Best Practices for Teaching Remotely

With the barrage of information regarding remote instruction comes information overload! Express English 412 made a quick, comprehensive guide for instructors adjusting and/or adapting to teaching remotely. This guide was created by an educator who has taught in-person and online language courses and sees the benefit (and drawbacks) of both.

A list of links to the sources consulted is at the bottom of this post.

General guidelines for adapting your class for remote instruction

Compared with face-to-face lessons, online instruction provides opportunities for different modes of instruction. However, having more options does not always make things easier. You will need to revisit your learning objectives and determine what sort of access to technology your students have before deciding the mode of instruction and what technologies to use for your lessons.

Synchronous instruction is interactive, happens at a scheduled time, and is best implemented with audio or video conferencing and other web-based technologies like VoiceThread or chats. This mode of instruction is better for smaller, discussion-based contexts. Synchronous lessons help to create a Community of Inquiry; however, with students in different time zones, juggling working from home and/or caregiving responsibilities, it might prove difficult to find a good time for all of your class to meet. Furthermore, another consideration for synchronous instruction are bandwidth issues, which is necessary to think about before requiring students to share video on online video platforms like Zoom.

Asynchronous content, on the other hand, provides opportunities for more independent work and is suited for larger, lecture-based classes. Discussion boards and video lectures or voiced-over PowerPoint presentations can all be utilized for asynchronous content. Asynchronous instruction, if organized effectively, can provide a great opportunity for group collaboration on a large project.

Online instruction does not have to be an either/or—instructors should be encouraged to select elements from each that help meet their course’s learning objectives.

Adapting assignments & assessments for online

Keep it simple. Provide clear instructions for assignments and exams and limit them to a few tasks or question types.

Create longer, student-driven projects. Long-term tasks that give students autonomy, checkpoints and established deadlines allows for simple instruction and student ownership for their work. Students will be more engaged in material that they have more control over. What’s more, this type of assignment provides opportunities for student interaction as they can update their classmates on the progress they have made or the hurdles they have encountered when working on their projects.

Recognize learning objectives can be demonstrated in various ways. Reevaluate your learning objectives and determine what sort of learning or skill they are asking of students. Ask yourself which tasks or activities would allow students the chance to demonstrate acquisition of those objectives. Then, figure out what of those tasks or activities could be performed virtually.

If you are worried about academic integrity, you can make the exams available for a limited amount of time. Also, you can choose to make your assessments open book and include question types like: short answer questions with required citations, reflection responses, or real-world case studies or applications.