ESIA Online

The Elliott School’s Office of Online Education is responsible for providing Elliott School faculty and staff with resources and information regarding online education. The ESIA Online team provides one on one consultation, recorded instructional videos, and materials and guides related to online instruction.

Following best practices learned from the Master’s of International Policy and Practice, Elliott’s first online graduate program, we were able to facilitate the abrupt pivot to online learning in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  Since March 2020, ESIA Online has been able to provide workshops, resources and guidance to both faculty and students on how best to achieve learning objectives in high-quality online environments. For access to some of our materials, please find resources grouped according to audience and topic below.

Faculty Resources

Virtual Learning at the Elliott School

Please visit this Virtual Learning web page for more information regarding the Continuity of Teaching plan and updates for the fall semester.

In this section, you will find links to helpful videos and readings to help with designing your course and your syllabus for online learning. When designing your course for online instruction, you may want to evaluate the learning objectives for your course, and how these might change for online instruction. 

Key topics in this section include: Backwards Design Theory, Bloom’s Taxonomy, learning objectives, and global instruction.

Course Design Theory

In Backwards Design Theory, the key concept is to first think of the goals you want each of your students to achieve by the end of the semester, and then match readings and assignments to those goals directly. You’ll find that students will achieve greater learning outcomes when course materials are viewed within the lens of a “purposive goal.”

Relevant Readings

Helpful Guides

The University Teaching and Learning Center

The Teaching and Learning Center provides several online resources for writing course objectives, designing courses, and developing teaching strategies.

ESIA Syllabus and Online Templates

We've created a syllabus template to guide your syllabus development. We have also created an enhanced online Blackboard shell that includes widgets for both faculty and student support, and recommended formatting for course organization. Please email [email protected] to request the zip file for the Blackboard template to upload into your course. You may also find it in our Online Pedagogy Workshop page.

Incorporating International Students

When designing your course for the fall, It’s important to consider where your students will be taking their courses. Are you teaching international students? We included a helpful guide for teaching GW international students which provides tips on how to incorporate global diversity into your classroom. This guide is provided by the English for Academic Purposes Office. 

Getting Started: Basic Classroom Technology

It is recommended to build out your live-sync sessions before the start of the semester, and test it out with family, friends, or colleagues. Here's how to get started:

Blackboard Collaborate

  1. Enter your Blackboard course, click "Tools" in the left-hand menu, then select Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.
  2. In the new screen, click "Create Session."
  3. Input details for the test session you will conduct in the provided fields, and be sure to select the box for "Guest Access." Select "participant" for the guest role if you want your friend or family member's access to reflect the default student setting; select "presenter" or "moderator" if you would like to test these options (e.g., if you plan to invite a guest speaker to your class).
  4. Finally, click "Create" in the bottom right-hand corner. You will now be able to copy the address under "guest link" and email/share this with your friend or family member. 


  1. To begin using your Webex account, login to with your GW email address ([email protected]) and corresponding password.
  2. At the top of the homescreen, you will see a "Personal Room" link that you can email/share with your friend or family member. This is the same link you can use to access your personal room, and that you will share with students who are looking to meet with you for office hours.
  3. You can also click “Schedule a Meeting” to schedule times to meet in advance.  Webex will send you an email link, which you can share with others.

How to Videos

The ESIA Online team recorded several technical workshops to provide technical assistance to faculty that are available upon request: [email protected].

Additional Resources

  • ESIA Online Pedagogy Workshops: Please be sure to check out the Faculty Pedagogy Community on your Blackboard site for workshops related to moving in person instruction online. 
  • The Columbian College of Arts & Sciences offers faculty workshops on several topics related to remote instruction. View a list of upcoming workshops 
  • GW Office of Marketing & Creative Services offers training every month on a range of topics. Topics for the month of August include: Digital Accessibility, GW Blogs, and creating short links using GW’s tool. Register for an upcoming course

In this section, you will find readings, videos, and helpful guides for encouraging student engagement and incorporating elements into your course that facilitate collaboration. 

This section will address the following questions:

  • How do you create an online course that mirrors a face-to-face course in its ability to facilitate discussion, student interaction, and collaboration? 

  • How do you build a sense of community when students and professors are engaging in the course from different parts of the globe?  

Relevant Readings

Tips and Ideas for Promoting Student Collaboration

Community Building

  • Encourage students to reach out to one another and share phone numbers. Students can see each other’s names and emails on Blackboard. Peer support is invaluable in higher ed and classmates become part of their network of experts when they graduate! 
  • Encourage students to participate in a semester-long challenge. For example, have your students pledge to walk a certain amount of miles for a good cause, be pen pals and exchange letters with people in nursing homes or orphanages, etc.  Have students suggest organizations and vote on which one to collectively support.
  • Encourage students to exhibit GW pride by wearing GW gear, writing with GW pens and notepads, drinking out of GW mugs and water bottles during class.  Professors can also participate in these spirit-building activities!

Utilize Discussion Boards in Blackboard

  • For a more institutionalized approach to community building, assign students to respond to weekly discussion prompts on Blackboard. Require that students respond to the prompt as well as comment on the responses of two (or more) peers discussion replies. Discussion prompts could include thoughtful questions on class material, or links to current news articles that reflect class topics in practice.

Utilize the Breakout Session Function in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

  • During your live synchronous discussion, you can facilitate breakout sessions and build community among students groups by grouping them with the same peers for every session, or have them randomized each time so students connect with others in smaller settings.

Class Notes

  • Encourage students to start a shared Google doc or spreadsheet where they can write notes and contribute collectively. At the end of the semester, you can track and grade contributions so that no one “free-rides” on the notes of the group. Or you, you can leave it as an ungraded resource for students. 

Group Projects

  • For group projects, you can facilitate groups by asking students to fill out a Google sheet that asks a series of questions (what are their top 3 areas of interest, the class topics which are the top 3 they'd be interested in working with given their areas of interest). Then group students based on their responses.

University Teaching & Learning Center Resources

The University Teaching and Learning Center offers helpful guides for choosing the right tools based on the type of interaction and outcome you need. These guides help you decide which tool is right: discussion board, synchronous sessions, or group projects.

Helpful Videos

Tips for an Engaging Synchronous Session

  • Have students turn on their video cameras
  • Use the Raise Hand function in Blackboard to avoid any confusion or talking over each other. 
  • Encourage students to use the chat function to ask questions and make comments about lecture/discussion content. 
  • Use Breakout sessions in Blackboard Collaborate so that students can discuss ideas and brainstorm before coming together as a class. 
  • Use the polling option in Blackboard Collaborate to ask questions and gauge learning throughout the session.

For further reading on synchronous interaction please visit the University Teaching and Learning website

Organizing Your Course Facilitates Student Engagement

Keeping your course organized in Blackboard will help students find discussion boards and keep track of course materials including assignments, assessments, where to go for live synch sessions, and how to access course materials. Effective syllabus and course design help keep students informed of course expectations so that they can engage with course materials effectively. The ESIA Online Team developed a syllabus template and course templates for faculty to import into their Blackboard courses. If you would like to request the Blackboard course shell, please email [email protected].

This section addresses the following objectives: 

  • Multimedia and modality principles including: Coherence principle, signaling principle, Redundancy principle, Spatial contiguity, and Temporal contiguity. 
  • Identifying ways to incorporate multimedia in an online learning environment.
  • Comparing and contrasting methods and tools to engage students through multimodal learning environments. 

Relevant Readings


Mini-lectures that you create are a great way to personalize your course and update content. They can be done as video or as audio. Video, of course, lets students see you and what you're talking about, from charts and graphs to photos and movies of people, places, and things. But, don't rule out audio. If you don't need the graphics to illustrate your content, an audio podcast is easy to make and edit and gives students something they can easily listen to on their mobile device.

This brief video from GW's Health Sciences IMPACT Initiative team focuses on tips for producing a strong presentation that promotes learning from video, but the same planning process applies to audio recordings.

Teaching with Technology Matrix

Use this Teaching with Technology Matrix provided by LAI to quickly match the most common teaching functions (what you want to in your class) with the appropriate online tool.

Tools for Creating Videos

There are so many easy-to-use tools available for creating your own short videos. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Two other ways to get help are searching online for tutorials and visiting GW's Instructional Technology Lab for one-on-one instruction.

Echo360 and Narrated Powerpoint Presentations are the two recommended methods for recording in class lecture videos. 

To Create a Narrated Powerpoint with video:

  1. Go to PowerPoint > File > Export > Create a Video > Record Timings and Narrations
  2. After you are done recording, PowerPoint will let you export the whole thing to a video. You can do multiple takes per slide as well. 

To Use Echo360 (recommended method for Welcome Videos):

  1. Go to Blackboard and go to the content area where you want the video to be. 
  2. Click on Tools at the top and go to GWU Lecture Capture. Name the lecture and click Submit.
  3. Now go to the File you just named > (If you don't have Echo 360 it will ask you to download it). Once you have the file, you'll see a button at the top that says "Create". Click Launch and it will upload the screen. If you want it to just be you talking, then you will be the only "input," but you can also have slides or a document next to it as the second input.

Additional guides and instructions for creating recorded lectures: 

  • Create Narrated PowerPoint Presentations (Windows | Mac)
  • Optimize Narrated PowerPoint Presentations for Web Delivery using PowerPoint (Windows | Mac)
  • Optimize Narrated PowerPoint Presentations for Web Delivery using iSpring (iSpring Example) - Software available in the Instructional Technology Lab
  • Create Screen Recordings (Windows 10 | Mac)

Create Do It Yourself Videos:

  • Make a Webcam Video (Windows | Mac)
  • Upload a Video to YouTube and Embed it in Blackboard (PDF | Video)
  • Caption your Video using YouTube (Video)

Create Lectures with Personal Capture:

ESIA Online Expert Media Inventory

You can access over 200 studio-produced expert videos that feature ESIA faculty and invited practitioners to add to your course.  Please reach out to [email protected] for a list of topics and video links.

Open Source: Free Online Videos from Harvard

With many colleges holding their fall classes online, professors at other institutions are making their course materials shareable with their colleagues.  For example, professors at Harvard university and Duke university have allowed us to use their free video lecture content in our classes.  Check with other professors in your network to see if others have also created sharable content that you can use in your classes.

If you find a good resource worth sharing, please pass it along to [email protected] and we will make it accessible in our Pedagogy Workshop page on Blackboard.

This section will address the following topics:

  • Evaluating assignments and assessments relative to their learning objectives

  • Using assignments and assessments as learning tools

  • Designing and crafting assessments in Blackboard

Relevant Readings

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) 

Classroom assessment techniques (CATS) help individual teachers obtain useful feedback on what, how much, and how well their students are learning. They can be used as stand-alone activities or alongside larger activities to help refocus your teaching in process.

The GW Library's  Instructional Core website provides tips and resources for implementing CATs in the classroom. 


In general, we recommend considering the goals and objectives you have in mind for your course, and weigh some of the "standard" assignment and assessment practices against those goals. For example, in introductory or foundational learning courses could students do rewrites of papers based on useful feedback?  What benefit would a take-home exam have to a time-restricted one?  Do your course policies reflect the course objectives (for example, if professionalism is an important soft skill you’d like your students to build during the course, try instituting strict late policies on papers or assignments, etc).

ESIA Online on-call hours: Tuesdays from 4:00 -6:00 pm, and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact [email protected] to make an appointment.

Gelman Library Resources

GW Libraries and Academic Innovation provides a range of resources and support for online teaching and learning, including helping faculty identify high quality digital course materials  Most departments have a dedicated concierge team ready to help with digital course materials and more.  Faculty can find their concierge teams on the GW Libraries website, and if their department is not listed or if a faculty member has been, or is already working with, a specific librarian, they may contact that individual for assistance with course materials or make an appointment with the research consultation team

The Library's Instructional Core has many resources for the virtual learning period. Specifically, you can  access their virtual workshops on various topics, OR  schedule technology consultations with them.

Instructional Technology Lab

Hours:  Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Phone: (202) 994-0485

Email:  [email protected]

Student Resources

Here you will find resources to help you adjust to the new virtual learning period. For a list of frequently asked questions relating to the student virtual learning period, visit the Elliott School Fall 2020 Student FAQs page.

Contact Information for GW Offices

Any student who may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) to inquire about the documentation necessary to establish eligibility, and to coordinate a plan of reasonable and appropriate accommodations. DSS is located in Rome Hall, Suite 102. For additional information, please call DSS at 202-994-8250, or consult visit the DSS website.

Consult GW's Office of the Registrar for questions about registration, transcripts, academic calendar, and more. They can be reached at [email protected] or (202) 994-4900.

Enrollment and the Student Experience offers other various student support services that may interest you. These range from military and veteran services to housing to career services. They also can be reached on (202) 994-6710 or [email protected].

Students can utilize a variety of resources and services for off-campus students.  View more options for making a consultation appointment and for evening and weekend assistance at the GW Libraries Ask Us page.

Introduction to GW Libraries

In order to support your research efforts, we have compiled a list of resources below. Please review these resources as part of this orientation, but also remember to come back to them throughout the semester as you need.



Digital Fluency and GW Resources

All learners must make well-informed decisions about digital resources and use them responsibly in order to locate, curate, and present information appropriately. Find out how resources at GW can support you as a proficient user of digital resources:


Learners in an online course should be able to: GW resources to consult:
Search online libraries and databases to locate and gather relevant scholarly information for academic work

Access video tutorials and other information that can answer student research questions on applying better library search techniques and using specific library services

Search GW library databases for information to support your research. You can:

Critically evaluate and determine the credibility of information sources found online. Consult guidelines from the GW Library for tips on how to critically evaluate sources.
Use various computer networks efficiently to locate and store individual or shared files for a course Learn about supported backup and storage options from GW Information Technology.
Use Web-based search engines to locate academic resources using appropriate criteria, keywords, and filters

Learn more about library services for off-campus students

 Visit the GW Libraries' Ask Us Desk. You can call, IM, email, or make a research consultation appointment (available by phone, web, conferencing, or in-person).

Prepare a presentation of research findings using an individual software program and/or collaborative tools Current, active GW community members can avail themselves of GW's subscription to's self-help video training covers a wide variety of topics.
Protect user profiles and accounts (e.g., email username and password) by learning about proper security and privacy guidelines and good practices GW Information Technology is the university's central technology support unit. They are available on [email protected] or (202) 994 4948. Learn more about information security on their training page (see IT Security Awareness Sessions).

Exercise full academic integrity when utilizing digital resources. This includes:

  • Producing and turning in one’s own work
  • Properly citing all information sources (e.g., APA, Chicago styles)

Consult this practical Research Guide about Plagiarism: What it is and how to avoid it.

Sign up for RefWorks, a citation software tool that helps save and organize citations and create bibliographies in any citation style.

Receive information about emergency preparedness and response from Campus Advisories at GW as well as updates regarding the University's operating status. Check the website provided for helpful updates or call (202) 994-5050.

Flex-Start Program

Starting Fall 2020, GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) will be offering all admitted graduate degree students across all MA, MIS and MIPP programs the ability to start their degree online through the Flex-Start program. The Flex-Start program is ideal for admitted students who were admitted to an in-person program and will now be taking courses online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who participate in the Flex-Start program will be able to take a regular full-time or part-time course-load online during the Fall 2020 semester and then continue their studies in-person in Washington, DC starting in the Spring 2021 semester (provided the public health situation permits, they complete their Fall 2020 courses in good academic standing, and in the case of international students, they receive a valid F-1 visa prior to the start of the spring semester).

These Flex courses are built on the high-quality tradition founded by our fully online graduate program for mid-career-level professionals, the Master of International Policy and Practice.  Students in this program value their online learning experience, rating its quality as equivalent to that of our face-to-face courses, and often even more highly.

Learn more about the Flex-Start Program

Advice from fellow students in the online environment

Elizabeth Beauchamp

Elizabeth Beauchamp

M.A. Candidate, Global Communication

"My best advice for taking online classes is to figure out what time of day you learn best and stick to your routine. I’m a morning person, so I tend to get all reading, studying, and writing done in the morning. But if you’re a night owl, try to figure out an evening routine that makes sense for how you learn. Finding this rhythm early in the semester will help when it becomes much more difficult to manage your time later in the semester."

Ryan Salzman

Ryan Salzman

M.A. Candidate, Security Policy Studies

"Speak up! In an online format it can be a bit more daunting to participate, but you'd be surprised by the door you'll open for your other classmates who are waiting for someone to talk first. It's also important to still treat it as an in-person course in the way that you study, stay organized, and approach the class. When you're actually in class, make sure to find a quiet place without distractions, and make this location part of your routine. For me, keeping as much of a routine while learning online is very helpful."