• Make quick content quizzes to check for understanding. (cloze activities, M/C, T/F). Set them to be automatically marked. Ask your students to do these before that activity’s assignment to ensure that they’ve read the content.
  • Turn eLO created question assignments into quizzes to reduce uploading and downloading.
  • Use quizzes as a learning tour or webquest, which provides step by step instructions through a task and asks for answers to various questions about the task along the way.


  • Edit eLO provided content to suit the needs of your students. Remove everything that you don’t want them to see.
  • Add more free-to-use images to improve the appearance of the course or to visually explain concepts.
  • Embed video clips that reinforce learning.
  • Turn some of the uninspiring text content into an embedded google slideshow that chunks the text into different slides.
  • Add new relevant links.
  • Create graphic banners in the description area above the content that


  • Create additional, alternative summative assignments in order to offer students choices.
  • Provide the option for students to do creative assignments in Web2.0 tools like Glogster, Prezi, Mural.ly, or Google Presentations. Create a page to showcase these to other students, just like a bulletin board in the classroom.
  • Post exemplars of quality assignments for all summative assignments so that students know exactly what is expected. Create your own or ask students if you can use theirs in the future.


  • Keep your news stream current and fresh. Update the News stream daily with interesting, even unimportant things just as a teacher would chat about things in class. Don’t let things sit there for more than a few days.
  • Post regular and interesting news articles or news clips.  Try www.newsy.com 
  • Share funny and appropriate “meme” pictures just for a laugh.
  • Post interesting videos whether they relate to the content or not, just to build community and generate interest in logging into the course.
  • Attach an image to each news post. It makes it look better, but it also attracts attention and visually prompts the student that there is something new there to read.
  • Try embedding funny or interesting animated gifs.  Copy and paste the HTML code from a site that provides free gifs right into your newsfeed.  (ex: http://www.mikesfreegifs.com/main4/page_2.html, http://www.catgifpage.com/) Students may get a kick out of them odd silly animations. Don’t over do it!
  • Considering embedding an entirely different service for your news tool, like a Google Sites news stream. This way, parents can access the blog part of the course without logging in.
  • Pre-write news items when you have time and release them as you need them.
  • Avoid too much text in a news post or students will not read it.


  • Have a chat room set up and ready so you can chat with students if you see they are online.
  • Intelligent agents. Have emails sent out automatically based on a variety of triggers, such as a student not logging in for a certain number of days, or a due date missed.
  • Put a chat room at the bottom of your main homepage, it will tell you when students log in and out.
  • Embed a Twitter feed into your course homepage so you’re always able to send quick updates to the site. This models an active approach to ongoing learning inside and outside the classroom. Invite students to use the hashtag.
  • Use an embedded blog service where students can have their own blog.


  • Record audio clips of yourself explaining concepts or even just a greeting for the week/day. Consider having background music playing behind you.
  • Record yourself reading content that would otherwise be boring to read, just to differentiate the learning method.
  • Use tools such as SoundCloud.com, D2L’s record audio feature, or Voki.com
  • Provide opportunities for students to create video or audio files to submit for assignments rather than just text.


  • Edit the discussion topics to suit your particular class or to be about current hot topics.
  • Try having an ongoing discussion for an entire unit that students are expected to contribute to, rather than limiting a discussion to one activity.
  • Practice making short replies to all students’ initial posts on a topic, just so they know that you’ve read it and that their words are valued.
  • Divide your students up into discussion groups to discuss hot topics.
  • Set your discussions so that students must post their own thread before seeing the posts of others.


  • Create a clear and easy to understand Help widget at the side so that students have a way of accessing help when they first start, even if they don’t know how to use the email system. Don’t rely on the news stream, since late entrants won’t see it front and centre.
  • Update the FAQ regularly with questions from your students so that students can have quick access to helpful answers.
  • Record a screencast tour of the course that shows where all the necessary tools are and how to do the basics in your course.

Screencasting/Video recording

  • Introduce yourself at the beginning of the course with a video in order to ‘humanize’ yourself and help the students get to know you. Say the same sort of things that you would say to a f2f class.
  • Record your screen and your voice explaining how to do things inside the course. Jing, Screencast-o-matic, Camtasia.
  • Record yourself explaining a concept, demonstrating a technique, performing a task and embed or post it into the appropriate content page.
  • Offer students the choice of submitting some assignments as videos or screencasts. This helps meet Oral Communication expectations in some courses.
  • Offer your students the choice of submitting an assignment as an audio recording (SoundCloud is an easy one for students to use.)

Embedding Tools

  • Embed a padlet.com bulletin board into your side bar for posting quick little notes and pictures, just to liven things up.
  • Use timetoast.com to show timelines with popup details about each event. Great for history classes.
  • Embed picasa or flickr web albums
  • Use SurveyMonkey for embedding decent looking surveys where students see the class results after they and can see it update as more votes come in.
  • Embed a class instagram feed into your course homepage
  • Create a talking site host on voki.com
  • Create your own personal avatar and get students to as well. Try doppelme.com
  • Embed a Google map when referring to an important place, whether it be the setting of a novel, or in a geography unit, or any course where it would be helpful for students to see the real location.
  • Embed an editable mural with Mural.ly
  • Explore a regularly updated list of embeddable tools on www.coursehelp.ca 

Community Building

  • Create fun surveys in the discussion area as an opening activity so that you can learn about your students and they about each other.
  • Make it an opening assignment for students to fill out, in detail, their LMS profile.
  • Fill out your own LMS profile in detail as students are likely interested in knowing more about you.
  • Ask students to post thoughts on an open bulletin board like padlet.


  • Record audio feedback for students. This can be done from within the vLE or in the iPad Grader app
  • Enter the rubrics (eLO created or your own), into the rubric tool.
  • Attach automatic feedback to quizzes to reduce marking time.


  • Use the grades tool so that students can see their performance as they go throughout the course.
  • Organize your grade items clearly into units to make it easy for the students to understand their performance in different parts of the course.

Release conditions

  • Make certain pieces of content only available after certain steps have been taken by the student. The completion of a quick quiz about the content area of an activity could be the requirement for the actual assignment to be revealed, forcing the student to read the content material.
  • Attach release conditions to news items, so that when a student completes an assignment a corresponding news item will open for them.

Theme Editing

  • Create a theme that represents both you and your students.
  • Change the theme background to match the current unit. (ie, a background of cells for a cellular biology unit).
  • Make graphical unit headers using the Module description text area. (See here).


  • Use progress report and other student information tools to collect information on students use of the LMS and their performance


  • Link all assignments into the due dates in the Calendar.