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CTS Library

Resources and Training

Virtual Presence

Virtual presence is extremely important, especially in an online environment where the feeling of isolation can make a student feel lost or alone. Like on-campus instructors, online instructors need to make sure their presence is known, and their guidance is spot on. 

On this page, you'll better understand how to establish online presence in the following ways:

  • through the Bulletin Board
  • by participating in discussion forums
  • through videos
  • when giving assignment feedback

Types of Online Presence 

​There are various ways to establish presence in an online course.  Here are the various ways we suggest:

  • Bulletin Board – We suggest posting on Monday to talk about the upcoming topics for the week. Posting when the grading is done for the previous week is also beneficial as it prompts students to check their grades and feedback from the instructor.  Instructors can post links to videos or upload relevant images to humanize messages.  Be aware that messages from the Bulletin Board are also sent to students' emails. Sending too many messages through this area may overwhelm students, so craft well thought-out messages. 
  • Course Discussion Forums – In an on-campus course, it is expected that the students to carry the discussion but the instructor may chime in when needed.  For example, if students get off topic, give misinformation, or are not diving deep into the content, the instructor help funnel the direction of the conversation. Finding that balance between posting too much vs not posting enough can be tricky.  Many instructors are active the first few weeks to model how students should engage in the discussion, but if the instructor reduces involvement, they should notify students of the plan. This will help students from feeling like the instructor disappeared. Remember that judging the right frequency of postings is as important as the quality of the posts.  Posts should challenge students to dive deeper in the content and construct new knowledge.
  • Videos- Videos are a great way to humanize a course and create a connection between students and instructor.  Videos can be used to give a weekly intro, deliver a course lecture, liven up a discussion forum, or give assignment feedback.  Creating videos can be time-consuming and something you may want to take on the second time you teach a course. To learn about different ways to create videos, contact the Education Technology Specialist.  
  • Assignment Grades and Feedback - Posting grades within one week after the due date is best practices for online courses.  Sometimes this is unrealistic when large papers are turned in.  In this case, please let the students know when their grades will be posted for that assignment.  Giving feedback is also important.  Instructors can give feedback in the assignment submission area, within the assignment/paper, or in the electronic rubric. Again, the quality of the feedback is just as important as giving feedback

5 Tips for Dynamic Zoom Classes

  1. Breakout Rooms
    • Divide into smaller groups for discussion on a certain topic
    • You can either pre-assign or auto-assign students into groups for a short period of time so they can discuss things together
    • As the instructor, you can bounce between groups
  2. Polls
    • The polling feature allows you to create single or multiple-choice polling questions
    • Launch the poll during your session and gather responses from your attendees
    • Download a report of the polling after the meeting
    • Can be conducted anonymously or with participant information
  3. Whiteboard
    • Multiple participants can share and contribute to a Whiteboard
    • Whiteboards can be used in Breakout Rooms
    • When someone is writing or drawing on the whiteboard, everyone's eyes are there too; keeping people focused and attentive may be more important when we're online and distracted by other things
    • Drawing or writing on a whiteboard stimulates creativity which helps to solve problems and brings overall positivity to the class
  4. Non-Verbal Feedback or Chat
    • Take time to promote questions, comments, and reactions from your class
    • Encourage students to use non-verbal feedback such as indicators in the participant panel to provide feedback such as speed up/slow down, thumbs up/down, hand raise, coffee cup, simple yes/no answers
    • Chat is also a form of non-verbal feedback, where students can ask questions, comment on the presentation or express their ideas
    • Ask students to write questions in the chat and pause at regular intervals to answer
  5. Share Screen
    • ​​​​​​​Share a PowerPoint or video to make sessions visually engaging while delivering a lecture
    • You can also have students share from time to time to present or "teach" 

Getting Started with VoiceThread

Logging in

  • Login through the CTS Portal
  • Or go to VoiceThread directly
  • In the upper right corner, click “Sign In”
    • Username: The first half of your CTS email before the @
    • Password: your regular CTS password

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  • If this is the first time you’ve logged in to VT, you may see a blank Home screen:

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  • Once you have created some VT presentations or some have been shared with you, your Home screen will start to look like this:

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Mobile Apps

  • VT has apps to view and comment on VoiceThreads on your mobile device


  • At any point if you need help, click on the  button at the lower right of the Home screen
  • You can also find full documentation and help articles here
  • Most questions can be answered under the Web Application or Mobile App support categories

Process for Assessing Signature Assignments with Accreditation Rubrics:

In your Populi Course:

  1. Go to Assignments
  2. Click on the Appropriate Assignment you want to assess (i.e. MDiv Signature Assignment Rubric)

  1. Now you are ready to Enter Grades – click on the “Enter Grades” button

  1. You will then see the Rubric Icon appear next to each students’ name

  1. In order to check each student’ Degree, to make sure you need to complete this Rubric for the student, hover your cursor over their picture – you will see their Degree and know if you need to complete the Rubric or not.  Look at the example below:
  • Foghorn Leghorn – you can see his Degree is Master of Divinity, so you will complete the MDiv Rubric for him:

6.   Once you confirm the student needs the given Rubric,

    1. Click on the Rubric Icon to complete the Rubric for each student
    2. Complete the Rubric
  1. c.   Press “Save Rubric Scores” at the bottom of the Rubric
  2. 7.  Press “Save Grades” when you are done with your session to record the Rubric “grades”

Populi Resources


Populi Resources

Christian Theological Seminary uses Populi as their learning management system (LMS).  Populi meets administration needs and houses course content for classes.  Populi can be a powerful tool if utilized to its full extent.  In order to accomplish this, use the resources below to become a Populi Pro!

By clicking on the tabs above, you have access to tutorials that address:

  • How to navigate Populi
  • Populi Basics
    • Changing your profile picture
  • Populi File Management
    • Uploading documents
    • Downloading documents
  • Specific tutorials on the following Populi tabs
    • Syllabus
    • Assignments
    • Discussions
    • Conferences
    • Tests
    • Attendance
    • Setting
    • Help

Navigating Populi

Populi (pronounced POP-yoo-lee) is our learning management system (LMS), which is where you’ll access and manage your courses.  Every LMS is slightly different, so learning your way around may take some time.  The information on this page will show you how to log into Populi and navigate through the main tabs of the system.

Log into Populi from the CTS Portal.

To find your courses, click on:  My Courses

You should then see the list of any courses you are assigned to as Faculty.


Changing your profile picture

Having a profile picture on your Populi Profile is important, especially when courses are online.  Your picture enhances the student experience in the course and can increase engagement and the relationship between faculty and students.

  1. Click on My Profile at the top of the page

  1. Hover over the photo and you see the edit button appear at the bottom of the photo space:


  1. The Edit Photo box appears and you can drag and drop, choose, or take a photo with a webcam and save:

  1. Your profile picture will now appear on any course you are designated as Faculty on the Syllabus tab under Faculty as well as on your Profile:



Uploading files in Populi

  • Go to the Course under My Courses that you want to add a file to
  • Click on Files on the left navigation bar

  • You can choose to add a New Folder or Add Files

New Folder

  • Add a New Folder creates an element of organization and navigation for the documents you want to upload:
    • Click on New Folder > Add a Name > Click Save


  • You will then see the New folder in your Files Tab

  • To add Files to that new folder, click on the title of the folder and you now have three options, Rename Folder, New Folder, Add Files:

Add Files

  • You can either Add Files to your Course or to a Folder.  The process is the same
  • Click on Add Files either from the Files Tab or the Folder


  • Either Drag and Drop your files or Choose and press Done (you can also import your files from another Populi course by clicking on the blue “import files”

  • If you Add Files to a folder, you will see it in the folder

  • If you Add Files to the Files tab, you will see it in your File list

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