General Principles of Remote Teaching
The general principles from the Remote Teaching Guide found here are a good starting point for adapting courses. Also helpful are the Twenty questions about remote teaching found in Appendix 1 at the end of this document. But May/Summer offerings are more compact and intense than typical Semester offerings. In a remote environment, they require the following considerations:
1. Choose your timing: Due to the compressed nature of a summer session, we recommended you consider a blended option of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Consider “chunking” synchronous sessions to 45-60 minute intervals with breaks for optimal learning environment for you or your students. Factor in student concerns about time-zone and equipment differences, and the technical limitations we’ve all experienced, and finding a good blend of synchronous activity and asynchronous activities may be a necessity.
2. Revisit learning goals: Course goals likely do not change in a summer offering, but the intensity of session may require adapting or resequencing certain goals to fit the format. Reminder: the faculty handbook recommends that all course syllabi contain your course learning goals/objectives.
3. Identify Expectations: Clearly articulate what you expect of students in the syllabus just as you would normally, but also clearly articulate how you expect students to interact with the remote learning systems and methods. Consider using rubrics for online discussions, assignments, and other key expectations, to keep expectations clear and students focused.
4. Adapt existing activities: Analogous approaches (1:1 swap of remote for in-person activities) aren’t always advisable: can a student’s eyes read in one day the same amount of material we typically assign over a full week? Some variety in daily tasks might be needed. See the guidelines about ‘Time to Task,’ below, to help think about alternatives and consider how to distribute tasks without overloading students.
5. Identify resources: Review your required resources ASAP including: readings, software, and personal equipment and clarify if students will have remote access to them. If a resource isn’t easily obtainable, consider a substitute or workaround. Consider pairing this pre-course activity with a quick survey of registered students to get a sense of their background, current environment and expectations.
6. Put yourself in the student’s shoes: Consider the possible circumstances of each student (e.g., limited bandwidth, different time zones) and other similar considerations and how it might impact interaction with the course material. The burdens and obstacles a student face might be magnified in a time-compressed remote environment, and so require special consideration at each step of your planning and execution of teaching.
Time to Task
One of the most important considerations in a summer offering is Time to Task. The compressed schedule mandates knowing the total your learning activities demand to ensure your expectations(?) are realistic and obtainable. HWS academic standards require 45 hours of ‘work’ per semester hour (15 hours classroom and 30 hours of supplemental assignments). In a three week ‘Maymester’ course of twenty-one days for a four credit hour course, 170 hours of material need to be covered which which equates to approximately eight hours a day of material for 21 days. In order to meet the required hours of instruction to meet HWS policy, here are some values which you can use to meet those hours:
Discussion board composition
Discussion board posting
20 minutes per board
Reading peer discussion board posts
180 words per minute
Reading instructor feedback
10 minutes per graded assignment
Links to external website
20 minutes per external URL
Reading course materials
200 words per minute/180 words per minute on electronic material
1:1 time for Quiz, 60 minutes preparation time per quiz
1:1 time for examination, 4 hours of studying per hour of examination
120 minutes preparation time, 30 minutes per page of writing, 120 minutes of research per page of writing
Given a 1:1 equivalence of synchronous activity, the tradition breakdown of 15 hours classroom time per credit hour may be untenable in a remote environment – find the right mix of asynchronous activities to reach the necessary time equivalence.
In a regular semester, students build community through shared living spaces, in-person activities, and shared experiences. In a remote environment, much of the work of building and fostering community falls upon the faculty. Here are some suggestions for fostering community in a remote environment:
1. Start with a personal welcome, provide an opportunity for students to introduce themselves asynchrously; the ACUE has some great suggests for how you want to to get out of the starting gates differently for your online class: https://acue.org/online-teaching-toolkit
2. Consider providing a mini “orientation” to the online environment. Be open about how you organized the course for the remote environment and be prepared to explain particular decisions you made to build student understanding. Make the students partners in the instruction of the course by posting class outlines or lessons plans ahead of time; this makes synchronous time with students more productive.
3. Contact students regularly to remind them that you are available for them.
4. Be available – establish and keep office hours and ensure they are held during asynchronous times where students would normally be engaged with their assignments. Ensure students know your availability (both in terms of time and technology)
5. Be prepared to repeat or record some lectures which students may miss because of technology problems, or post a notes or a transcript.
6. Use helpful and optimistic language such as, ‘When you come back this fall…’ to help students look forward to coming back to campus.
7. Schedule yourself such that you can provide timely and meaningful feedback. Feedback becomes doubly important in a remote environment and given the compresed schedule, assignments need to be graded and questions answered rapidly to build trust with students. (Webconference 1-1 meetings sometimes are a faster route to feedback than written feedback.)
8. Be adaptable. The course you actually teach may look different than the course you had planned. Within reason, be responsive to student needs and circumstances and adjust learning objectives and assignments as required.
Appendix 1: Twenty Questions
Remote instruction requires preparation to teach effectively. This checklist will guide you through the most important points to continue teaching. Please consider the following points when attempting to migrate your instruction:
1. What are your learning goals?
2. What resources or activities (readings, videos, hands on activities) do you require to complete your instruction?
3. What are the diverse learning needs, including disabilities, that might be present in your classroom?
4. What are your expectations regarding instruction and communication?
5. How and when are you holding office hours? Can you access your work email and office voice mail from home? Is your voice mail set up?
6. What is your and the student’s comfort level with the technology platforms you plan on using? Do you or they require additional instruction?
7. Is your chosen communications medium appropriate and accessible to your class including those with disabilities?
8. Is your computer’s video, speakers, and microphone operational?
9. Do you know how to contact institutional technical support to support the instruction?
10. Do you have an alternative plan or flexibility to accommodate those students whose bandwidth or hardware is limited due to finances or geography?
11. What combinination of synchronous and asynchronous will you be using? For example, will you be teaching content synchronously through web conferencing or will you be teaching asynchronously through readings, discussion boards, and other similar methods? Be clear about the difference between synchronous and asynchronous activities and how they are directly connected to learning outcomes.
12. Is all course material you planned on using – primary and supplemental – posted and available for students?
13. How do you plan to provide accessible content to students with accommodations including disabilities?
14. What additional methods can help you facilitate classroom discussion remotely?
15. If you teach workshops, labs, or other experiential modes, do your activities have to be adapted to fit a remote format?
16. Do in-class exams make sense or does an alternate format like open-book exams or reflective essays make sense?
17. How much flexibility on due dates can you allow?
18. How will you evaluate student participation?
19. How will your grading change to accommodate the different circumstances?
20. Does your assessment plan have enough flexibility to accommodate those with diverse needs including disabilities?
Prioritize the “have to knows” from the “good to knows.” what information do your students really need from your course to be successful in their career years down the road? Assess your required Learning Outcomes and determine the essentials that must be taught in order for you to meet those objectives.
Now that you’ve decided the specific topics you will be covering in your summer course, it’s time to organize it in a logical flow that teaches your objectives in a scaffolded manner. In other words, make sure the prerequisite/foundational knowledge and skills are reviewed/taught early in the course, and then build upon these as you address your Learning Objectives. Extraneous information should be cut from your teachings. You may also want to consider relating much of what you teach to real-world situations. This will convey the importance of what you’re teaching and make it more memorable to the students at the same time.
How do you design your assignments for this short course now that you’ve figured out what you are teaching? Easy! Take what you’ve been doing for your 16-week course, shorten the assignments, and give them more frequently. Your students are already going to be studying, rewriting notes, practicing, and reading – you don’t want to give them homework assignments that take 2 – 3 hours on top of all of that. If you can, break the assignments into bite-sized chunks that take no more than 30 – 45 minutes to complete (or less), and give them a few assignments per week. These will be easier to digest for your students and will also help them retain the importance of the material. You may even offer more flexible due dates in this summer course than you would in your 16-weeks.
Consider using the discussion forums discussed in the How to Prepare for Online Teaching blog. These can be short but powerful assignments. If you’re having the students write papers for your course, consider shortening the length of the paper, or the number of papers they have to submit, and focus more on the content you’re having them address. Lastly, really give thought to group projects as well. Sometimes students learn more from each other than they do from us.
These 3-week classes are not only tough to plan out and teach, but they are a heavy lift for the students as they try to learn this material in a compressed time frame. Try offering an extra level of support for these students you don’t normally give your 16-week classes. If you are doing live virtual class sessions (or even pre-recorded videos), consider providing them with copies of the slides or the notes you use while teaching. Set up extra virtual office hours for them to pop in and ask you questions. Create practice quizzes or tests for them to use as study guides, or even provide them with a more detailed study guide than you usually hand out.
Information taken from Dr. Stephanie Tacquard, a Customer Success Manager for Pearson.
Upload My Syllabus – Students need quick access to the most important course information. A clear syllabus reduces the number of times students will contact you directly for information
Add daily/modules to course Breaking up your course into logical “chunks” by days or modules helps students navigate content and reduces their cognitive load, especially in an unknown, online environment
Link or upload files (resources and/or instructional materials) Students will need access to materials to support learning, such as handouts, PowerPoints, PDFs, library readings, links to multimedia resources, and more.
Conduct a live lecture or record a lecture Create your lectures using Zoom along with a personal webcam and microphone. These recordings can then be shared via links (URLs) or file sharing. During live lectures you can have the students in breakout rooms to discuss or work on assignments/problem solving in small groups.
Create an online discussion area for student participation These asynchronous, online forums allow for the whole class or small groups to communicate, share files, and hold dynamic discussions. They can be graded or non-graded and have a full array of feedback tools.
Create an online assignment Canvas allows student to submit assignments where a document or text entry is needed. They can be graded or non-graded and have a full array of feedback tools.
Create an online quiz quizzes can be used as reading checks. By assigning them a low value in allowing students to take it multiple times it is a form of practice and review. In contrast a summary exam tests your students to see what they know and don’t know with an online critical quiz or exam. However, managing cheating is challenging at a distance. Alternative are multiple forms of assessment are encouraged.
Provide assignment feedback and grades Feedback is critical for student learning, student retention and faculty presence! Online discussions, quizzes, assignments, and gradebooks let instructors enter feedback for both individual items and final grades.
Allow students to contact me Clearly identifying contact methods and contact times in your syllabus and in course announcements helps ease student stress and lets them easily find out how and when to contact you. In these compressed classes you are strongly encouraged to hold the virtual office hours via Zoom each day so students can ask questions to clarify assignments. The result of this communication is improve student learning and better outcomes.
Create a calendar Once you’ve created your 3 week class you can now develop a daily calendar (perhaps the Big Picture will be helpful. The calendar keeps your students on track by providing easy access to due dates.
Announcements While email is the most direct way to communicate with individual students, announcements are best used for whole class communication. By posting announcements, students see your message on Canvas. In the online environment, announcements let you communicate important, class-wide information and establish a sense of presence with your students. Use announcements to:
- welcome students to the online space
- communicate when and how students can expect to hear from you during the course
- post wellness checks for your students
- remind students about upcoming deadlines
- provide recaps, highlights, or summaries of material
- post resources such as files, assignments, and links to relevant materials, including your syllabus