Teaching Strategies

Emergency Remote Instruction

As BC continues to practice remote instruction in light of COVID-19 concerns this summer, many instructors are understandably overwhelmed by the prospect of designing and implementing remote courses on an abbreviated timeline. The following resources are meant to provide you a starting point for planning your transition to remote instruction, and you can also count on CTE, CDIL, and ITS staff to help you work through the challenges that arise.

As you get started, it might be helpful to review these example scenarios of remote instruction, to give you an idea of what a remote learning experience might look like. 

If you can’t find the information you need below, we’re also compiling an FAQ of additional questions as they come in.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Emergency remote instruction is not the same as online learning: Faculty preparing to teach a formal online course can spend six months or more designing it. While you are teaching a course that is not designed to be a fully online, asynchronous course, you do have a little more time before the summer sessions begin to prepare your course. Keep your focus on simple solutions whenever possible and focus on your and your students’ overall experience. 

Low tech can be the best solution: It can be tempting to try to reproduce the in-class experience by primarily utilizing synchronous platforms, such as Zoom, but getting all your students online at the same time can be a challenge (some students may lack internet access, some may not have a quiet place to participate from, some may be in a remote time zone, etc.). Mixing asynchronous approaches with occasional targeted synchronous discussions can often be a more effective way to engage students. This is especially true for 3-hour courses, when Zoom fatigue can become a real barrier to learning.

Revisit your goals: Take a step back to revisit what you see as the most fundamental goals for your course and focus your design around those goals, giving yourself permission to set aside some of the more peripheral goals. While we have more time and, for some of us, experience with remote teaching now, COVID-19 is still forcing us to adapt to less-than-ideal teaching conditions, and so we may have to rethink our educational ideals in the face of it. Decide what’s most important to you and let that guide your decisions.

Center human connection: Experts in online instruction emphasize the importance of connection as essential to remote learning environments. And given the heightened anxiety and uncertainty we are all experiencing at this moment, it’s even more important that we make space to approach each other with compassion and generosity. BC’s commitment to cura personalis becomes particularly salient given the increased isolation we’re all likely to experience in the coming weeks. 

REMOTE TEACHING BASICS 

As you strategize about teaching in a remote context, we recommend putting your focus on six areas: creating a welcoming learning community, communication and community, content delivery, communication & community, student engagement, assessing learning, and accessibility.  Find links to information on each of these areas below:

A well-organized Canvas course site will help to keep your students organized and provide you with a home-base from which to lead your course. Here are some ways to create a welcoming learning community for you and your students:

  • Create a homepage and post an updated syllabus
  • Use the announcements feature to communicate with your students
  • Use the modules feature to create an outline of each week of your course
    • Elements of a weekly online module might include:
      • A welcome message or introduction to the theme or key learning points for the week.
      • All course readings and materials for the week, whether these are prompts to specific textbook readings, links to PDFs or videos, or e-reserves from the BC libraries. 
      • Asynchronous weekly discussion forums to facilitate class discussion and participation 
      • Assignment submission links including instructions and related rubrics
      • Links to Zoom synchronous sessions and recordings of Zoom or Panopto videos
  • Set up the Canvas gradebook to calculate grades and to deliver feedback to your students

Continue to cultivate a sense of trust and common purpose in your remote courses by using the tools available to center relationships. Read more about communication & community

In planning for content and its delivery to students, consider the range of options now available through BC Libraries and the Bookstore.  Read more about content delivery.

Online interaction is different in significant ways from interacting in person, but it can offer other advantages.  Read more about options for student engagement.

Assessing student learning can be one of the most significant challenges in a remote environment, depending on your field and context, but a number of options are available and  CTE and CDIL staff are ready to help you consider what will work best for your course.  Read more about assessment.  

Additional tips for creating a welcoming learning environment:

  • Create a “Questions & Comments” discussion forum where students can ask you and their classmates questions.
  • Conduct regular office hours (via Zoom or Google Hangouts) to provide students with a reliable venue for interacting with you one-on-one. 
  • Learning can be greatly affected by how students are feeling generally.  Review suggestions for providing appropriate support, drawing on resources from Student Affairs, University Counseling and other BC services.

COURSE-SPECIFIC CONCERNS

Some types of courses demand more creative approaches to remote instruction. We are compiling the best advice we find in the resources below. If you have your own recommendations to make, please share those with us at centerforteaching@bc.edu.