a tight-knit community that cares about them--a community that is there to check in, listen, and learn together. 

Similarly, as the IntroSems Team, we want you to know that we are here to be your safe harbor as you head into what are likely the uncharted waters of teaching online. Whether this is your first IntroSem or your tenth, we recognize that there are many considerations specific to teaching a small seminar as well as an IntroSems, and we are here to help you navigate them. 

We’d like to take this time to outline some recommendations as you conceptualize and plan your online IntroSems, as well as to highlight the trainings and other support we are offering tailored to IntroSems faculty. Most importantly, please know that you can reach out to any of us with questions and concerns specific to your IntroSem. 


  • Contact your Students. Students will be unsure whether the class is happening. Reach out to your enrolled students to reassure them that you are planning on teaching the course and that you look forward to working with them. It’s ok to acknowledge that this is new to you and that there will likely be something that they figure out together. You may want to encourage them to start familiarizing themselves with the resources (including tutors!) available to help them become successful remote learners. 
  • Send a Tech Accessibility Survey. Whether in your initial email or separately, we recommend distributing a survey to find out some key information that will help you plan the class, such as time zones and access to reliable internet connections. Attached is a survey you are welcome to use and adapt. This survey will be available as a Tech Accessibility Survey Module you can add to your Canvas site in Canvas Commons.   You should also be able to access this Google Form version and make a copy for your own use, if Canvas is not yet ready to go.
  • Assign Digital Readings First. Especially in the first couple of weeks, we recommend prioritizing readings and other materials that you can post on Canvas or that are readily available online. The bookstore is offering free ground shipping, so texts you requested will be available. However, it may take students a little longer to acquire hard copies, so pushing those to later in the quarter is advised. Canvas has information on setting usage rights for uploads here and Stanford Libraries addresses common copyright situations here.     
  • Plan a Virtual Field Trip. Google’s Arts & Culture initiative and the Smithsonian have amazing high resolution virtual tours of landmarks, museums, national parks, and heritage sites from all over the world and related to every discipline. Why not use a Zoom session to explore one of these virtual locations together? 
  • Hire a Course Development Assistant (CDA) to help with online preparations. If you don’t have one already, IntroSems will happily pay to support a CDA for your class (hourly pay, usually up to 10 hours/week), typically a student who has taken your IntroSem or another class with you before. [UPDATE] Stanford has waived the requirement that student workers be in California--we are approved to hire students remotely as long as they can do all of their work remotely. If you have questions or concerns, contact Dayo ( to brainstorm ways to get you additional support. Our website has details for how to hire a CDA and the types of work you can assign them. The student can’t begin work until the hiring process is complete, so please get your request in as soon as possible if you would like a CDA. 

More Resources for Online Teaching