Part 12: Spring 2020 – Remote Readiness Active Teaching Labs

223 Improving the remote student experience (03.31.2020)

In this Lab, discussed challenges and solutions in engaging student experiences in remote learning. View the activity sheet here. We raised questions such as: How can we check in with students and get their feedback? How do we help reduce their (and our?) stress and anxiety? What can we do to help students with low bandwidth and technology access? How might the rhythm of our course change with the remote environment?  What similar questions do you have?

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Communicate with your students frequently. Communication with students is essential. Informing them that changes are coming and more details will be shared soon. Carefully think through how you will maintain regular communication with your students regarding expectations, content delivery, assessments, and feedback. Use your syllabus as a primary communication tool, and continue to cultivate a sense of presence with students as times goes on.
  2. Consider converting synchronous activities to asynchronous activities to avoid potential conflicts or difficulties around assignment due dates. If possible, try to maintain some consistency when scheduling activities and assignments  (a course rhythm that is predictable – due dates, grading, communication). Also, have a plan for when technology is not working or students do not have access to the Internet or have low-bandwidth issues.
  3. Provide more than one option: For every learner interaction — with the materials, with each other, and with the instructor — provide one more way for interaction to happen and be flexible to be accessible (i.e. allow text, video, audio; drop lowest grade) and provide one more way to access the material (i.e. video + transcript/captioning). “Plus-one” options encourage thinking about what barriers to learning students are facing, and how we can reduce or eliminate those barriers.
  4. Create small chunks: breaking lectures into 5-7 minute sections with active learning, application opportunities, and knowledge checks between them has long been suggested in face-to-face teaching because of the benefits to learning. For remote teaching, it’s even more important because smaller chunks are easier to download and view for those with unreliable internet access.
  5. (Continue to) Ask your students! The transition to online modalities might be as new (and intimidating) for you as it is for them — remember, they did not initially sign up for an online course. Consider graded anonymous surveys to collect feedback: give a few points for filling out a reflection survey at the end of each week. Canvas tracks completion points but keeps names disassociated from answers, so students feel free to be more honest.

For digital copies of the activity sheets with active links and access to session notes (at bottom), join our Canvas course and follow the instructions at Find info from past Labs at

The Remote Readiness Active Teaching Labs are a partnership between DoIT-Academic Technology and the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each 90-minute session is offered from 10am-11:30am through Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and is facilitated by a team composed of staff from both DoIT-Academic Technology and the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reminder: Your first stop for questions and support is to e-mail:


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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