Remote learning occurs when teachers and learners are separated by geographic distance and time zones. Synchronous and asynchronous digital tools (like Canvas, Zoom, and Panopto) are used to provide instruction remotely. While “online learning” and “remote learning” are often used interchangeably, we are using “remote learning” to indicate that these are learning experiences that were not designed to be online from the outset, but rather pushed into using online/digital tools to continue to reach students who are separated geographically from campus/faculty.

In times of unplanned disruption, the move to remote teaching is a stop-gap measure to make sure that learning continues during the disruption. These tips can help to make it a meaningful learning experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out to DLINQ if you have questions or would like help with next steps.

Questions to Consider

These questions provide a starting place for identifying your next steps in preparing your class for remote teaching. (Click the + to expand each section below.)

  • What types of activities do you typically use in class? (presenting content, discussions, student presentations, project work, etc.)
  • How will you give feedback to students on their progress?
    • To comply with FERPA, you should not send student grade information over email. Consider using Canvas and the Canvas gradebook to provide grades and feedback.
  • Do you have any high-stakes assessments planned?
    • Proctored, in-person tests will be a challenge to replicate. Consider whether you can replace such assessments with other types of assignments.
  • Is time zone difference in play for any of your students, especially when they leave campus?
    • If yes, consider that it might be difficult to find a time to get everyone talking together on Zoom. You may need to use more asynchronous learning activities, such as discussion boards.
  • Will your students have consistent Internet access?
    • It’s likely that not all of your students will have access to high-speed internet at home. This impacts their ability to stream videos, participate in Zoom sessions, access simulations, and download large files, among other things.

General Tips

  1. Be patient and flexible, with yourself and with your students. Many will be in new territory here (including your students, many of whom have never experienced remote learning. Remote learning requires a learned set of skills, much the same way that remote teaching does). It’s not going to be perfect; it’s not going to be exactly what you would have done in your regular class. Give yourself and your students permission for that to be ok.
  2. Set clear expectations and be transparent about your expectations. What will you and your students accomplish together during your online courses? What’s expected of them? What can they expect of you?
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Again, this is a two way street. Encourage your students to communicate with you (and let them know what the preferred ways are for them to do that. Email? Cell phone? Discussion board? Zoom? All of the above?), and communicate frequently with them. Frequent communication is the best way to maintain connection.

Additional Resources

Want to take a deeper dive into the specifics of remote teaching? Many seasoned online educators are compiling large resource documents with additional suggestions, and you can find lots of excellent info in the following documents and websites.

Online Teaching course from iDesign – offered for FREE for now – “Designed for educators who are interested in a basic introduction to online teaching, this competency-based learning pathway covers the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to support your learners with care, empathy, and compassion. The experience will introduce you to both the theoretical and practical aspects of teaching online. Complete the competencies, and you’ll learn about the myths of online learning, the community of inquiry (CoI) model, and how to leverage your teaching, cognitive, and social presence to engage online students.”

Association of College and University Educator’s Online Teaching Toolkit – topics include Welcoming students to the online environment, Managing your online presence, Organizing your online course, Planning and facilitating quality discussions, Recording effective microlectures, Engaging students in readings and microlectures

Online Learning in a Hurry – a project of the University of Windsor (Canada), this site features a collection of video conversations with online learning experts on a variety of topics

Teaching Effectively in Times of Disruption – comprehensive guide from Stanford University, including ideas for student activities

Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start – by Michelle Miller in the Chronicle of Higher Ed

An Emergency Guide (of sorts) to Getting This Week’s Class Online in About an Hour or So – Dr. Matt Crosslin

Crowdsourcing Teaching Online with Care – Google Doc started by Dr. Maha Bali and Dr. Mia Zamora