UITL Series on Teaching Remotely

As Ohio State teaches remotely, the University Insitute for Teaching and Learning is available to help. For critical information to move forward quickly, access keepteaching.osu.edu. This series of informative articles, tip sheets, and peer-to-peer resources provide a deeper dive into specific pedagogical concerns or questions that may arise and reflect the work of UITL and UITL Alliance and partner experts.

In addition, Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government has been working to promote Carmen Common Sense, an award-winning initiative that highlights 10 traits that exist in strong Carmen courses. 

(Check back here regularly for new content.)


Basic considerations for teaching remotely:

  • Acknowledge the change of venue and be transparent with students about the changes you make in light of switching to remote teaching. Students will need reassurance that that they can successfully complete their work.
  • Adjust your expectations of the course and your students to fit the change of venue and teaching modality. 
  • Acknowledge the uncertainty of these changes and be honest about not being sure how the course will change.
  • In Teaching What You Don’t KnowTherese Huston emphasizes the mindset of “Let’s conquer this together.” Both students and faculty will be asked to make compromises throughout the rest of the semester, but we will all continue to learn. Often when we find ourselves in a more uncomfortable or uncertain place, we think more carefully about our choices and how we treat one another, which can greatly improve both our learning and our learning environment. 
  • In addition to “Let’s conquer this together,” Huston suggests faculty who have been successful in teaching in unfamiliar situations discovered:
    • “Uncertainty drives excellence”—often when we find ourselves in a more uncomfortable place, we think more carefully about our choices and how we treat one another, which can greatly improve both our learning and our learning environment, so let’s use the uncertainty to its best advantage.
    • “We all have something to learn”—in this situation, perhaps more explicitly than usual, you can make clear to students that you have expertise in your field but not necessarily in this digital form of delivery. 

What might your students need?

  • Run your plan by your students to ensure that they can continue to participate A few things to consider: Do they have WiFi to participate virtually? Are they in your same time zone?
  • Do students have necessary resources already with them during spring break? Does this mean you have to add resources to Carmen for those who do not have them off-campus?
  • Consider that students may be dealing with illness themselves or with family members. Be understanding and show leniency with due dates and/or reducing workload.
  • Encourage students to reach out to you about their needs. For example, some students may require different accommodations once a class moves online.
  • Make space for students to share their feelings about technology and the changes that are happening. “Digital nativity” is a myth, and some students may be more anxious about succeeding in the transition online than even you are as the instructor. Make your vulnerability a strength, and allow your students to have a space for feelings.

What do you and your instructional team need?

  • Continue to include your instructional team (TAs, graders, etc.) in your discussions and decisions about shifting your course online to ensure that they can successfully make the shift with you. Consider their accessibility, technology and accommodations as well.
  • How do you stay available to students outside of class? Can you move your office hours online? Can that move to on-demand outreach through texting, video, etc.?

What is my new teaching and learning space? 

In considering how to move your course online, consider answers to the following questions before engaging with technology:

  1. Is class time used for first exposure to content? How much time is used for students to work through applying the material with each other? How important is student-to-student interaction?  (Visit Keep Teaching for suggestions on how to move different class contexts into an online space.)
  2. How do you need to interact with your students, both on a group and individual level? In what ways does that need to happen? (Email, videochat, discussion, etc. Visit Keep Teaching for ideas on how to interact with students using available technology.)
  3. What are the ways in which you have been evaluating student learning? (Multiple choice, written, in-person event, group projects, etc.) Does any of that need to change in an online space?  

“Is…online teaching quality teaching? Hallmarks of quality—student effort, frequent and high-quality interaction, active learning, and so forth—appear to be quite similar across modalities. Empirical research on outcomes tends to favor online learning, with some studies even turning up substantial advantages, particularly for designs where online and face-to-face components complement one another…Empirical evidence suggests that the much-publicized concerns about cheating on online coursework may be substantially overblown. With all of this in mind, it makes sense to conclude that quality online learning experiences are possible and turn our attention back to maximizing that quality.” –Michelle D. Miller, Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology