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Professional Development

Our professional development team is comprised of experts in online learning.

What We Offer

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Have a question about online teaching or your online course? Want to chat with an Instructional Designer? Use this form to request a 1:1 consultation with an Instructional Designer.


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Professional Development

We offer a variety of opportunities for professional development, including live workshops, self-paced courses with feedback from an experienced online learning professional developer, short micro-courses centered around specific themes in technology and online education, and MORE! We are also available for targeted workshops and presentations for your department, just contact us below.

Contact Professional Development

PD News:

icon of a gnome The VCU Online Gnomes are ready to help you prepare for Summer 2023

Faculty leaders, deans, and department chairs may register to have one or more VCU Online Gnomes come to your group or department to assist with term and course preparation for online and hybrid courses in the Summer 2023 semester. Pre-registration is required, and a minimum of 5 faculty members must be in attendance to request a Gnome.

These sessions will not only help with term prep, but instruct faculty in how to customize elements of their Canvas courses. Sessions will be offered in a hybrid format, so we ask for departments to hold these sessions in a classroom that can accommodate hybrid instruction. For any questions, please contact Dr. Brianne Jackson at bljackson@vcu.edu. To register, please click here: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/1e901e4bece74fa197bb4d95fcd19084

Professional Development Resource Library

Excellence in Online Learning Program

Participate in courses led by our professional development team in which you can earn digital badges in online teaching and course design.

View Canvas Catalog courses ›


Attend specialty workshops with focused subject matter! You also can suggest topics for workshops and if there is enough interest, have a workshop come to your group! To suggest a topic, contact us at onlinepd@vcu.edu.

Browse workshops ›

Canvas Resources

These online, asynchronous mini-courses should take no longer than 1 hour each and cover both technological and pedagogical concerns on topics like “Creating Your Canvas Shell” and “Assessment and Technology.”

See the Workshops ›


Watch exclusive content on our YouTube VCU Online Professional Development Channel! To suggest a topic, contact us at onlinepd@vcu.edu.

Browse the videos ›

Quick Start Guides

Ready to take your teaching to the next level?

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Accessibility in E- Learning

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the US Department of Education, 19% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students reported having a disability during the 2015-2016 academic year. This means that at VCU over 5,000 students could report having a disability. Making course content accessible levels the playing field so all students have an equal chance.

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Canvas Course Navigation

Course navigation is crucial to instilling confidence in your students as they orient themselves in the new world of your course and curriculum. Your students should experience a navigation that is intuitive and free of clutter. This resource will offer suggestions that may help alleviate some of the "noise" found in canvas.

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Giving Feedback Online

Giving student in an online environment helps to keep students engaged in the class and allows for the instructor to communicate with the student on their work in a non-judgmental manner. Learning how to efficiently offer feedback to student will allow for a stronger online environment and an overall better learning experience.

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Group Work

Getting students to collaborate and work with each other allows for them to construct new knowledge, an important concept in online education. We offer insights into best practices associated with collaborative work and how to integrate it alongside you online class.

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Live Session Lesson Plan

Teaching in a synchronous environment can be a daunting task for any instructor, this resource offers a template for a lesson plan which will aid in the preparation for teaching in a challenging environment. The live session lesson plan aims to engage the learners and take away some of the fear of having to lead a class using video conferencing technology.

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“Low Tech” Methods of Online Instruction

The digital divide is a real issue at educational institutions, and instructors should be prepared to offer different modalities to students so they be successful in the online classroom. This resource aims to introduce the digital divide and provide some examples how to alleviate strain on students.

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Managing the Discussion Board

Discussion in the online environment is a concrete manner through which your students co-construct new knowledge. In order for it to be engaging and not exhausting we have a few recommendations which will help you navigate the online discussion board.

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Online Presence

In a face-to-face classroom you do not need to worry about your presence in the classroom, as you physically see the students in the classroom and they get a sense for your personality and teaching style. However, in an online environment instructors need to work a little bit harder to establish a connection with the learner, which will lead to a better learning experience.

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Online Teaching Pedagogy

Research demonstrates that online teaching methodology varies drastically from face-to-face instruction. This page was created to provide you with information and support on best practices in online instruction as well as some information on learning theories in online education.

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Synchronous Learning in Zoom

Moving from a face-to-face classroom to one based on video conferencing software can be stressful for both instructor and student. This resources aims to relieve some of the tension by providing resources and insights to the world of synchronous learning through Zoom.

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Teaching First Generation College Students

College can be an extremely stressful time for many students, and one major contributing factor of stress to college students lives revolves around the financing of their educations. This resource offers ways faculty and staff can assist in reducing some of the costs of college life, and help in reducing a little pressure associated with college life.

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Plagiarism is a real concern with any class, but there is a way to prevent cheating through SafeAssign. Utilizing Canvas you can embed SafeAssign to help encourage students to only use original work.

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Using Rubrics

In online environments communication between instructor and students is incredibly important, an effective way to maintain a level of transparency when it comes to grading is utilizing a rubric with course assignments. Rubrics can take some time to create and use, but once you have established your assignment expectations it allows for an ease of communication about it, which in the long run creates a less stressful learning experience. This resources offers different rubric methods and considerations when contemplating the creation of your rubric.

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VCU Course Evaluation

In order to improve online learning, and integrate new types of learning activities, it is important to evaluate previous courses design. This resource provides information on how to we at the ALT Lab/VCU Online evaluate online courses for quality.

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Welcome Videos

As an online educator, it is extremely important to make connections to your students. A simple and fun way to accomplish this is through the creation of a welcome video at the beginning of the course. A welcome video allows students to break down assumptions made about you as a professor and acknowledges you care about the learning relationship. This resource illustrates the power of welcome video and helps you prepare for the creation of your own.

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What are the Purposes of a Syllabus?

A course syllabus is probably the most important course document as it serves multiple purposed for the creation and direction of a course. This resources highlights some of the more traditional views of the syllabus, touches on the learning focused syllabus, and offers a template instructors can utilize to communicate their expectations effectively to students.

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What is Voice Thread? How do I Use It?

VoiceThread is an impressive tool faculty members use to enhance student engagement and online presence. It takes time to master, but once you become proficient at knowing how to use this online tool you can create, share, and comment on images, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio files, documents, and PDFs, using microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload.