Remote Instruction Principles
When preparing to transition your course plans and materials for remote instruction, please consider these guiding principles:
- Acclimate students to remote learning tools and practices early so that they are prepared should you need to conduct class remotely.
- Cultivate instructor presence in your course by communicating with students early and often. This is a key element in successful online teaching and student learning.
- Target key learning outcomes and be flexible enough to adjust specific activities to progress forward toward mastery of those outcomes. Avoid assigning “busy work” to students.
- Prioritize course activities and shift focus to delivering the ones that most closely align with learning outcomes for the course.
- Preserve normal course scheduling to the extent possible. Continue to hold synchronous activities to encourage community in the course, but be cautious not to penalize students who may not be able to participate due to conflicts with time zones, poor internet access, or other hindering factors. Synchronous activities should ideally fall within the scheduled class time to avoid putting students in situations where they may need to participate in activities for other courses.
- Synchronous vs. Asynchronous. Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content, material or activity that needs to be taught. Synchronous activities allow instructors and students to gather at the same time and interact in “real-time” through a web-conference. Asynchronous delivery allows instructors to prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options.
- The advantages of synchronous teaching include immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation. More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding. Disadvantages include identifying shared times for all students and instructors to meet. Furthermore, some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or consistent internet access.
- The advantages of asynchronous teaching include higher levels of scheduling flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible. Another advantage is increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material. Disadvantages include less personality exchanged and students less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors. Furthermore, the course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without real-time interaction.
- Replace physical resources with digital alternatives when possible. Students who are not on campus will not have the same level of access to library resources, textbooks, computer hardware, etc. Attempt to substitute materials that can be available to students for free online such as articles that can be located through library databases and credible websites. Remember to have realistic expectations of library support staff when asking for scanned book chapters or texts as resources may be limited and scanned documents may not meet accessibility recommendations.
- Consult your college administrators such as deans and chairs about college-specific considerations.
- Utilize ETSU tools and programs that are familiar to both you and your students when possible.
Additionally, it is recommended that you begin the online transition with some low-stakes exercises designed to build community in the online learning environment. Employing these exercises as early as possible will help students feel as if they are part of a collaborative learning community instead of individuals accessing course material independently and in isolation.