Learn the Tools

Whether you are teaching online, in a hybrid modality, or in person with physical distancing, you may need to learn some new tools to help you accomplish your teaching tasks, keep students engaged, and be prepared to pivot to a different modality if the need arises. We’ve assembled a variety of resources to make it easy to know how to use what you need.

Taking Attendance with Qwickly

According to the university’s COVID-19 Class Attendance and Engagement Protocol,  faculty are required to take attendance for all in-person class meetings for the Spring 2021 semester.. According to this temporary protocol, students cannot be penalized for absences. The primary reason for documenting attendance is to facilitate contact tracing if a student or instructor tests positive for COVID-19. It will also allow the university to provide resources for affected students and faculty. Qwickly, an application already available and integrated with Canvas, is the university-wide attendance tool that faculty are required to use.

To get training and information on Qwickly, see these faculty resources:

Watch a Brief Overview of Qwickly: This brief overview of Qwickly demonstrates the basics of the tool’s functionality.

Get Started: For information on the Qwickly tool and a handy Getting Started with Qwickly guide, see the Qwickly site hosted by Information Technology Services or check out this guide, which includes a tutorial video.

Attend a Qwickly Training on Zoom: There are multiple half-hour Qwickly training sessions available. Visit the Center for the Advancement of Teaching’s workshops page to register for a session.

Watch a Pre-Recorded Qwickly Training Session: If you can’t fit a live training into your schedule, you can watch a pre-recorded session when it fits your schedule.


This Attendance Policy FAQ provides more detailed guidance on taking attendance this fall with Qwickly.

If you have additional questions, please contact the CAT at teaching.temple.edu or Help Desk through the tuhelp.temple.edu website or at 215-204-8000.

Get familiar with classroom technology

Need a better idea of the technology available in classrooms for the fall 2021 semester?

  • Click here to download a short guide to the technology available in many classrooms.
  • This slideshow (converted to PDF) provides some basics of how to use the equipment.
  • Document cameras have been installed in many classrooms. Click here for a guide to displaying objects and documents using one.
Teaching online with Zoom

Zoom, Temple’s remote video and web conferencing platform, enables you to retain many of the features of your live face-to-face course in an online setting. With Zoom, you can maintain a presence with your students during live class sessions, share your screen and broadcast your slides as you lecture, conduct polls to check for students’ understanding, create virtual breakout rooms for discussion and collaboration, and hold online office hours.

  • CAT’s Zoom page contains links to the resources you need to effectively use the platform.

  • A self-paced tutorial will help you get the most out of using Zoom for teaching and learning.

  • The Teach Online page highlights tips for using Zoom to accomplish your teaching tasks.

  • Our EDvice Exchange blog contains articles on best practices for using breakout rooms and camera policies.

  • In situations where Zoom is not available or accessible, Microsoft Teams is the recommended alternative. You can read more about Microsoft Teams here.

Teaching with Canvas

Even if you’re already familiar with Canvas, it’s worth learning more about it because it provides useful options for many modalities.  

Creating video lectures

You may want to record and share lectures so that students can access them at any time. There are a number of ways to accomplish this.

Using VoiceThread

VoiceThread is an application that allows you to share your slides (or other materials and multimedia) with your students, and then allows you and your students to add text, audio, or video comments directly on those materials. It is a great way to facilitate rich discussions asynchronously, as well as allow students to more directly interact with the material that you share with them. The VoiceThread website offers several workshops and tutorials for using this tool for teaching. Learn how to use VoiceThread in your Canvas course.



Creating Podcasts

Podcasts can be a great way to share information, commentary, analyses and interviews with students via audio recordings. Once you create a podcast (as a .mp3 or .wav file), you can upload it to Canvas for your students to access and listen to. Below are some tools that you can use to create, edit, and share podcasts.

Canvas Collaborations

Canvas Collaborations enable instructors to create collaborative documents that are easily accessed directly from Canvas and that multiple students can access and edit at the same time. These can be created using either Google Apps (Docs, Slides, and Sheets) or Microsoft Office 365 (Word Docs, PowerPoint Slides, Excel Spreadsheets). Collaborative documents are great for group work, both synchronous and asynchronous, and can be especially useful in a physically-distanced in-person or synchronous environment because they allow groups of students to gather around the same virtual document despite the distance between them.

For an introduction to setting up Google Collaborations in Canvas, check out this video.

For instructions on how to set up a Collaboration using Google Docs in your course, check out this tutorial.

You can also visit this link to learn how to create a Google Drive collaboration as an instructor.

Supporting Student Accomodations

The Americans with Disability Act states that all individuals should have equal accessibility, including online instructional opportunities, and that online courses be fully compliant from the start of the course. These steps help ensure that students with disabilities will be able to interact with your course successfully from the beginning. It's important to keep in mind, for example, that sight-impaired students often use screen readers to have web content read out loud, students who are hard-of-hearing need captions or transcripts for any content involving sound, and students with processing difficulties may have trouble interpreting content that is cluttered and unorganized.

In addition to preparing your course to anticipate the needs of students with accommodations, many other students in your course may benefit from these accessible and alternative materials as well. For example, not only can captions help students who are hard-of-hearing, but they can also be helpful for non-native English speakers, students who find it more effective to read captions while watching videos, and parents who do not want to disturb any sleeping children. This, therefore, helps your course conform to the Universal Design for Learning framework by representing information in multiple ways.

For assistance with making your course accessible and addressing student accommodations, feel free to reach out to Disability Resources and Services (DRS) at disabilityresources.temple.edu/contact.

Here are some simple strategies for creating accessible courses and demonstrating due diligence.


To support ADA compliance in online courses, we recommend ensuring all hyperlinks display as text within a sentence to foster readability. The two text samples below demonstrate the suggested ways to display hyperlinks:

A) To view ADA regulations, visit https://www.ada.gov/index.html.
B) The following webpage describes federal ADA regulations: ADA Regulations.

Example A places the whole link URL within a sentence (this option should only be used for short links). Example B links to the webpage with descriptive text, which is preceded by a description of the link and a colon; this approach improves readability, especially with longer website links.

Text Design


When designing informational material, a sans serif font is easiest to read. Sans serif is a font style that does not have additional strokes attached to the letters. Times New Roman and Palatino have the additional strokes and should be avoided. Examples of acceptable sans serif fonts are Arial and Helvetica. Once a sans serif font is selected, it is best to use the same font throughout the course. Minimizing font variation helps make courses ADA compliant, and it can help all learners stay focused.

Colors and Contrast

Another factor of readability to consider is text contrast. In order for text to be easy to read, it is best to have a dark-colored font on a light-colored background, also known as high contrast. The best option for readability is a black font with a white background. If you want to use color, you need to avoid using extremely bright background colors, such as red. It is also important to avoid red-green or yellow-blue combinations as contrasting colors because individuals with color-blindness are unable to differentiate the text from the background.


After text colors are chosen, text formatting should be examined. Text formatting should follow the "less is more" rule, particularly with the use of bolds and italics. Use them sparingly and only to emphasize extreme items. Concerning underlining, the only text that should be underlined is text that is hyperlinked to meet ADA compliance.

Images & Graphics

Images and graphics can be a powerful addition to any course as they can exemplify content; however, even images have ADA regulations. Images and graphics should be relevant to the content, easy to see, and in high resolution. It is best to avoid animated or blinking images.

An important step to make images and graphics ADA compliant is to add an alt tag or alt text. Alt text stands for Alternative Text and is a word or phrase that can be added to describe the image or graphic. This allows screen readers to read a description of an image out loud, or if an image fails to load properly, the alt text will display instead. Canvas has an alt tag option when adding an image or graphic; see the following Canvas Guide for instructions on how to add one to an image: How do I manage alt text and display options for images embedded in the New Rich Content Editor as an instructor?

Audio/Visual Items


Just like with images and graphics, it is important to ensure that courses have clear audio and video.

Clear audio requires minimal background noises, clear word pronunciation, and consistent volume. Clear video has minimal movement to avoid blurriness or refocusing and high resolution. If you are planning on recording videos of yourself, ensure that you are sitting in front of a background that is not distracting.

Closed Captioning

Both audio and video content requires written transcripts or subtitles, also known as closed captioning. When students request an accommodation of closed captioning through DRS, instructors must provide timely and accurate text alternatives for all multimedia. Click here to read Temple’s guidelines for making multimedia accessible available to all students requiring the accommodation. You can also review the CAT’s best practices for identifying student accessibility needs.

If you have a student in your course who has a documented accommodation that requires closed captions, you can fill out a TUHelp ticket at tuhelp.temple.edu requesting for your audio/video content to be transcribed or captioned for free through DRS. If you do not have a student with a documented accommodation but would still like to provide captions, you can upload your content to YouTube or VoiceThread, which provide automatic auto-captions that can be edited and corrected. Alternatively, you can upload your content to your Ensemble account at ensemble.temple.edu which includes a manual captioning tool: Amara. (Note: If you have not activated your Ensemble account yet, you can request for access via a TUHelp ticket.)

You can also ensure the settings in your Zoom account are set so that all Zoom cloud recordings are accompanied by an automatic audio transcript. This transcript can be edited for any errors. The following Zoom support guide provides more information about Zoom audio transcripts: Using audio transcription for cloud recordings.

Captions in VoiceThread

VoiceThread automatically processes closed captions for all audio and video comments and materials made via a Temple VoiceThread account. You should edit the closed captioning of your comments after they are processed in order to correct any mistakes.

Click here to learn more about closed captioning in VoiceThread.

Captioning in Zoom

To learn more about closed captioning in Zoom, please visit the CAT’s Zoom page.

Captioning Videos

Closed captioning options vary depending on the platform to which you upload and host your videos:


To request help with creating closed captions for videos, and for any other multimedia, you can put in a TUHelp request. When creating the request, select “Accessibility,” then select “Captioning: Pre-recorded Media.”

Audio/Video Length

It is best practice to have audio or video clips that are 5 to 7 minutes in length for optimal student engagement and retention. If the content takes longer to cover, it is best to create short, segmented videos, each ranging from 5 to 7 minutes in length.

File Type

The final component for audio and video accessibility is to use a universal audio or video file type. We recommend using MP3 (audio) or MP4 (video) file formats. If you create audio or video content, ensure that you export your final product as one of these file types.


All text in all course materials should be searchable, which allows learners to search for words or phrases within a document, as well as readable, so a screen reader is able to read the text out loud. If a PDF document is not searchable or readable, an accompanying plain text version should be provided.

When linking documents within a course, the label of the link should have the file extension type at the end (e.g. .doc or .docx for a Word document, .ppt or .pptx for PowerPoint, .xlsx or .xltx for Excel, etc.).

Tables and charts can also clearly exemplify content and must also adhere to ADA compliance. Any table needs to have a designated header row, and any chart needs to have designated labels and captions. This helps ensure that a screen reader navigates through the data in the table and charts logically. It is also helpful to provide a summary of the data included in the table.

In addition, the course syllabus is a document that should include an accessibility statement for students which outlines ADA procedures. The following page provides an template of an accessible syllabus as well as accompanying information: Accessible Syllabus Template.

To ensure that your course documents are accessible, you can reference the following web tutorials and Canvas Guides about making Word documents, PDFs, and Canvas Pages accessible. 

Assessments & Activities

Some students may require extra time or attempts on an online Canvas quiz or exam. You may also need to give students extensions or different due dates. The following Canvas Guides provide instructions for taking these steps.

Additionally, if you are planning on incorporating any educational technology tools into your course activities and assessments, it is important to ensure that these tools are accessible. If they are not, either choose a different tool, or provide an alternative assessment or activity for any students who are unable to use or complete the task with the tool.

Using Proctoring Software Thoughtfully

If you are considering using proctoring software for you class, please review the Faculty Guide for Selecting and Using Proctoring Software. The guide outlines options and considerations to help you decide if and how you will use the software.

You will need to submit a TUHelp ticket to enable Proctorio for your class. Note that Proctorio is no longer centrally funded, and therefore only available to faculty in select schools and colleges. Check with your department before submitting the ticket to request access.

Other Tools

Take advantage of software available through Temple for your home computer. You can download and install Microsoft Office 365 for Windows and Mac on up to five PCs or Macs via the Microsoft Download link on TUportal under TUapplications. You can also download the entire Adobe Creative Cloud (including Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat Pro and more) via the Adobe Creative Cloud link on TUportal under TUapplications.

We’re here to help

CAT is running a series of workshops on various topics. We also have online drop-in help hours Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm with no appointment needed, and consultation times available during the week. Additionally, note that you have access to 24/7 Zoom and Canvas support.

See our training schedule and register for a session or watch one of the workshops  in our archive.

Portions of this guidance have been adapted, with permission, from Indiana University’s Keep Teaching site.
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