Bring Your Best: Advice from Faculty on Remote Teaching

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By Nancy Nelson and Elan Paulson

This month, in 2 workshops over 60 faculty members met to discuss how teaching in the fall term went for them. They shared their past successes and challenges teaching in a remote environment, then brainstormed ways to support student success in the coming term.​ Here’s what they recommend.

Aligning curriculum to outcomes 

  • Provide consistent communication of the foundations of course outcomes, and constant reminders for assignment deadlines – move to a technology section and suggest calendar or announcement prompts
  • Ask questions at the beginning of the lesson to tie in course outcomes; refer back at the end of the lesson 
  • Reinforce learning outcomes 
  • Revisit instructional plan every few weeks 
  • Give weekly (ungraded) quizzes to measure learning progress 

Creating an effective learning environment 

  • Spend one-on-one time with students, such as by setting office hours at the end of your classes (in class time)
  • Create communal Zoom room to meet at any time
  • Communicate about assignment policies (deadlines, late penalties, etc.) and tips for time management 
  • Encourage students to be mindful of each other 
  • Develop trust with students by being open and sincere, discussing what matters, modeling good practices, inviting questions, and being available 
  • Combine synchronous and pre-recorded/offline for longer class blocks (e.g. 3 hours) 
  • Use tools for engagement, like Teams or online survey tools 
  • Invite guest speakers from industry to connect what they learn in class with the “real world” environment! 
  • Make students more confident by encouraging them to share their opinions at the first few weeks of the classes 

Using a variety of teaching and learning strategies​ 

  • Provide formative assessments on a regular/weekly basis 
  • Ask students for direction on their choice of learning activities, and try to incorporate some of their preferences 
  • Focus on teaching strategies that promote engagement with each other and get students talking, such as breakout rooms
  • Add tutorials for students to ask questions and discuss content (not recorded) 
  • Use a mix of assessment types 
  • Assign more readings rather than flood with info during lecture 

Using technology to enhance learning 

  • Check students’ competencies using Zoom and other tools 
  • Simplify the technologies used to deliver activities 
  • Be prepared and aware of the technologies you are using (e.g., ensure the video is on) 
  • Bring a sense of humour and humility while using technology 
  • Try new engagement tools: Kahoot games, Padlet Q&A, Quizzez for Q&A, Wheel of Names, Answer Garden, Kahoot, Kaltura, Menti, Socrative.com, Google Doc 
  • Where there is more than 1 session, record the larger session because it’s more likely to have more participation and dynamic discussion 
  • Use Zoom polling to see if students are getting the key concepts  
  • Consider the value of recording lessons 
  • Share iPad – new feature in Zoom 
  • Log into lecture with a second device to see what students see 

Demonstrating (and supporting) persistence​ 

  • Show to students a balance of patience (understanding) with urgency about what is important (accountability) 
  • Point students to supports like Conestoga 101 
  • Ask students to share about their successes and experiences in their work/working experience and/or home countries 
  • Give a low grade (1%) value to watching a ‘how-to’ video (with a post-assessment) to enhance learning and to ensure knowledge on using platforms that they will need for the term 

Developing and curating resources 

  • Make more interactive options (e.g., H5P) 
  • Virtual field trips recorded for students 
  • Recording in the shop and post to eConestoga 
  • Explore real-life videos vs. textbook 
  • Use mind mapping – how to tie systems together; visual structure instead of only reading 
  • Encourage students to see concepts in real life 
  • Practice – use of textbook problems to reinforce learning 
  • Create more self study tools that guide, including release conditions on eConestoga
  • Share links to resources for student supports 

Being creative​ 

  • Use fun, collaborative games (e.g., Jeopardy) 
  • Create an online ‘social network’ for non-class time which allows students to connect and hang out, such as discussion boards in eConestoga
  • Using different strategies in each session 

Showing curiosity and modelling professional practice 

  • Continue with taking these workshops 
  • Use Teams to ask questions, and help share ideas (MS Teams Community of Practice, Teaching at Conestoga
  • Communicate the fact that faculty is learning as we proceed

To build a personalized plan for teaching and learning this term, see the Hub post, Reflective Tool for Teacher Development.


Writing Details

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  • Published: January 15, 2021
  • Word Count: 1218
  • Reading time: ~ 3 minutes
  • Rights: This work is ©2021 All Rights Reserved
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Elan Paulson

Elan Paulson, PhD, has been an educator in Ontario's higher education system since 2004. Before joining Conestoga as a Teaching and Learning Consultant, Elan was on the executive team at eCampusOntario. She previously served as Program Director and as an instructor in professional education programs at Western University's Faculty of Education. With a Master's in Educational Technology, Elan specializes in technology-enabled and collaborative learning to support diverse learners. She has also conducted research on faculty participation in communities of practice for professional learning and self-care.

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