Make a plan for remote learning! Planning ahead now as much as possible and sharing these plans with your students up-front will hopefully minimize the level of disruption we'll face if we have to switch to remote learning again.

Begin by completing this training on the concept of resilient pedagogy, a reframing of our efforts to plan for any future disruptions to our courses and the expansion of remote learning in higher education. Instead of being forced to rapidly shift to a new, uncomfortable form of teaching, building courses with resilience in mind allows us to more easily switch between modalities and ways of delivering instruction. Take a look at this brief overview of resilient pedagogy for more information.

After completing this training, make use of the resources categorized below to develop a plan for how your course could be delivered remotely if we experience disruptions in the future or if online sections are offered in addition to face-to-face options.

Remote Teaching at Mid

One of the most important aspects of transitioning to remote learning is communicating with our students. What are your plans in the event the College needs to rapidly transition to remote learning and how are you making your students aware of them? The more you can prepare students for the possibilities of what may need to happen, the easier the transition will be for them later on.

To this end, we recommend communicating your plan with students as soon as possible. This information could be included in your syllabus or you could create a video explaining your plan to them and keep it posted in your Moodle course shell throughout the semester. However you choose to do it, this is an important step.

As far as how to communicate with students if the College is forced to go remote, here are several suggestions.

  • Schedule office hours on Zoom to provide students with an opportunity to chat with you in real-time.
  • Utilize the Quickmail function in Moodle to quickly email your entire class.
  • Create a space in your course to have an open dialogue with students regarding the new expectations for your course (such as an FAQ/Q+A forum).
  • Use a service like Remind to quickly send messages to students' phones without having to reveal personal information like your phone number.

Once campus closes and you're unable to access your classroom, how will you be able to teach?

First, you'll want to determine if you'll be delivering content synchronously (you and all of your students are online at the same time) or asynchronously (you post content for students to access at different times).

If you decide to deliver content synchronously, your tool of choice will most likely be Zoom, the college's solution for real-time video conferencing. This Tech Bites: Zoom training will give you instructions on how to use Zoom and tips for how instructors use Zoom to teach. Pair Zoom with Peardeck (Tech Bites: Peardeck), a plug-in for Google slides that allows you to add interactive slides, to create engaging presentations with opportunities for formative assessments.

If you decide to deliver content asynchronously, you'll have a few more tools at your disposal (and even if you're teaching synchronously, you could definitely utilize some of these tools as well). It's likely you'll be delivering any lecture type content in the form of video. To record, the college suggests using a free screencast tool like Screencast-o-matic. This Tech Bites for Screencast-o-matic will cover the basics of how to use this tool. Alternatively, you can also use Zoom to record yourself, similar to how you might record a live lecture for future use, or your laptop's built-in webcam program. Another option to consider is podcasting (Tech Bites: Podcasting), creating audio-only presentations to give your students.

Regardless of how you're delivering your content, be sure to think about how you're chunking the content for students. It's likely that students will face increased levels of stress during this time, which may limit their ability to manage large amounts of information at once. Consider the use of micro-lectures (Tech Bites: Microlectures) to create more obviously scaffolded presentations.

Additional tools that you may find useful for delivering content:

One of the hardest things to recreate in a remote environment is the type of interaction we take for granted in the classroom. But fear not, it can be done!

If you'll be teaching synchronously via Zoom, it's likely that many of the activities you do to create engagement in the classroom will translate to the virtual environment. We particularly recommend the use of Breakout Rooms to create small-group interactions which can then be shared out with the whole group.

One of our favorite tools for creating interaction in an online class is Flipgrid (Tech Bites: Flipgrid), a tool that allows for audio/video discussion forums. Students can respond to each other with video, which fosters more of a personal connection. Additionally, students can record their screens or can use a whiteboard which they can annotate, which can be useful for sharing presentations or explaining their thought process.
The traditional written discussion forum can also be extremely useful and versatile. To get the most out of written discussion forums, it might be helpful to break students into smaller groups.

We also suggest using the real-time collaborative features built into GSuite products: DocsSlides, etc. These tools allow students to collaborate on a variety of assignments.

Additional resources and suggestions for creating community in a remote setting:

Now that your plans for the semester have shifted, what types of activities and assessments will you utilize? Will you use the same activities and assessments you usually do or will you create new ones specifically for remote learning?

As previously mentioned, if teaching via Zoom, you'll likely be able to use most of your typical in-class activities. However, instead of trying to take what you would have done in the classroom and graft it onto an online delivery, this might be an excellent opportunity for you to try something new!

For this process, we would urge you to consider the concept of backwards design: What are your course objectives? How can these be measured in an authentic way? What projects or assignments can students do that will demonstrate mastery of these objectives? Utilizing project based or authentic assessments wherever possible will also reduce the fear of cheating.

For suggestions of different activities and assessments you could utilize during a period of remote learning, check out these resources:

Focusing on the way your course is organized in Moodle is an important way to help students feel less overwhelmed and to help them understand what is expected of them.

Upon request, the Office of Online and Distance Learning can import a useful template for organizing your course into your Moodle shell. Alternatively, feel free to organize your course as you see fit, however, always try to ask yourself, "If I were a student, would this layout make sense to me?"

We suggest using the following organizational techniques

  • Use labels in Moodle to create headers/subheaders within your weeks (e.g., "Resources" and "Assignments").
  • Include a weekly task list with objectives that outlines what students must do each week and what course objectives are being focused on each week.
  • Include time estimates for activities (either in the weekly task list or in the description of the assignment itself).
  • Use Canva (Tech Bites: Canva) to create appealing visuals for your course
  • Indent assignments and resources in Moodle where it makes sense.
  • Display one section at a time to prevent students from scrolling through previous weeks, which becomes cumbersome after a few weeks.

While transitioning to remote delivery, we need to continue to ensure equitable access to learning experiences for students.

While it is hard to ensure that everything you're creating and putting out is 100% accessible to everyone, it's important to be aware of the types of accommodations you may be expected to make and ways to prevent any issues from arising in the first place.

For a deeper understanding of accessibility, we recommend completing Mid's self-paced ADA 1.0 training course.

Accessibility quick tips

  • Above all else, have a plan! If a student tells you they're unable to access a document, how else can you provide them with the content?
  • For video or audio content, be sure to include captions or a transcript. YouTube auto-generates captions, which is a good start, but you'll want to review these to ensure that they make sense and to include punctuation.
  • Run Adobe's Accessibility Checker on PDFs you wish to use. PDFs can often cause issues for screenreaders.