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Teach Virtually Tools and Tips

I will teach you

Cougar Courses supports academic teaching and learning with the ability to communicate with your students, deliver course materials, link to online resources, collect student assignments and quizzes, facilitate discussion, and track grades at Additional resources outside Cougar Courses are available for office hours, recording microlectures, and developing lecture materials and can be linked in Cougar Courses.

Secure Zoom Meetings

As a majority of businesses around the world have moved to working virtually, there have been a massive increase in attacks on Zoom, often referred to as "Zoom bombing". Review information on how to "Secure Zoom Meetings" from our Information Security Team.

Using Recordings in Future Courses

We are often asked if classroom recordings with student discussion can be used in future courses. The Chancellor's Office has provided guidance on this topic and others in the CSU Virtual Learning and Student Privacy Rights document - April 9, 2020 (attached).

Table of Contents

Get Started

  • Virtual Office Hours for Instructors
    TRC Virtual Office Hours: 10 am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Join us at in Zoom. When you first enter you will be placed in a Waiting Room until someone is available to assist you. Once someone is available, we are limiting the sessions to 10 minutes if there is a queue. If the help will take longer than 10 minutes, we will put you in a breakout room and another person on the team will assist you. When we are on break, you will see a message letting you know when we will be back online. You can email to schedule a 1:1 consultation.
  • New to Cougar Courses training
    Instructional Design Services (IDS) has prepared a series of "how-to" instructor and student guides for each of the tools and resources available in Cougar Courses. If you are an instructor new to Cougar Courses, or want a refresher on the basics, view our New to Cougar Courses Workshop video series
  • Faculty Center Support
    Sometimes things happen and you need an alternate plan for teaching your course. It could be a natural disaster, sickness, or a conference. It could also be used for student(s) who have a prolonged absence. This page will help instructors with resources to prepare themselves and their students for possible interruptions. The Faculty Center Keep Teaching CSUSM site has additional information to consider under these circumstances.

Communication Methods

  • Communication
    Topic Description How To
    Announcements Send a message to all students. A copy is posted immediately in the Announcements forum & sent to their CSUSM email at the top of the hour. Post an announcement
    Messaging Send quick message to one or more students. It is sent immediately. Send a Message
    Zoom Office hours, Q&A session, audio & video, test preparation/review

    Record microlecture

    Live Stream

Document and Course Material Distribution

Instead of emailing materials to your students, upload them to Cougar Courses. Students can easily access the materials without searching their email and choose an alternate format (if necessary) using Blackboard Ally. You can upload files and add links. The links can be on the Internet, library resources, and/or documents created in Office 365 or Google Drive.

Lecture Content: Record, Live Stream, or Written Documents

  • Zoom
     Use Zoom to record microlectures based on core concepts is a quick way to provide audio/video lectures to your students. Breaking the content into small chucks allows you the flexibility of creating content when you have time and makes it easier for students to listen/view the content with limited access to WIFI or Internet access.
  • Written lecture
    You can also share written content using a variety of tools. The preferred method is to use Page in Cougar Courses or use Word online and share the link. Page allows students to view the content on their phone or computer without downloading the file. Page is an option in every course container.
  • Microsoft OneDrive
    Word online allows students to view the content on their phone or computer without downloading the file. By using Word online, instructors will create content once and share the link in the multiple sections of the same course. Create a OneDrive folder, add your Word, PowerPoint, or Excel documents, then share with your students.
  • Live stream
    Use Zoom to live stream your lecture, hold office hours, meet with groups of students, quiz/exam prep and review. The options are limitless. The Live Stream with Zoom guide will step you through the process.
  • Camtasia
    Camtasia is a screen recorder the campus community can use to record and edit video. Download Camtasia from our software page where you will find a list of useful software available at no charge. The file is uploaded to YouTube and shared via email or Cougar Courses.

Create Your Own Whiteboard

Engage Students in Readings

  • Perusall
    Keep students motivated and learning even when you aren’t standing in front of your classroom by using the social e-reader Perusall that is integrated in Cougar Courses. Research shows that Perusall increases student reading preparation from an average of 20-30% to >90%. By combining collaborative discussion and content annotation with automated grading that keeps students on track, Perusall creates a community among your students -- and improves their learning outcomes -- even when you can’t meet with them face-to-face.

Interactive Content

Create and share rich and interactive web content specially designed for use in e-learning with H5P. H5P is integrated in Cougar Courses as an activity. View the examples and get started today.

Streaming Media

Assignment Submissions

There are several assignment types integrated in Cougar Courses. The regular assignment, Turnitin, and PoodLL. The guide "Which assignment type and options suit your purpose?" will help you choose which one to use.


Students can complete quizzes/exams online and the grade goes into the gradebook. There are a variety of question types to choose from including multiple choice, essay, and matching. If you are worried about academic integrity, use the Respondus LockDown Browser (RLB) and Monitor. The RLB prevents students from using the computer to find answers to questions but doesn't prevent them from using a phone, friend, or separate computer. RLB and Monitor records students while they are taking the quiz/exam for review later (if necessary). You can also use Zoom to proctor the exams similar to what you would do in the classroom. The students would need a webcam to watch them all in gallery mode.

NOTE: Students cannot use Chromebooks with Respondus LockDown Browser. Please ask your students what technology they have available.

Proctoring Options

Respondus LockDown Browser is a locked browser used specifically for taking online quizzes in Cougar Courses. It prevents students from printing, copying, going to another URL, or accessing other applications (like Word) during a quiz. If a quiz requires that LockDown Browser be used, students will not be able to take the quiz with a standard web browser. There is also the additional option of Respondus Monitor, which uses a student's webcam to record them while they take the quiz/exam. These videos are then viewable by the instructor through the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard. Automated video analysis automatically flags any suspicious behavior in these videos and prioritizes them for review. You should create a practice quiz in your course for your students to test their configuration. They want to access the practice quiz each time prior to taking an actual quiz/exam.

  • Respondus LockDown Browser & Monitor
    The student Respondus LockDown Browser guide steps them through the process of installing it on their computer. Students must have a PC or Mac with a full operating system. A Chromebook does not work with Respondus LockDown Browser. It is possible to use an iPad but there may be issues that we are unable to troubleshoot.
  • Proctor with Zoom

    Some students may not have access to a computer with a webcam and may not have access to an external webcam. Instructors may elect to use Zoom to proctor those students themselves.

    ProctorU is a live proctor that is not taking new clients and is very expensive (~$18 per student/per quiz or exam).

Class Discussions

  • Forum
    Keep the conversation going, create a space for student to post questions, or facilitate groupwork using the Forum. Cougar Courses has several forum types to choose from to fit your course needs. Our "Using Forums" guide provides information on the types and strategies for optimizing forum participation.

Student Study Place

  • Use Zoom

    Create a "Student Space" Zoom recurring meeting for your students to meet and chat without you. This will give them easy access to peers to study with and ask questions as well as chat with like they would in class.

    Create the meeting with the password and post the link & password in Cougar Courses.

Office Hours

  • Office hours
     Zoom video conferencing is available for all faculty, staff, and students. It works on computers, tablets, and phones. You can use audio only or display your video during office hours. You can easily share your desktop or website. Your students can enter/exit as needed. If you want to have students wait to enter, similar to standing outside your office, you can use the waiting room feature in Zoom. Be sure to set a password for the meeting. Post the Zoom link and password in Cougar Courses.

Group Projects

Students working in groups can use Zoom for live meetings and recording their presentation. They can use a Forum to facilitate an asynchronous discussion with the group members and the instructor. Using Office 365 or Google programs, they can outline and write a paper and create a presentation. The guide "Group Work and Roles" provides a framework for successful student projects. Students can submit their final project to an assignment or forum. Forums can be peer reviewed.

Report and Analytic Tools

Cougar Courses has a number of reports available to provide insight into your student use of Cougar Courses. These reports will enable you to provide support and interventions.

Software Access

All students and faculty can download the Office Suite and Adobe Creative Cloud. Additional software can be accessed through CougarApps. The list of available software is CougarApps is available on our Software Page.

Accessibility & Inclusive Excellence

You may be contacted by a student who receives services through Disability Support Services or a student who needs an accommodation due to sickness or other personal reason.

Examples from Instructors

Our instructors have put together these examples to help you during your planning and transition. If you have examples you would like to share, please email them to We will get them posted as soon as we can.

Microsoft Teams