As you’re preparing for another term of remote teaching, we’ve organized some of our best resources, tips, and ideas into this guide. These suggestions are informed by a range of online and digital teaching approaches as well as ideas faculty and students shared from their experiences in remote spring teaching and learning. Each section includes resources and a few suggestions on ways you might start planning or implementing new ideas for remote teaching.


Start with A Self Assessment

Remote teaching can require different skills and attitudes than are used in most traditional face-to-face courses. This list will help you take inventory of your own skills and attitudes related to some of the integral aspects of remote teaching.

I am prepared to:

  • Converse with others online through social media or other discussion forums.
  • Log in to D2L and use basic features such as Assignments, Discussions and the Gradebook.
  • Make short videos and share them with my students.
  • Use Zoom for meetings and class sessions.

I am prepared to:

  • Provide timely, constructive feedback to students about assignments and questions.
  • Be available to my students on a regular basis for questions and assistance.
  • Facilitate interactions among students.
  • Use a variety of teaching strategies to help my students learn
  • Try new teaching approaches.
  • Convey my personality and/or emotions through writing or in video.

I am prepared to:

  • Communicate my expectations about participation, behavior, and work quality to my students.
  • Regularly consult with individual students to correct misconceptions and keep them on task.
  • Create schedules for myself and stick to them.
  • Write clear instructions for students.

Planning Remote Courses

While you don’t need to start from scratch with your remote courses, you will likely want to revisit your overall course design and plan to meet the needs of remote teaching and learning. For example, will you be able to meet all of the same learning objectives or goals as you did in-person? Will your planned assessments work in a remote environment or will they benefit from adjustments? How will you know what your students are learning week by week without the cues you’re used to from your classroom? How will you use your scheduled class time? These are some of the most important questions you’ll want to ask yourself as you plan your remote courses.


“We are not teaching content — we are teaching students.”

Sylvia Kane on the Teaching in Higher Ed “Inclusive Pedagogy” podcast episode #241


Learning Activities

If you’ve never taught online before, you may not have considered the range of ways students can engage in learning in digital spaces. However, there are a wide range of learning activities that can engage students in their learning and demonstrate their progress. As you plan your remote courses, it may be helpful to consider a range of learning activities to foster student engagement and agency.

Assessment

Alternative assessments comprise a range of non-test based assessments. You can use alternative assessments to evaluate students’ content knowledge or skill development in a more holistic way than through traditional exams. Depending on the type of assessment, it may be useful to develop evaluation rubrics to accompany your assessment. Rubrics can help students understand the criteria for success, and help you standardize and streamline your assessment.

Put it into Practice: Rule of 2’s

Start working on your course plan. Use the rule of 2 planning document, or another modality that works for you (e.g sketch your plan on whiteboard/paper or use post-it notes).


Building Your Remote Course

We recommend using D2L as the digital “home” for your course because many students will be familiar with D2L and it’s mobile responsive and accessible as well. Within D2L, there are several ways you might organize your course materials. Broadly we recommend organizing your materials chronologically by weekly modules. As you organize your course, it can be helpful to use the D2L Content tool as the central location for your course — the area in your course from which students can navigate to all course materials, assignments, and activities.


“When we don’t have structure in place, certain people are disadvantaged.”

Viji Sathy on the Teaching in Higher Ed “Inclusified Teaching Evaluations” podcast episode #272


Pedagogical Flow

The pedagogical flow planner provided below is a helpful resource to plan your course organization outside of the LMS. Our instructional design team often uses this type of document when developing online courses because it makes clear all of the pieces that go into a well-organized course and can help you plan a consistent learning cycle for your students. In addition to providing the content and assignments, you will likely also want to develop a bit of text to frame and introduce each week.

Keep Accessibility in Mind

As you develop course documents and materials, keep accessibility in mind. While many students work with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to gain access to course materials, not all students with disabilities seek accommodations. Providing accessibility up front through design decisions can help all students, not just those with disabilities.

Put it into Practice: D2L Organization

Start by building out a couple of weeks of content and activities in your D2L course site. Then take a moment to reflect...
  • How are you choosing to organize your course?
  • What changes are you considering?
  • What builds on your prior practice?
  • Are there areas you’re not sure how to approach organizing?

Teaching Your Students Remotely

In your face-to-face classes, students have many opportunities to casually interact with each other, even if you don’t intentionally plan any community-building activities or discussions. Students borrow pens and pencils, ask what they missed last week or what page number you just said, and engage in all sorts of other incidental social interactions. These casual conversations lay important groundwork for more consequential actions and feelings of community and interconnectedness. In digital environments, these kinds of casual interactions are much harder to come by. Instead you’ll need to intentionally plan interaction — both to lay social groundwork and to facilitate the kind of community building that can help your students succeed in remote learning environments.

Staying Present Remotely

Keeping in contact with your students is especially critical in remote environments, and there are strategies for ways you can be visible in your remote course without spending 24/7 online. You will likely need to be particularly intentional about how you “show up” to your remote classes, taking particular care to show that humanness which can be flattened in digital spaces.


“When we’re talking about teaching for liberation and teaching for inclusiveness, you are incorporating new voices, the actual voices of the students in how you design the curriculum.”

Bryan Dewsbury on the Teaching in Higher Ed “Teaching as an Act of Social Justice and Equity” podcast episode #215


Centering your Students

We’re sure no one living through our current reality needs a reminder that it’s an especially difficult and stressful time. In addition to the changes in teaching and learning environments, we’re all under a tremendous amount of stress as we navigate global pandemic, heightened attention on ongoing racial injustice, and economic turmoil. Our students need empathy and support more than ever.

Group Work

Productive group work is always challenging to successfully implement, and remote courses make it even more difficult. Once common misconception is that students know how to work in groups automatically. Working in groups takes practice and specific skills such as planning, delegating, conflict resolution, and shared dialogue. If group work is a key component of your course, plan to scaffold that work and intentionally support effective group dynamics. See the resources below for specific examples and ideas.

Put into Practice: Center Your Students

What is your remote engagement plan? Take a moment and think about how you will stay present and center your students in your course. You might start with the following:

  • Plan your digital office hours and how you’ll invite students to attend.
  • Pick one assignment and identify alternative ways students could fulfill it.

Need More Help?

We'd love to hear from you. Full-service remote support is available to all PSU instructors through the Office of Academic Innovation. Contact the virtual Faculty Support Desk, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

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