Course shopping, First Lecture, Polling, and an Update on Accessibility

Student’s course shopping
Students may want to visit courses during the add/drop period and may be in touch with you to ask if that is allowed.  You could write a response that you can copy and paste into replies to students with your policy or that directs students to an appropriate departmental support team member.   You could, for example, share a Zoom link with students if you want to allow them to visit your course.  Don’t just post your Zoom link publically as you don’t want Zoom bombers across the semester.

The university is also collecting information from departments on this topic to connect with the course roster.  Each department will submit from the following choices:  "Contact department", "Contact instructor," "See department's Canvas site", or "No shopping supported."

First Lecture
The first lecture is especially important this fall.  Regardless of the mode you are teaching in this fall, you want to do several things in the first lecture:

  • Confirm that students are in the correct place by posting the course number and name prominently on the board, or slide as the students enter in person or online.  They will be anxious enough with the start of classes feeling very different – at least reassure them they are in the correct location.
  • Give them reason to be excited about the material, the course, and the delivery mode.  Enliven the start with an interesting application of the course material and some good visuals.  Confirm the delivery mode and how it will work for this course.  Do this within the first 10 minutes while they are still gathering an impression of the course and your teaching.
  • Especially for online courses, emphasize how the students will be able to interact with you the course staff and each other.   How will the class be a community of learners?
  • Especially for in-person courses and hybrid courses, acknowledge how different the classroom may feel. Explain how the class will work with social distancing and how they will still be able to engage with questions and activities and content explanations during class.  Be sure to welcome both in-person and remote learners.  Make it clear that you are teaching to both groups.  This will also be reassuring to any students worried about potentially being quarantined.  
  • For hybrid courses especially, go over how to know when they attend in-person and when they attend online.  How will this be made to work?
  • Give the students a sense of how they will work with the material to learn it, such as homework, projects, papers, case studies, lab sessions, etc.
  • Students will care about grading and be worried about not having the same option to switch to SU at the end of the term.  Say something about grading.
  • This is likely enough logistics for the first lecture.  Some they can read on the syllabus and some can be covered in the next lecture.  For example academic integrity can wait till lecture two when it is less likely to be lost in the logistics overload.

Polling – information from Pat Graham, CTI
A university-wide site license has been purchased for Poll Everywhere, a mobile classroom polling product. This means polling is now available for use in any Cornell class at no cost to students, instructors, or departments. Poll Everywhere is similar to iClicker, but does not require a physical device.  As more instruction moves online, the University recognized the need for a polling solution with no cost to instructors or students. A number of Cornell instructors have used Poll Everywhere over the years, finding it to be an effective active learning tool.

What this means to you:

  • You and your students can now use Poll Everywhere at no cost for your fall courses.
  • Workshops for Poll Everywhere are being offered now.  Please see our page for details.
  • Get started yourself: Request a Poll Everywhere Cornell account by filling out this form. Note: You will need to do this even if you have already used Poll Everywhere. Any polls previously created will be preserved.
  • Support for Poll Everywhere will be provided through the Center for Teaching Innovation. See the recently revised polling section of our web site, or write us at
  • Poll Everywhere can be integrated with your Canvas course, similarly to iClicker.
  • The features of Poll Everywhere and a comparison to iClicker can be found here.
  • If you have further questions about this decision, or feel you need to continue to use iClicker, please contact us at

If you have any questions or concerns about the Classroom Polling service, you can also reply to this email.

If you have already started to use Poll Everywhere you still need to fill out the form to ensure your account is a part of the Cornell license.

Update on Help for Accessibility of Course Materials that are Online

CTI and MTEI both have information on making course materials ADA accessible on their websites.  



Equidocs is now licensed by Cornell and thus free for faculty to use.

CTI has some volunteers that can help with making course materials accessible.  Request help via