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EIU Faculty Development and Innovation Center

Best Practices for
Socially Distanced Face-to-Face Teaching

The FDIC at Eastern Illinois University has long worked with faculty to advance active learning techniques for both face-to-face and online teaching. The in-going safety concerns and current guidelines for social distancing and masking in the classroom mean that all of us will need to adjust group activities and peer-to-peer collaboration. The following recommendations are offered with those goals and considerations in mind.


 1. What do you need to start teaching for socially distanced face-to-face classes?

  • Required technologies:
    • Laptop or desktop computer
    • High-speed internet connection
    • Updated web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.)
    • A course shell in D2L Brightspace
  •  Optional technologies:
    • A webcam
    • A microphone
    • A projector

2. How will you make course announcements?

3. How will you post and organize course materials?

  • Even though you will be meeting with your students in class, we recommend you use D2L for all your course materials. Post items such as the syllabus, handouts, readings, presentation slides, and assignments in the content area in D2L Brightspace. Consider what materials, assignments, and assessments are essential to successfully achieving the course learning outcomes. Being flexible with deadlines, within the parameters of the academic calendar, is also recommended due to the nature of the semester and student internet access may vary.

4. How will you deliver lectures?

  • Be mindful of the length of your lectures, keeping them less than one hour.
    • Hit “pause” by breaking up lecture with active learning, like breakout group sessions; see Discussions below).
  • Prepare agendas for lectures and email the agendas to students.
  • Upload lecturing slides in D2L for students who could not attend in person (and for others to review).
  • You may find you need to record lectures for students who cannot attend and inform all students the session will be recorded. 

5. How will you conduct classwide discussions?

  • Use digital tools to poll or to ask questions to engage students and share immediate results with students.
  • Interact with students by using polls or asking questions and share the results with the students immediately.
  • Tools to assist socially distanced class discussions:

6. How will you conduct group discussions?

  • It is recommended to have 2, 3 or, at most, 4 students in a group so that it is easier for students socially distanced to hear each other.
    • Scenario 1:

        • Assign students who sit close to each other to a group.
        • If needed, use communication tools (e.g., messaging tools, web conferencing tools) to assist students' communication while sitting 6-feet apart. Recommend students use headphones or earbuds to communicate with others in their group.

      Scenario 2:

        • Send groups to other nearby classrooms if available or even outside for clearer socially distanced discussion. Be sure to give a specific prompt and a set return time. (Note: this will necessitate a longer breakout time.)

      Scenario 3:

        • Conduct group discussions as an online session. (This could also increase collaboration with students working online either because of their personal situations or because class has been split in two groups because of the room size.)

      Note: if you have students face-to-face AND online, see our Recommended Best Practices for Teaching through Mixed Modalities.

7. How will you conduct group projects?

  • It is recommended to have 3 OR 5 students (e.g., an odd number) in each group for group projects.
  • Assign a project manager for each group.
  • If needed, use communication tools (e.g., messaging tools, web conferencing tools) to help with in-class students’ discussions about their group projects; recommend students to use headphones or earbuds if web conferencing tools are used.
  • Give participation points to encourage group discussions.
  • Use notetaking tools to record group projects/ideas.
  • Use peer evaluation.
  • Tools for group projects:

8. How will students submit assignments?

  • Use D2L Brightspace for assignment submissions. Students can easily submit assigned material through D2L Brightspace.
  • In addition, Turnitin embedded in D2L assignment dropboxes also helps you to prevent student plagiarism.
  • When creating assignments, be sure to:
    • Give a clear indication of the assignment and expectations for the students.
    • Communicate due dates of assignments.

9. How will you assess students?

  • Conduct exams in D2L Brightspace and offer students opportunities to take exams in-class.
  • Use more formative assessments throughout semester to evaluate students learning than summative assessments.
  • Focus on solving problems while showing work and explanations to prevent students simply copying and pasting answers.
  • Require students to incorporate their own experiences in their answers to prevent cheating.

10. How will you hold office hours?

  • If your office is not big enough, conduct face-to-face office hours in an open area on campus.
  • Be flexible with your office hours.
  • Encourage virtual office hours; and allow students who do not have a stable internet to call you for their appointments.
    • EIU-Supported Web Conferencing Tools for online office hours:

How can students become more familiar with D2L at EIU?

  • D2L Student Orientation Course:  Consider requiring students to complete EIU's D2L Student Orientation (or provide extra credit for students who complete it).  Students can earn the Rookie badge after completing a series of short videos which total just over 30 minutes.  The self-directed Rookie course includes basic navigation in D2L, Content, Notifications, Email, Dropbox Submissions, Discussions, Quizzes, Grades, and Feedback.  A few simple quiz questions are embedded at the end of each video to insure completion. After successful completion of all video quizzes, a certificate is awarded. The student can submit the certificate to the instructor.  The orientation only needs to be completed one time and can be reported to multiple classes. Every student is automatically enrolled in the D2L Student Orientation course.  If a student is unable to access the orientation course, the student should contact  The orientation course is linked in the Technical Support widget on the My Home page in D2L or you can provide the link within your course.  The direct link to the D2L Student Orientation course is  Instructors can be enrolled in the orientation course as a student to view the content by sending a request to

Updated August 13, 2021

Related Pages

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Gillespie, Director, FDIC


Julie Lockett, Director of Learning Innovation


Kim Ervin
Instructional Designer


Faculty Development and Innovation Center

1105 Booth

David Smith
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


Elaine Yaw
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


Keerthana Saraswathula
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


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