How Do I Teach a Remote Course?

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All things on this website are specific to the remote environment during COVID. ​​​​​

What is the difference between a remote course and an online course? 

At Kent State University, the term “remote” reflects a new scheduling category created post-COVID-19. A remote course is one that was originally scheduled to be taught in an in-person format but is now being taught remotely using a web-based platform. Remote courses differ from courses formally designated as “online” in that the online category existed pre-COVID-19.

Both remote and online courses can be delivered synchronously, asynchronously or in a combination of both.

As you get started, choose between synchronous and asynchronous in how you want to structure your remote class. Watch the video below to help you decide what is best for your course and use the remaining resources on this page as needed. 

Kent State University provides access to tools and resources to help conduct classroom experiences with remote teaching recommendations, synchronous and asynchronous course content, recording lectures/presentations, posting class material and identifying licensed content, creating assignments and tests and holding virtual office hours.


Recommendations for Remote Instruction

Remote instruction may be offered through any combination of synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods. Instructors should consider students’ needs for interaction, feedback and engagement when evaluating various instructional methods.

Access to Technology

Be prepared to assist students who may not have access to the preferred or required technology requirements. This may include options such as directing them to university/college/department resources or providing alternative means for students to meet the learning objectives of your course.


Have A Student that has Tech Needs?

The University has provided funds for students in need of technology thru the emergency grant fund. Please direct students to the COVID-19 Emergence Resources page.

Clear and Regular Communication

Clear and regular communication is more important than ever for conveying information and expectations that are critical for student success. Instructors should contact students with information about technology requirements, any scheduling modifications, and what kind of learning experience they can expect in the course as soon as possible.

Consider Each Modality

Carefully consider what is best conveyed in each modality (synchronous vs asynchronous). Ask questions such as:

  • Would students benefit from getting this information in small “chunks” that can be viewed multiple times?
  • Is it essential that all students are introduced to this information simultaneously?
  • Is the presentation of information interspersed with opportunities to engage (discuss, apply, reflect, etc)?
  • Is interaction between students in real-time important (group work, projects)?
Effective Use of Technology

Student learning can be greatly enhanced through effective use of technology. As you consider the uses of various technologies, keep in mind that there is a learning curve for both you and students. Introduce any new technologies one at a time, with sufficient time to practice skill before attaching high stakes assessments to these technologies.

  • For example, if you are using proctored testing, offer a low-stakes/no-stakes quiz for students to become familiar with the technology.
Internet Access Issues

Recognize that internet access issues will occur for everyone—including instructors. These may be transient or momentary loss of video or audio, or they may be persistent. Consider making recordings of all or part of your synchronous class sessions available to students, perhaps even on a temporary basis. Instructors may want to consider including a statement related to instructor outages in the syllabus. For example, if the instructor loses internet connection, students are expected to remain connected for 10 minutes before leaving the remote session.

Make the Learning Experience Personal

Make the learning experience as personal as possible in order to create a sense of community. This may include using video (instructor and students on-screen). Keep in mind that there are many legitimate reasons that you and/or your students may be reluctant to share video. Alternatively, instructors and students may wish to use still photos or image avatars to express their individual identities. It is also possible to use custom virtual backgrounds in live-streaming platforms (e.g. SnapCamera App works in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra).

Student Engagement and Participation

Student engagement and participation can be more difficult to establish during remote instruction, particularly if you cannot “see” all students and gauge their participation in the course. Furthermore, students may be unable to attend a synchronous session if they experience internet access issues. There are multiple ways to engage students and address attendance concerns including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Polling students
  • Asking students to post in the chat
  • Having students move themselves to specified breakout rooms
  • Asking students to answer discussion questions (by raising their hands to contribute or by posting in the chat window)
  • Individual or collaborative work that results in a product (see below for further interactive work options)
  • Reviewing attendance records of streaming sessions (Blackboard provides a log of who has been logged on/length of time as well as recordings of course sessions and the chat window if selected).
  • Requiring students who were unable to connect to view recordings and either summarize or answer specific questions about missed session
  • Carefully consider students’ needs for specific materials, such as those required in studios courses. Given the difficulty students may have in acquiring these materials, instructors may want to prepare individual kits to be mailed or distributed to students, budget permitting.
Use the Kent State Online Template

DL support staff are available to assist faculty interested in deploying the Kent State Online template (KSOT) in their online course. The Kent State Online template is designed to help faculty building an online course in Blackboard Learn create a high-quality learning experience for students quickly and easily. The template comes pre-loaded with a standard course structure as well as placeholders for course content that can be customized.


Synchronous Course Content

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra helps to connect with your class in real time. The following materials demonstrate how to add Collaborate Ultra to your existing Blackboard course, facilitate a Collaborate Ultra session, present materials from your screen and talk live (online) with your students.

Engaging with Students through Synchronous Course Content 

Success in the remote environment is directly related to how engaged students are in the remote classroom. To encourage students to engage with the synchronous course content, see additional resources below. 


Asynchronous Course Content

Asynchronous courses use Blackboard technologies to deliver digital content and to facilitate regular and substantive interactions between students and their instructor while allowing for more flexibility in scheduling. The minimal expectation of instructors/student interaction should be analogous to the amount of instructors/student interaction that takes place during the course when it is delivered in a synchronous environment (i.e., “face-to-face”).

Asynchronous course delivery (students do not need to participate online at the same time) is one option instructors may implement in a remote platform. Content may be delivered in multiple digital formats, and tools are available within Blackboard which allow the instructor to engage and interact with students throughout the course schedule.

Engaging with Students through Asynchronous Course Content 

Whether in a physical or virtual classroom, students can benefit from their collaboration with their peers. Here are a few techniques and tools for helping students collaborate in an asynchronous classroom. 

Active Learning
Collaborative Work
Communication
Creating Presence and Community
Discussion Threads/Forums

A discussion forum, or discussion board, is an online location for asynchronous written communication. As participants post messages containing their original thoughts as well as responses to posts from other class members, a threaded written dialogue develops.

Interaction

Encouraging interactions between students is also important in an asynchronous class. You can use the following tools in your Blackboard course to allow students to work in a small groups with collaborative tools. 

Even though there are not set times for classroom lectures, you can still encourage students to meet with each other with each in a synchronous setting and you can also use these tools to interact with one-on-one or in small groups with students (while remaining cognizant that synchronous meeting times cannot be arbitrary set, but, instead, mutually agreed upon).

Think, Pair, Share is a technique that you may have employed in your classroom, which encourages students to think through problems (analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing) while work in pairs for a set amount of time so that they can share their results with the class.

In an online, asynchronous class, you can pose one or multiple questions in a discussion forum with the instruction that each group of students will post their synthesized answers to the discussion forum after first working in pairs to analyze and evaluate the question.

Mastering Teaching Presence
Providing Feedback and Grading

Holding Virtual Office Hours

Office hours remain an important element in the student-instructor relationship. Acknowledging the current restrictions put in place by COVID, vitual office hours benefit students in remote learning courses. 

Strategies for Holding Virtual Office Hours:

  • Clearly establish a time for virtual office hours
  • Decide what kind of communication tools you will use
  • Set a policy for when students should expect a response when using asynchronous tools 
  • Utilize video capabilities 

Identify Licensed Content for my Class

If you need online materials such as ebooks, streaming videos, articles, etc. for your course, please see the Course Reserves Website for more information and to submit a request. 

For any additional assistance or questions, please reach out to your subject librarian.