Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Expectations and Policies for Online Teaching & Learning

How do I support my students with accommodations?

All accommodations that a student received for in-person classes must carry over to the online instruction format. If you are unsure about how to implement a particular accommodation, please first discuss it with the student.  Please contact Disability Resources at if you have any questions or concerns regarding the implementation of accommodations for online instruction. Also note that Disability Resources will be glad to work with students and faculty in cases where the faculty member intends to use a lockdown browser, as these tools are often incompatible with assistive technologies.

If my students have an accommodation for extra time on tests, what do I do for online, timed tests?

If you are giving an online, timed test and you have a student who receives additional time on exams as an accommodation, you will need to enter their additional time allotment into Canvas or whatever exam administration platform you are using.  Please email if you are unsure of how to adjust an individual student’s time in Canvas. To review at a glance how much time your student(s) with testing accommodations each receive, please log into our instructor portal at  

What if my students do not have their essential course materials with them (at home)?

Some students may have left campus without their books or other necessary materials. Student Affairs team members are assisting in helping students retrieve their belongings.  We also have the authorization to scan the books as long as we post them on Canvas (to restrict access) for students to use. The University is working to help make scanned or online copies of texts available. Email: for assistance.

What do I do if students are sick and cannot participate?

Try to be flexible about attendance and course schedules/deadlines as much as you can. Do not ask for doctor’s notes in order to excuse absences or approve  extensions. Sick students may be treated remotely unless they are seriously ill, to avoid crowding clinics and potentially infecting others.

What should I do about students’ work from before Spring Break that is now difficult to return?

If you are in possession of student work (e.g., on paper, blue books) that is now difficult to return, the ideal solution is to scan the papers and then distribute the corresponding digital documents to the individual student. If that is difficult or impossible under the current circumstances, other options include posting students’ grades via Canvas and then providing group feedback via an answer key, solution sets, and/or explanations of common errors. Important: If your course has a final examination, see guidance in CMU’s Policy on Examinations which states: “Instructors are expected to return all work assigned no later than the last regular day of classes in courses for which there is a final examination. In cases when this is not possible, an answer key, solution sets or equivalent feedback should be provided unless the final examination will not cover material in work that has not been returned.”

What is the new P/F grading policy in effect for Spring 2020?

Considering the extraordinary circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a new grading policy in which students may choose a P/F grade for any of their courses within a week after final grades are reported. The specific policy language will be added to the official CMU Policies page soon, and additional implementation details are forthcoming. Implementation details are underway. In general, faculty are advised to try their best to assign a grade that is representative of students’ submitted work, recognizing that learning, performance and assessment have all changed in qualitative ways.

Given the P/F grading policy, do I still need to compute and submit final letter grades?

Yes, instructors still need to submit letter grades per the standard process (unless the course was already designated as P/F only). Students will see their final letter grades as submitted, and then will have the opportunity to convert any number of these grades to P/F at their discretion.


What privacy protections are in place (for me and my students) when we conduct class sessions via Zoom?

CMU has an enterprise license agreement with Zoom, and Computing Services manages that license. Computing Services has prepared information here on the safeguards that are in place to protect Zoom data while still allowing appropriate system administrators to ensure reliability of the service. 

What should I do if a student expresses concern about classes being recorded?

Take this as an opportunity to remind all students that class recordings are for their use only and not to be shared – by either the instructor or classmates. If your class recordings include students participating (e.g., asking/answering questions), as they naturally will, be sure that you are only posting class recordings in areas that require authentication (e.g., via Canvas, not publicly to YouTube). See specific guidance on recording class sessions (and posting those recordings) below.

May I – and should I – record my live class sessions?

Instructors are encouraged to record their live class sessions for all students to refer to as a resource later. Recording class sessions (especially, but not only, at the beginning of this transition) is strongly recommended so that students unable to participate in real time can have access to the recordings later. Course recordings that include student contributions (e.g., student asking questions, making presentations or leading a class) where it is possible to identify the student are covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and they must not be shared with any third-party audience (those not registered or associated with the course-section). If you are recording such class sessions, follow these strict guidelines: 

  • Provide advance written notice to students that you intend to audio/video record course sessions. Notice may be provided via a posting within Canvas, via email to all students in the course or by including notice of recording in an updated course syllabus. If recording will occur on a regular basis it is sufficient to provide written notice one time.

  • When you record a live class session, orally remind students that you are recording it and that the purpose of the recording is so students in the course (and only students in the course) can watch or re-watch past class sessions.  This oral notice should be captured on the audio recording and it should be repeated at the beginning of each recorded session. Sample oral reminder: “As a reminder, this session will be audio/video recorded for educational use by students in this course.”

  • After Zoom creates a link to your class recording, share it with students via your Canvas course (see here if you are using Zoom from within Canvas), so you are sharing it only with students in your class. (Do not share the link via any publicly accessible site, like Youtube a regular webpage.) 

  • Please be aware of the needs of any students in your course with hearing or vision impairments who may have difficulty accessing audio/video recordings. Contact the Office of Disability Resources with any questions or for assistance in making audio/video content accessible to individuals with disabilities (e.g., adding subtitles, compatibility with screen-reader technology, etc.)

If instructors want to use these recordings for future courses or for any other disclosure not related to the current course, then they should obtain written FERPA consents now.  

If access to the recordings is limited to other students in the class, FERPA does not limit or prevent their use and does not require obtaining a written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or re-watch past class sessions. 

Note that the issues above do not apply to recordings that only record audio/video of the instructor, e.g., instructional videos that the instructor creates individually.

What should I do if a student expresses concern about sharing video of themselves during class?

The answer to this question is highly dependent on the format of the course and the specific needs of the particular class session. Instructors are advised to consider the value of students sharing their video relative to the course learning objectives. If students sharing video is important to achieving course learning objectives, instructors should articulate their rationale to students (including the case of creating a video-proctored environment for exams). At the same time, we should all be as flexible as possible in accommodating students’ personal situations and comfort levels with sharing video.

What if I want to prohibit my students from making/sharing their own recordings of class sessions?

Instructors who wish to prohibit students making recordings of class sessions may find some guiding questions and sample language (e.g., to be included in your syllabus) here


How do I protect the IP contained in my course materials when posting online?

Per CMU’s Intellectual Property Policy,  in most cases faculty members retain all IP rights to the instructional materials they create for their courses (e.g., instructional videos, class notes, lectures). One step to protect any materials you own is to include a notice that you are the copyright holder of your instructional materials. For your slides and other documents, consider adding this text (e.g., in the footer): 

©  [year] [Faculty member name] All rights reserved.
Example:  © 2020 Charles Xavier. All rights reserved. 

Note: Do not include CMU copyright on any materials unless Carnegie Mellon owns the materials per CMU’s Intellectual Property Policy (as an example, the materials were developed under a sponsored project and CMU owns them under 3-1 of the IP Policy).

Another step to protect recordings of your course sessions is to include the following statement in your course syllabus, Canvas site, or other locations where students may be downloading your materials: "Recordings of course sessions are provided solely for educational use by students enrolled in the course and may not be distributed to any other person or posted on the internet without the express written permission of the course instructor.”

How can the university assist in IP enforcement?

For any instructional materials that belong to the individual faculty members (i.e., where CMU does not own the materials), faculty members are individually responsible for enforcing any infringement. CMU does not have any standing for IP enforcement in those cases. However, CMU’s Office of General Counsel will provide template text to faculty members upon request that they can use to send to sites that are infringing. In many cases, the more straightforward approach is for the faculty member to complete the relevant online copyright infringement form available at the site.  For example, the copyright infringement form for Youtube is available at  If you are aware of any infringement for materials you believe that CMU owns under the IP policy, please contact CMU’s Office of General Counsel.

What if I want to prohibit my students from making/sharing their own recordings of class sessions?

Instructors who wish to prohibit students making recordings of class sessions may find some guiding questions and sample language (e.g., to be included in your syllabus) here.




If you would like support with implementing the above expectations and policies in your online course, please contact