Demystifying the Transition to Remote Teaching

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The Center for Teaching Excellence and the Office of Faculty Success & Diversity are here to provide support and resources as we shift our courses to a remote teaching and learning environment.  In this abrupt transitional moment, we are not expected to engage in high level online instruction, so please go easy on yourself and our students as we prepare for a virtual teaching and learning environment. The following items are intended to help us self-assess our courses and teaching approaches for remote instruction with a focus on clarity and transparency. The CTE can assist in any of these areas as needed or redirect your inquiries to COLTT as needed.


  • Departments & Colleges: Your department might have more details and a plan in place for shifting classes to remote teaching. Before making drastic revisions, please contact your program, department and/or college/school for further guidance and support as they can provide additional resources available to each area.
  • Asynchronous learning & teaching: Use synchronous learning when absolutely necessary and be flexible with students who are unable to engage in a synchronous environment. Consider designing asynchronous learning and teaching spaces as students will have many other personal demands (e.g., caring for young children as many schools are closing, parents, grandparents, personal well-being, work, etc.). Plan to design an asynchronous virtual learning and teaching environment where students can accomplish learning objectives and tasks with ample time and flexible deadlines in place.
  • Seek Peer and Student Feedback: Engage in conversations about teaching with your peers and exchange best teaching practices. Don’t hesitate to reach out to colleagues and design a collective approach to online teaching in your departments, programs, or small teaching groups. We are the best resource for each other! Most importantly, create online discussion boards on Blackboard or other spaces where students can provide feedback on what is working and where we can all adjust. Their voice, experiences, and insights are invaluable at this time! Listen openly and adjust as needed.
  • Be Empathetic and Flexible: to yourself and our students! We must remember that this dynamic is new to all of us and many of our students may not have regular and consistent access to the internet and they might also have personal demands at home that require their attention, so remaining kind, respectful, and empathetic is essential. Demonstrate understanding of and flexibility with students’ personal circumstances and concerns.
  • Transparent pedagogical design: Transparent design is essential to meaningful teaching and learning spaces. Communicate to students the following: the SLOs for the week (make them manageable and flexible), the purpose of the assignment/activity/project/quiz, the task at hand of what they will be expected to accomplish, and how the task will be assessed (a rubric or a what makes it effective description). 
  • Active Learning, Engaged, and Empowered Learners: Remember one of our goals as instructors is to create spaces where students are active learners as they showcase their knowledge and learning. This does not change in online learning environments. In fact, online learning spaces are ideal for creating opportunities for our students to practice new skills, share and develop learning resources with each other, teach each other, and ultimately remain active, engaged, and empowered learners. Our online activities, discussions, assignments should provide our students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning differently and empower each other through this process.
  • Differentiated Instruction: Be mindful of our students’ diverse abilities as well as documented differentiated instruction to ensure all students are able to demonstrate learning in different ways by building on their resources, strengths, and knowledge. Please be open to responding to extensions equitably to ensure all students have opportunities to achieve SLOs.