Getting Started

Before you begin transitioning your course plans and materials for remote instruction, consider the following general principles.

  • Prepare your students to conduct class remotely by introducing remote learning tools and practices as soon as you can.
  • Communicate with your students early and frequently. Cultivating a sense that you are present with the students in a meaningful way is crucial to successful online teaching. Communicate with your students about the frequency and availability that they can expect from you and that you expect from their use of the online tools you select for remote teaching.
  • Consider realistic goals for continuing instruction: Challenging times require flexibility. What do you think you can realistically accomplish during this time period? Do you think you can maintain your original syllabus and schedule? Do you hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability?
  • Focus on learning outcomes even if you need to adjust the specific activities that contribute to those outcomes. Keep students moving toward those outcomes. Avoid "busy work." Continue to align activities with learning objectives.
  • Maintain normal course scheduling as much as you can. Try to hold synchronous activities to promote community, but don't penalize students who cannot participate due to time zone differences, poor internet access, or similar factors. Additionally, it's ideal to schedule synchronous activities during the normal class time, to avoid putting students in the untenable position of having to choose between simultaneous activities for different classes.
  • Review your course schedule to determine priorities: Identify your priorities during the disruption—providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
  • Replace physical resources with digital resources where possible.
  • Try to pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. If a closure is caused by a local crisis, it may be already taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning.
  • Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Consult your departmental chair and/or dean about any division-specific considerations - this is particularly important if instructors themselves are physically unable to continue instruction.
  • Create and share a detailed communications plan: Once you have more details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.

For more information on these considerations, contact the Faculty Hub.