NOTE: This article is intended for faculty in Champlain’s traditional campus-based programs who find themselves temporarily teaching remotely. It does not apply to Champlain College Online faculty, who should adhere to CCO practices.
In certain cases, it may be necessary for Champlain faculty to teach remotely (also referred to here as virtual teaching). Situations might include snow days, health isolation, campus closure, and other major issues. Please note that these options are available for un-anticipated situations, but are not elective substitutes for regular in-person meetings of on-campus classes under normal circumstances.
Key Elements of Remote Learning
Communicate Clearly with Students
Clear communication is essential in remote teaching. We advise not only consistent direct communication with students (via channels like Canvas announcements and email), but also setting up your course so expectations are obvious.
The Canvas Announcements tool is the best way to communicate time-sensitive information to your whole class. Posting an announcement sends a notification to all students enrolled in the course, and the announcement itself is archived on Canvas (meaning students will receive it as an email, but can find it again easily without searching their inboxes).
Canvas Inbox is a great way to communicate with individual students or small groups. They will receive an email notification, but can also access the message in the Inbox, meaning it is less likely to be lost in their email.
Learn about Announcements and Inbox communication versus email, including how to create an announcement.
Each class at Champlain also has an automatic Google Group that you can use to send email to the class or set up a group chat in Google Chat. Learn more in this video demonstration of using class Google Groups at Champlain.
You can communicate expectations and instructions clearly to students in the structure of your course, particularly in Canvas and your syllabus. If you set up a robust Canvas course before the semester starts, your students will already have easy access to much of the needed information. Some suggestions (starred items are required by the Academic Continuity Policy or course standards voted on by Faculty Senate):
- Post your syllabus in Canvas prior to the course start date *
Ensure your syllabus stays up-to-date if you revise it!
- Make sure your syllabus contains a clear course schedule
- Post all assignments with due dates in Canvas *
- Clearly communicate to students how they can contact you and make appointments *
- Ensure the Canvas Gradebook is set up correctly *
- Provide as many course materials as possible via Canvas or Library e-resources
- Use Modules to present course materials, to-dos, assignments, discussions, and other activities in a week-by-week or meeting-by-meeting format; the CLT provides a template to simplify creating modules
Build an Excellent Canvas Course
After 2020-2021’s remote learning, Champlain students were surveyed about how Canvas helped their learning. Over 85% of students reported that Canvas due dates, modules, the availability of content on Canvas, and an accurate, up-to-date gradebook had a positive impact on their learning. Faculty use of these tools increased during remote learning. Making sure you are using them during remote learning is a great way to ensure clear communication with students (as above) and provide a sense of stability and familiarity they can rely on.
First, make sure your course is meeting all required Canvas-related course standards: current syllabus is posted, gradebook is set up accurately and kept up to date, and assignments are created with due dates. To “level up” these requirements, create assignments as far in advance as you can (with point values and due dates) so students have accurate expectations of their workload. Whenever possible, take assignment submissions through Canvas to avoid logistical complications stemming from other submission methods.
Next, use other Canvas features to make your course easy to navigate and welcoming. Some options:
- Create weekly modules, and include all assignments, readings, links, discussions, or other items for that week in the module. Make sure the dates are in the module title.
- Use regular (but not too frequent) announcements to help students feel connected and current. Weekly or twice-weekly announcements are appropriate; more frequent announcements may feel overwhelming or confusing.
- Use media to make the Canvas space more interesting and personable. Try recording informal videos directly into Canvas to check in with students, periodically summarize the progress of the course, or (if you are remote at the beginning of the semester) introduce yourself.
Finally, check your course in Student View to make sure that students can actually see all the information and materials you’ve provided.
Hold Live Class Remotely
If you’d like to host an online meeting with your students to hold class or have students do online presentations synchronously, you have a few options, including Google Meet, InSpace, and Canvas Conferences/Big Blue Button. Visit our article on preparing for videoconference teaching, including choosing a platform. Google Meet is the recommended platform at Champlain.
Use Google Meet
- Add a meeting to your Google Calendar and invite all of your students
- In the meeting settings, Choose “Add Google Meet Videoconferencing”
- Students will get a link to join the Google Meet, and there is also a phone number that they can call into if they have limited internet access
Here’s a tutorial video on using Google Meet that demonstrates the late 2021 updates to the interface, including the Jamboard integration, breakout groups, polling, and Q&A. We also provide an article about using interactive Meet features.
The InSpace platform, developed at Champlain, creates a virtual space in which students can move around, easily transition from group work to all-class interaction, and engage more holistically than the traditional videoconference grid. It also has functions typical for videoconference platforms like screen-sharing, text chat, and breakout groups. InSpace has greatly increased the platform’s accessibility for users with disabilities.
Users need to go through a quick account set-up the first time they use InSpace. We recommend introducing students to InSpace in the last few minutes of a class meeting held on Google Meet so you can ensure everyone is able to join. Learn more about InSpace from their website.
Use the Big Blue Button/Conferences in Canvas
Canvas Conferences/Big Blue Button is not as robust as Google Meet, but it has the advantage of being embedded in Canvas. Check out our guidance on using Canvas Conferences.
Deliver Quality Content and Interaction
Develop a strategy for presenting, discussing, and practicing course material, and make sure your students understand what it is. Make sure to stress interactive learning activities. You can deliver content and facilitate activities synchronously (live) and/or asynchronously (learn about the difference).
Possible asynchronous strategies include:
- video lectures (made by you or quality third-party lecture videos)
- robust non-video lecture materials, such as slides with lecture notes
- readings/viewings/etc provided electronically
- practice and engagement opportunities using Canvas quizzes, publisher resources, online discussions, collaborative or creative exercises, and more
Possible synchronous/live strategies include:
- videoconference class sessions or guest speakers(see below)
- virtual live activities using videoconference breakout rooms and/or Google collaborative tools
When considering what your content will be and how you’ll deliver it, remember to think about how much work is appropriate for your students. Our article on course workloads and instructional time in remote learning will help you understand the requirements we must meet according to our accreditor, NECHE.
Foster Student Collaboration
Students value interaction with peers and each other, and it can be difficult to sustain those experiences during long-term remote learning. Canvas discussions provide a basic level of interaction, but robust collaboration requires other strategies. Some possibilities include:
- collaborative note-taking using Google Docs
- brainstorming and information-organizing activities using Google Jamboard (additional Jamboard tips by Kerry Noonan)
- small group activities during a live remote class session using virtual breakout rooms
- group projects — but remember that remote learning introduces logistical complications, and keeping projects low-stakes is helpful
During Covid-19 flex-hybrid learning, students reported feeling disconnected from peers and faculty. Community development in a remote class requires different strategies than in-person classroom community. Learn more about fostering virtual community.
Explore our many articles on remote/virtual learning, which cover videoconferencing strategies, community development, student experiences, equity and inclusion, and more!