Remote Teaching

Remote Teaching

Pedagogical Recommendations for Remote Teaching

Teaching Options ~ General TipsCommunication ~ Class Meetings ~ Office Hours ~ Assignment Management ~ Assignment Ideas ~ Discussion Management ~ Discussion Ideas ~ Lectures & Materials ~ Feedback & Assessment

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Options for Facilitating Classes Remotely

  • Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
  • Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options. 

Advantages of Synchronous Teaching

  • Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
  • More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding

Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching

  • More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors
  • Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible 

Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  • Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible.  
  • Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material. 

Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  • Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors. 
  • Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without the real-time interaction.

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General Tips 

  • Advice for the new online learner & instructor from the students and faculty of Rowan College of Education's Department of Educational Services & Leadership
  • Contact your textbook publishing company to see what they have available. Many are offering free content.
  • Focus on what you want your student outcomes to be
  • Keep things accessible & mobile friendly
    • In a crisis, many students may only have a mobile device available, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats including PDFs
  • Students need to feel connected.
    • Research shows that students who feel isolated do not do as well. 
    • They need to feel you are there for them
    • Pair students up to work together
    • Encourage them to form study groups
    • Address the emotional toll
    • Remember students are not always the "digital natives" we think they should be
    • Survey them to see what tools would work best for them
    • Share phone numbers - a voice is more friendly than email or texting
    • If using Canvas or Blackboard, use the notification feature
  • Establish daily schedules for you and your students, but be flexible
  • Make work due by 11:59 pm on the due date
  • Choose the tools and stick to them
    • Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage.
  • Use a tally sheet to keep track of students, so no one falls through the cracks
  • Use audio/video whenever possible
  • All written information should be clear and concise
  • Design robust and relevant assignments
    • Explain why they are doing the assignment
  • Making text available for printing out
  • Consider the energy it will take to grade papers or use a screen for a long time.
    • If necessary, adjust assignments to prevent fatigue.
  • Do not penalize students for spelling or grammatical mistakes.
    • The extra cognitive load of so much typing (or text production via voice transcription technology) may make things difficult for them.
  • If your Internet connection is slow or lagging
    • Consider temporarily turning off your video stream and only maintaining the audio stream. Sometimes, running the web camera on your computer will use up the Internet’s bandwidth in a way that might make communication challenging.
    • Turning off the video should improve communication quality and consistency. 
  • If you have earbuds or a headphone set, wear them
    • Wearing earbuds or headphones will reduce the amount of noise that your computer will pick up, which will make it easier for your students to hear you.
    • Advise your students to wear earbuds or headphones during the call for the same reason. 
  • Advise students to mute their microphones if they are not speaking and unmute the microphones when they wish to speak.
    • Students may be joining WebEx calls from all kinds of different locations, many of which may create background noise that could be distracting.
    • Encourage students to mute themselves if they’re not speaking to minimize unnecessary or distracting background noise.
    • As the meeting host you can mute all participants.
    • Using the “raise hand” feature or simply seeing the microphone unmuted will give the group a visual cue for when a student wishes to speak. 
  • Build in elements of pleasure and connection to counteract social isolation.
    • Begin class by asking how everyone is doing.
    • Encourage them to check in on each other.
  • 5 Tips to Boost Social Presence in an Online Class 
  • 8 Things Learned from Online Teaching 

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  • Communicate early and often
  • Let students know how you will communicate with them
  • Let them know how often you expect them to check email or Blackboard
  • Let them know how soon you will respond to their email and how soon you expect them to reply to your email
  • Address students by name, so they do not feel isolated
  • If addressing the whole class, let them know you are referring to the whole class and what class it is
  • Use brief, but descriptive subject titles for email
  • Post emails to class as announcements also
  • Create an information page or FAQ page or discussion board, then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you
  • Make sure students know when new material is posted
  • Encourage students to ask questions
  • If using Canvas or Blackboard, use the notification feature

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Class Meetings

  • Let students know if class will be synchronous or asynchronous.
  • What do you expect students to be doing during scheduled class times
  • Establish a method for "attendance"
  • Establish rules for participation - ask questions in chat window, use "raise hand" icon if available, etc.
  • Check the “chat” space for student questions and contributions.
    • Some students may not have working microphones and, therefore, may be unable to contribute via voice.
    • The chat room is a good place for students to contribute, ask questions, and be involved.
  • Use slides and screen sharing when possible
  • Rethink your classroom activities, especially for students who have poor connections
  • Have students write and comment together on a shared Google Doc. 
  • Try using Poll Everywhere or Google Forms to collect student responses, and then share results with both in-person and online students.
  • Consider making discussion questions or slides available in advance

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Office Hours

  • Inform students what method will you use for these and when you will be available
  • Setup time request form using Google Forms for individual appointments
  • Remember phone calls are a great option

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Assignment Management

  • Avoid email for assignment collection
    • It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Consider using Google Shared Drives or Blackboard Assignments instead. Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage.
  • State expectations, but be ready to allow extensions
    • In the case of a campus closure or other crisis, some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear, but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
  • Require specific filenames
    • It may sound trivial, but anyone who collects papers electronically knows the pain of getting 20 files named Essay1.docx. Give your students a simple file naming convention, for example, FirstnameLastname-Essay1.docx.

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Assignment Ideas

  • Create an assignment that requires students to create a PowerPoint or Google Slides.
  • Have student groups use Google Docs or Slides to work together. Use the History Feature to track what students are contributing and how much.
  • Have students develop study questions with a separate answer page using Google Docs or Microsoft Word. These can be shared with study partners or groups.
  • Have students use Google Forms to create a quiz to share with group members.
  • Ask students to record video comments (using Blackboard Collaborate) on a particular topic and to respond to one another’s videos.
  • Create collaborative groups in Blackboard and assign different questions. Each group could come to a consensus, or work together to summarize their comments, and then share a single document with the entire class.
  • Share a subject content link (in syllabus, Blackboard, text message, etc.). Ask students to write a response tying information to course content and personal experience.
  • Have students post a response to discussion prompts and respond to another student’s paper in Blackboard or Google Docs.
  • Peer Reviews
    • Write out clear and specific instructions about the expectations for peer review. This means specifying the qualities of writing that students may want to look for in each other’s work.
    • Distributing guiding questions or a worksheet that students can fill out as they review their peer’s work can be a valuable supplement to guide students’ virtual reading. 
    • Provide a rubric students can work from
    • Ask students to include questions for their peer reviewers at the top of their document so that their reviewers can have a sense of what the author would like them to focus on.
    • Include links to technical documentation and support so that students can troubleshoot if they are not able to access peers’ documents. 
  • Online Instructional Activities Index

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Discussion Management

  • To remove technical hurdles and to ensure that students are able to engage with peers and each other in a discussion-based class (even without a strong Internet connection), you might choose to move student discussion to an asynchronous format.
  • Create a discussion in Blackboard as a forum to facilitate communication, encourage students to interact, ask questions and respond to discussion prompts.
  • Make small groups (6-10) for better discussions
  • Blackboard
  • Canvas
  • Build in simple accountability:
    • You can ask them to report back in a shared document or on a discussion board.
    • Discussions do not have to happen in real-time during class times. They could be due at the end of the week.
    • Consider giving students credit for discussion if they turn in lecture notes or critical discussion questions.
  • Establish rules and time frames for posting
  • Craft discussion questions to be as clear and as specific as possible so that students can build off of the question for a sustained response. 
  • Acknowledge good responses publicly
  • Encourage students to ask questions of each other
  • Participate in the discussion, but don't over take it. 
  • Ask questions to promote critical thinking
  • 10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions
  • How to Write a Strong Discussion Post

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Discussion Ideas

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Lectures & Materials

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Feedback & Assessment

  • Final Assessment Alternatives
  • Take-home quizzes or exams
    • Need to be open book
    • Use Blackboard to offer exam online
    • Distribute Exam PDF electronically and ask students to scan with their phones: You can distribute a PDF of your exam via Blackboard at an appointed time for printing using Files or Assignments. Students can work on it in the privacy of their room and scan it to a multi-page PDF using an app like GeniusScan, then upload it either to Blackboard Assignments
    • Create a Google Form as a formative assessment tool
  • Classroom Assessment Techniques 
  • Consider replacing an exam with a project or a paper
  • Comment on student work
    • Track changes – Microsoft Word has a commenting feature and a feature called “Track Changes” that allow you to enter comments into assignments that have been submitted in Microsoft Word. 
    • Use Comments in Google
  • Address student by name in at least one comment
  • Give both positive & constructive feedback in an encouraging tone
  • "Great job", "Well done", "Excellent", etc. are not enough. Let them know what was well done.

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Revised 3/13/2020

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