Adapted from the Center for Teaching and Learning at Columbia University, Georgetown University, the Derek Book Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University, and Swarthmore College
Determine your priorities
Consider what can be realistically accomplished in the course. Can you keep everything on your original syllabus? Which activities can be most easily adapted online? Is it possible to prioritize certain activities or assignments over others? Keep in mind that the transition to remote learning may have an impact on which activities/assignments are most appropriate for your course.
Be clear, concise, and comprehensive
It is more difficult to ad lib a class session while teaching remotely. Prepare sessions beforehand to ensure logical flow, clear instructions, and accurate placement of content. Class will be much smoother with organization beforehand.
Establish a clear mode of communication with students
Whether through Canvas/Courseworks or email, ensure students all have access to and are aware of this communication method.
Have a back-up plan
Have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties. Consider moving classroom discussion to a written discussion thread on Courseworks.
Have a solid outline/lesson plan with activities and backups
Consider making anything you intend to present to students available; it can be helpful for students to have access to course materials independently (power points, audio, video, web sites etc.).
Identify options to provide student feedback/evaluation digitally
Think about how your methods for providing student feedback and grades could be moved to a digital space like email or Canvas (if they are not already digital). Consider office hours virtually through Zoom according to a schedule, by appointment, or both.
Provide a manageable amount of content
It’s important to consider how much work is reasonable to expect of students while at the same time ensuring that you’re covering the necessary content.
Provide a variety of learning activities
Consider which types of activities are appropriate and how you might offer different types of assignments to make the course more interesting and engaging for the students. Don’t try too many types of activities in one session, in order to minimize the chance of technical problems and confusion.
Avoid making last-minute changes
Making changes can have unintended consequences such as inconsistent information. This can create confusion for the students and it may be more difficult for you to recognize their confusion online. It may also take more time for you to explain things.
Setting the Tone for Students
Smoothly transition from in-person to online classrooms by circulating expectations prior to class
You might consider preparing students for what class sessions will look like, what technology you’re using, and what they should do in the event of problems via email prior to the first online class session. You can also encourage students to find a quiet space in which to participate where they won’t be interrupted and where background noise and/or images won’t distract other people if they are asked to contribute.
Clarify online classroom expectations and roles through community agreements
If learning in an online environment is new for you and for your students, consider having a discussion with students about how to translate your classroom norms from the face-to-face classroom into your online space.
By building these community agreements collaboratively with your students, you and your students will be more invested in using the online classroom as a shared space. Topics to address include use of microphones, webcams, and chat features; protocols for interacting and engaging during online activities; and ways to seek help with technology.
Define learning objectives and participation
Communicating learning objectives to students helps to keep them focused on what they are learning, and will help you and your instructional team determine what is most important to do synchronously online. Use your objectives to consider what should or can only be done when your class is meeting and what might be movable to out-of-class videos, homework, or activities. Similarly, defining what participation looks like will help your students make progress towards these learning objectives, and allow for you to give feedback on engagement.
Consider creating opportunities for students to interact informally
This can be done quickly through icebreakers or activities that students can do as they enter the online classroom right before class or as class begins. These bits of small talk or fun can go a long way in helping build community over distances and reduce feelings of isolation.
Start small, collect feedback, and reflect
Teaching online is likely a new experience for you and your students, and will certainly not be without its challenges. Do not feel you need to use all the tools at once, as that would most likely be overwhelming for everyone. Instead, introduce tools and activities slowly to give you and your students practice. Encourage your students to provide feedback on their experience to help you to reflect, revise, and try again next class.
Share campus resources
Some students may feel vulnerable and/or stressed given the recent updates regarding COVID-19. Be mindful that an event of this magnitude that impacts the entire campus can have a substantial impact on students and their capacity to engage in coursework. Instructors may need to adjust academic assignments and examinations accordingly. If students express concerns or request accommodations, we advise that you refer them to campus resources like the Deans Office, Furman Counseling Center, Primary Care Health Services, or the CARDS office.
Tips for Zoom
Adapted from The University of Iowa’s Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology
Set ground rules for Zoom via email before class
A sample email* that can be edited to your preferences:
“Our class will meet online through the Zoom. We will adopt the same rules and norms as in a physical classroom (take notes; participate by asking and answering questions; wear classroom-ready clothing). For everyone’s benefit, join the course in a quiet place. Turn on your video. Mute your microphone unless you are speaking. You may want to test your microphone and web camera prior to class and make sure that your video background is appropriate. Consider closing browser tabs not required for the course to minimize distractions. This form of learning will be somewhat new to all of us, and success will depend on the same commitment we all bring to the physical classroom.”
*Adapted from Harvard University’s Best Practices for Online Pedagogy
Create a clear lesson plan and class outline
Creating a class outline that signals to your instructional team and to your students what technology, tools, or platforms they will be expected to use as part of class is also a good practice. This helps signpost to students what is coming up, and transparency about technology use gives them an opportunity to prepare so that they are ready to engage once the activities begin.
Define teaching roles and make the roles clear to students
If you have an instructional team (e.g. co-instructors or TAs), determine the roles that you will play during class. Two such roles include the instructor who leads the class (providing the main voice and being the person on camera throughout the learning experience) and the instructor who supports the lead instructor (helping to answer questions on chat, to set up any online tools (e.g., breakout rooms, polls), and to assist with troubleshooting if students have any problems).
If you use breakout rooms, the supporting instructor or TAs can also help facilitate small group discussion. Making these roles clear to students is helpful so that they can engage the appropriate person if they need help.
Encourage students and TAs to log into Zoom prior to meeting time
Students can set up their headsets, camera and microphones and to ensure that they are working properly
Set expectations for screen & video sharing
Let students know who is allowed to and/or responsible for the shared content.
Encourage community through Zoom
Consider requiring students to turn on video as part of their participation in the online course to encourage enhanced presence and engagement in the class. Students may also feel more attentive knowing they are visible on Zoom.
Remind students to check their video background
Remind students to be sure that their background is appropriate while sharing video, along with how their image is displayed to the rest of the class.
Establish how students will request to speak
Explain how you want students to request an opportunity to speak. For example, raise hands or submit a question via chat box.
Actively facilitate the discussion
It may be more difficult to read students’ body language over Zoom and students may inadvertently speak at the same. Students less inclined to participate in class may also have more difficulty speaking in online discussions. Consider diligently pausing and asking if anyone else has more thoughts before jumping to the next topic.
Establish text chat rules
Set ground rules for use of text chat. Discourage "side conversations" that will distract students from the ongoing conversation. Explain what is and isn't appropriate for them to post.
Hold 1:1 meetings with students
Schedule meetings with students that you would normally meet face-to-face with by using a Zoom meeting.
Hold exam review sessions
Open a Zoom session for student led discussion or instructor led review, and allow students to enter as necessary.
IMATS has updated information on zoom tutorials and information on online learning.
Tips for Accommodations
Provided by Holly Tedder, Director of the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services, Barnard College
Adjust online exams for students’ accommodation
You can adjust specific students’ accommodations so that they are able to receive their extended time. We recommend that you cross-reference the information in the AIM Faculty Portal as you’re setting this up.
Consider students’ accommodations when planning take-home exams
Consider whether students who are ill or have a disability may need additional time to complete take home exams. Have a plan for extension requests. If you’ve set a time limit on Canvas for turning in an assignment, be sure to communicate with students who have extension accommodations regarding how they can turn in the assignment with their extended deadline.
Make slides/notes/recordings available through Canvas after live streaming.
Class lectures can be recorded in Canvas using Big Blue Button, or through Zoom. Consider whether you will require remote teleconference attendance for these lectures, or whether there are other ways for students to demonstrate engagement with the material (discussion posts, response papers, etc.).