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Remote Teaching Strategies

Moving to remote teaching often asks you to consider new strategies for teaching and supporting learning. Remote Teaching Strategies shares proven and easy-to-implement strategies in key areas. Learn more about Asynchronous Approach, Establishing Your Voice, Effectively Sharing Content, Options for Assessing Learning and Fostering Student Engagement.

We are learning that our circumstances are variable and changing – including what devices and access our students have; whether the systems that we are relying on can fail under a high level of use. In Plan B, you can find strategies for developing a resiliency plan, alternative assignments, and other techniques if the system fails.

Moving to an Asynchronous Approach

When planning for remote learning over a longer time frame, determining how much and when to use real-time or live classes becomes a critical decision. Sessions using Collaborate with students are considered synchronous learning - when everyone is in the same place at the same time.

Asynchronous learning includes any activities where students are participating at different days and times within a broader time frame – watching a video, reading materials, completing an assignment, contributing to a discussion or blog, or taking a quiz. Many elements of an online course are asynchronous as the reason many students take online classes is for that flexibility. Read more about synchronous and asynchronous learning.

What are the Benefits of Asynchronous Learning?

  • Students participate when they are most able to.
  • There is time for reflection, leading to richer contributions.
  • Your class time is also spread out, granting you similar flexibility.

Establishing Your Voice

You are the most influential part of your course – whether on campus, online, or remote. Your role, particularly in a remote environment, is more than lecturer, it includes encouraging students, providing support for how to learn, and managing the process of learning (learn about your different roles). Much of that emerges organically in a classroom. In an online or remote environment, this often needs to be planned and intentional. Try these ACUE strategies to create a vibrant course environment that will engage and motivate students.

Create Context and Connections

Guiding students through the learning process is key to student success. Share your expertise and passion for the subject matter by providing an introduction to a new topic, explanations of why you are choosing the activities and content in the course, and making connections between concepts and the course goals, program needs, and the world. Use the Announcement Tool and the Text Editor to make sure that whenever students go in the course, they are feeling your presence. Build a rhythm to each week of the course using suggestions from ACUE.

Tip: Consider recording short 30 sec. overview videos or podcasts for each week so students can actually see and hear you.

Personalized Feedback

Coaching students through their learning journey is often a rewarding part of teaching. Remotely this can be providing feedback on submitted work, meeting students in virtual office hours, and sending kudos through Starfish. Providing feedback within a few days has an outsized impact on the motivation of the student. Knowing how they did, what they can do better, and that you care about their success is a powerful effect. ACUE provides a guide for giving constructive feedback.

Tip: Try using the audio feedback function for ensuring that your encouraging tone and nuanced feedback is conveyed.

Respond to Student Contributions

Students can feel isolated in a remote course, particularly if they feel they are contributing, whether in discussions or submitted work, and not hearing much back. Balancing facilitation in a discussion while allowing students to engage with each other is sometimes delicate. Try creating a summary post or Announcement that captures key points and includes your input. Asking questions that extend the conversation (That’s a great point, have you considered this...) can give a boost to a discussion. Learn more about managing your online presence from ACUE.

Effectively Sharing Content

The lecture is a key component to any class whether you are teaching on-campus, blended or online. It takes the content from the textbook and places it in context to the other information previously learned. The lecture helps take new knowledge and build a relationship with the student’s established knowledge. The key to a good lecture is student engagement. And engagement is the key to student success. So how does the lecture change when teaching online?


Often in class, a lecture may be broken up with class discussions, questions, group activities, or other pauses. The same applies online. Recording a whole week’s worth of material into one video makes it difficult to consume in one sitting. Break up the topics you want to present in a week into chunks and create learning around those chunks. When posting any videos – yours or from other sources – it is a good practice to include the length of the video in the title to allow students to plan their time.
Integrate mini-lectures, readings, and/or videos by others into a chunk. Combing the content ‘chunk’ with an activity such as discussion, reflection, quiz, or blog post -- to allow students to recall and apply the knowledge immediately to solidify learning and make connections with the information.


Scaffolding is stacking content so that learning builds, one on top of the other, towards a course outcome. The key to scaffolding content includes the chunking described above with creating context and connections under Establishing Your Voice. Together they create an interconnected structure of learning elements that all support your students’ journey to mastering course objectives.

Scaffolding includes description, demonstration, modeling and practice.

Embrace Variety

In the area of course content, variety can be seen in different areas. It can mean combining text, images, videos, and interactives. It can also mean highlighting your voice, introducing other voices in your field, even finding space for student voices. Providing variety in the course content has many advantages. Presenting information in different formats (text, graph, video) requires students to remember the information in multiple ways (dual encoding), reinforcing and deepening understanding.

Including a variety of voices, especially including diverse perspectives, demonstrates that knowledge is created and being created in your discipline; highlight where there is agreement and where not; and provide ways for students to connect with their place in the discussion. Variety in voices, especially students, can also bridge the ‘expert’ gap where their explanations to each other can make sense in a different way than your explanation.

Options for Assessing Learning

One of the frequent comments from faculty new to teaching remotely is that it can be difficult to know whether students are “getting it.” Assessing learning in an online environment often requires re-thinking how students can demonstrate achievement of learning objectives in this environment. Often a mix of solutions works best. Consider any or all the following strategies.

Knowledge Checking

Building in frequent, low or no-stakes activities gives you a window into student progress. These can include quizzes, sometimes with multiple opportunities, reflection journals, pre-assessment activities, and discussions. These checkpoints can help you see where students are struggling and help students feel confident or reach out for more help.

Planning for Integrity

Academic integrity is often a concern in online environments, though research often shows that cheating levels are about the same online or not. Regardless, ensuring integrity is important. There are technology options, such as SafeAssign plagiarism-detection tool and Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor virtual proctoring tool, as well as Blackboard Test features such as randomizing questions and answers, pulling from a question pool, and setting a time limit that can all be employed.

When considering assessment in online classes, choosing an approach that takes advantage of the online environment can create a more authentic assessment of learning with a higher level of confidence. Consider these alternatives to timed, closed-book exams or reach out to us to talk about your needs and options.

In any situation, having a conversation with students about what academic dishonesty looks like in your course and discipline can raise awareness in students of the practices in your field as well as communicate your commitment to a fair learning environment. Surveys of students about cheating often mention that they did not think their teacher cared – or did not care to check.

Fostering Student Engagement

Interaction and engagement are important in any class, but it is particularly important remotely, where feelings of isolation and disconnection from peers and instructor can easily happen by default. This is one of the most challenging areas of course planning, because you are trying to anticipate what students may think and need. Discussion forums are a common choice but not the only tool for this. Blogs, Collaborate sessions, and group work can all be effective.

Planning for engagement includes asking:

  • What is the purpose or learning goal of the engagement?
  • What is your role in the engagement (leader, facilitator, contributor, observer)?
  • What are your expectations for student engagement and how have you communicated that expectation? Did you provide an example?
  • What does a 'quality' contribution look like - both in initial/primary contribution and in responses/secondary contribution?
  • Does everyone have to do it all each time?
  • Are you grading the engagement and at what level - yes/no participation, minimal/good/great, something more detailed? Consider a rubric?
  • Is the structure and expectations of the engagement mindful of the participant's time?