Pivoting to Remote? Things to Consider

Important! If you have not taught remotely at Champlain before, please contact the CLT right away to schedule a 1:1 meeting. Email us at clt@champlain.edu and note that you are new to remote teaching at Champlain so we can prioritize you. 

While remote learning is not a new thing for many of us (in fact, you may be thinking “here we go again!”), you may want to ask yourself the following questions to make sure you’ve accounted for the basics. We have a more in-depth article about getting started with remote learning that may benefit those who have not taught remotely before.

What platform(s) are you going to use?

  • Canvas (required; see below)
  • Virtual synchronous (ie, videoconferencing) platform: Google Meet or InSpace
    Important! Zoom is not available as it was in 2020-2021; consult your Dean if Meet or InSpace will not work for you. Google Meet has changed the layout and look of some features, so you may want to look at this updated demonstration video.
  • Collaboration tools: we encourage starting with options in Google Suite (such as Docs and Jamboard) and considering social annotation tools (like Perusall) for collaborative reading
  • Other tool(s) as appropriate for your specific class

Remember, more platforms is not necessarily better–using too many platforms creates work for students and teachers who have to learn and manage them.

Is your Canvas course ready to go?

Last year, students consistently reported that strong use of Canvas made a huge difference in their remote and hybrid learning experiences. Your Canvas course must contain:

  • Syllabus
  • Accurate gradebook (updated within a reasonable time after students submit an assignment)
  • Assignments, at least 48 hours in advance of the due date

We strongly advise you to also use the following in Canvas:

  • Announcements for communicating with the whole class
  • Inbox for easily-organized communication with individuals or small groups of students
  • Creating all assignments further in advance with due dates (students’ #1 request!)
  • Modules to organize materials by week

See our guide to Canvas best practices.

How will you provide the appropriate amount of instructional time?

Instructional time – the time you would normally spend in the classroom each week or the number of credit hours – must be equivalent to an in-person class. Champlain’s policy to meet our accreditation requirements is that each credit hour equals one hour of interactive “classroom” time and approximately two hours of homework.  

Activities that substitute for classroom time may include live virtual class time, small group meetings, asynchronous remote interactive work (collaborations, discussion forums, etc), recorded lectures you would otherwise give in class, or virtual labs. Plan a strategy that fits your content, outcomes, and credit hours. Learn more about estimating instructional time equivalents.

Have you contacted your students?

Contact your students as soon as possible to give them clear and accurate information about what will be expected of them during remote learning. On what platform will you meet? Confirm that virtual meetings will be held at your regularly scheduled time. What are the participation requirements? Is there regular (e.g., weekly) asynchronous interaction like discussion forums or collaborative reading that they must complete? What should they do if they have technical issues like poor internet or a broken computer?

Before the semester starts, you can get your roster through WebAdvisor to email your students, or you can use your class’s Google Group (find your class group here). Once the semester has started, we recommend using a Canvas Announcement to keep students updated because it will stay easy to find in your Canvas course. We strongly advise updating your syllabus and re-posting the new version in Canvas so changes to policies and schedule are clear. You should also update any Canvas due dates and assignments that have been changed.

Do you need to change your course policies?

Remote teaching often works best with different expectations about attendance, participation, due dates, and conduct. Flexibility is also very important in our current situation, in which students may become ill and have to isolate even after in-person classes resume. Consider whether you need to change any of your existing policies and notify your students accordingly.

Do you need to change your class schedule or plans?

While we plan to be remote for a short time, if the early part of your course involves significant in-person activities (like field trips, service projects, guest speakers, performances, and so on), go ahead and start making alternative plans. This is particularly important if in-person activities are an integral part of major graded assignments, because students may start worrying earlier than you think. Start developing a backup plan, and keep your students updated on it as needed. 

How will you help your students engage?

Spend some time thinking about how you will foster interaction and community in your class. Many faculty found that breakout rooms were essential for this and students felt more engaged. Polling can also help when cameras are off. Low-stakes collaborative activities and assignments (in-class and as homework) using tools like Docs or Jamboard provide a focus for interaction.

Do you need help?

Here’s who to go to:

Champlain policies relevant to remote learning: Academic Affairs resources on the Course Standards and Academic Continuity

More Flex-Hybrid and Remote
Canvas and First Week Tips from New Faculty Orientation
Using Jamboard – A Faculty Story