Part 12: Spring 2020 – Remote Readiness Active Teaching Labs

228 Improving the Remote Student Experience (04.15.2020)

In this Lab, we continued our discussions around improving student experiences in remote learning.  Looking toward the end of the semester: What student feedback do you need about exams, final projects, personal concerns/issues? How will you gather that feedback? What options will be provided to students who may be facing barriers (Internet, personal concerns, other). What needs to be communicated to explain what will take place in the last few weeks? What resources will you  provide students to help them successfully complete your course?

5 Tips

  1. Communicate clearly, frequently. In asynchronous courses, even more so than synchronous ones, keeping remote students informed regarding expectations, content delivery, assessments, and feedback is essential. Be clear on what changes are coming and check your clarity with students (e.g. ask students, and give them a few points to share their understanding — see #5). Use your syllabus or course schedule as a primary communication tool, and continue to cultivate a sense of presence with students with announcements, check-ins, office hours, and the like.
  2. Convert synchronous activities to asynchronous when possible to minimize “stay-at-home” time conflicts, tech or bandwidth issues, or other difficulties around assignment due dates. Maintain consistency scheduling activities and assignments with a predictable course rhythm (due dates, grading, communication). Plan for student (and your own) technology issues.
  3. Provide multiple options for learner interactions — with materials, each other, and yourself. Be flexible to be accessible (e.g. allow text, video, audio; drop lowest grade). Offer multiple ways to access material (e.g. video + transcript/captioning). “Plus-one” options encourage thinking about learning barriers students face, and means to reduce or eliminate barriers.
  4. Chunk lectures into small (2-5-7 minute) pieces with active learning, application opportunities, and knowledge-checks between them. This is important in remote instruction because smaller chunks are easier to download and view for those with unreliable internet access.
  5. (Continue to) Ask your students! Remember that students did not sign up for an online course, and may be confused — but also too intimidated to bring up their concerns. 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.

Review this session’s activity sheet here. Join our Canvas course and follow the instructions at Find info from past Labs at


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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