Spring 2021 Tips

Quick Tips to Launch Your In-person (IP/IR) Class Remotely

As our Carolina community continues to be impacted by the pandemic, some instructors who chose to teach Modes 1 or 2 of an in-person, on-campus (IP) or in-person with remote students (IR) course may need to adjust their course plans in order to begin the term remotely. We have numerous resources on the Keep Teaching website and you can submit questions in the onyen-protected Help Forum. Also, here are a few quick tips and ideas to help with this shift and facilitate a smooth return to in-person instruction.

Shift the Course Schedule to Frontload Remote-friendly Content

Review the course learning objectives and schedule to determine if the sequence of topics, readings, and assignments can be reorganized to more effectively accommodate a remote start. Possible Strategies:

  • Move lecture- and reading-heavy content to the early weeks of the course.

  • Use the Lessons and Checklist tools in Sakai to help students stay organized and on track.

  • In courses that rely on physical campus materials (labs, studios, etc.), adjust remote work to focus on orientations, skill building, or background knowledge assessments.

  • Tap into other campus resources (Library, Writing Center, etc.) in the first few weeks.

  • Focus on building rapport and community while students are limited to participating remotely.

  • In courses that rely on physical campus materials (labs, studios, etc.), adjust remote work to focus on orientations, skill building, or background knowledge assessments.

Offer Flexible Synchronous and Asynchronous Options for Student Participation

Consider employing a variety of active learning strategies in the synchronous classes offered to replace in-person sessions. For students who miss class due to sickness, quarantine, or internet problems, choose asynchronous activities to help students achieve course goals. Several examples of synchronous and asynchronous activities are posted on the Keep Teaching website in Previously Recorded Training videos, in the Implementation Guides for Modes of Teaching. Possible Strategies:

  • Set clear expectations on student attendance and participation and how that will be assessed.

  • Choose low-stakes activities, quizzes, and/or polling to motivate students and encourage participation.

  • Divide large assignments into smaller chunks (ex., convert a research paper into: choose a topic and bibliography, outline of argument, draft 1 for peer review, and final paper submission).

  • Identify ways to provide early feedback to students on how they are performing.

  • Adjust the overall grading scale to align with any revisions you make.

  • Zoom offers several tools in Breakout rooms (whiteboard, annotation, etc.) to encourage active learning and to capture any individual or small group work.

  • Some faculty use Google docs, spreadsheets, or Jamboard to capture student work. See examples faculty have shared in the CFE Remote Teaching Field Notes.

Focus on Building an Inclusive Class Community and Getting Acquainted

Acknowledge with students that the course cannot be taught as originally planned but reassure them that you have chosen specific activities to ensure they can learn and succeed in the course. Inform them of your expectations on how they can participate remotely and reaffirm that there are ways to engage with course materials, with you, and with one another until you can meet in-person. Possible Strategies:

  • Schedule individual “getting to know you” remote sessions with students.

  • Choose group activities or Zoom breakouts as meaningful icebreakers and to build community.

  • Encourage students to arrive 10-15 minutes early and/or to stay 10-15 minutes after virtual class sessions to foster informal discussion or to answer questions.

  • Use virtual office hours to encourage open communication.

  • Reflect on your remote teaching in relation to ways to be more inclusive in teaching with Zoom.

Create a Clear and Consistent Plan for Ongoing Communication with Students

Establish strategies for communicating course information and any changes early and regularly to your students. There are several channels for regular communication, but it will help to choose one primary method on which students can rely. Regular communication can build rapport and community, keep students updated on course plans, motivate students, and help remote students submit assignments and course work on time. Clearly outline your expectations for instructor-to-student and student-to-student communication.Possible Strategies:

  • Create an introduction video and explain course Sakai navigation and basic information.

  • Send weekly overview emails.

  • Post daily Sakai announcements or Discussion Forum threads.

  • Maintain one syllabus online that can be updated and shared with students (in Google, Microsoft Teams, etc.).

  • Use Poll Everywhere or Zoom polls to gather and/or share information with students.

Ensure Student Access to Course Materials and Resources

Double-check that students will be able to access all relevant course materials remotely in a timely manner since there may be delays in receiving textbooks and/or availability of other resources.Possible Strategies:

  • Make a digital copy and upload early readings as needed within Fair Use guidelines. There are smartphone apps that can be used for scanning.

  • Locate and use Open Educational resources; check with your Subject Librarian. UNC System Office offers a new series of Digital Course Enhancement Collections for high enrollment courses.

  • Be flexible with editions and/or contact the publisher.

  • Use the UNC Libraries Remote Services for Instructors for Course Reserves and other resources.

Empower Teaching Assistants (TAs) or Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) as Instructional Partners

If you work with any TAs or ULAs, discuss any course changes and needs in advance and identify tasks where they can be most helpful to you and your students. Be sure to communicate early and regularly with your TAs or ULAs, and clarify any roles and responsibilities during the remote period and when class returns to an in-person format. Possible Strategies:

  • Use TAs or ULAs to monitor Chat in Zoom meetings.

  • Assign TAs or ULAs to check in on students and/or groups.

  • Ask TAs or ULAs to review student discussion Forum posts or assignments.

  • Allow TAs or ULAs to create Poll Everywhere or Zoom polls.

  • Have TAs or ULAs grade using rubrics you develop or generate together.

Introduce Students to Campus Resources

Carolina has many resources available to you and your students. Review the resources available from the University Libraries, the Center for Student Success & Academic Counseling (Learning Center, Peer Mentoring Programs, Writing Center), Accessibility Resources & Services, and/or Department or School resources. Many of these have specific resources available to you as an instructor. The Library has Subject Librarians for each Department, as well as Remote Services for Instructors to manage course reserves, to help students access materials, to stream videos for classroom use, and more. University Career Services can help students with career planning, graduate school exploration, internship/job search, and tips for employer engagement during COVID.Possible Strategies:

Adjust Assignments and Grading Strategies

Consider a variety of ways to provide frequent and constructive feedback while students are remote. Early feedback can keep students motivated and on track, ensure they are clear on their progress, and may help identify whether a student should seek additional help. If remote teaching continues, consider alternate exam formats. Possible Strategies:

  • Offer low-stakes activities, quizzes, and/or polling to advance and assess student learning (not busy work)

  • Divide large assignments into smaller chunks (ex., convert a research paper into a ‘choose a topic and bibliography’, outline of argument, draft 1 with possible peer review, and final paper submission)

  • Use VoiceThread to provide verbal feedback which can provide a supportive tone missing in written feedback

  • Identify relevant course-related or campus resources if students need help

  • Carolina has very limited proctoring options for remote exams, so we encourage creativity in how you conduct exams. Assume that remote students have open access to resources, and provide challenging but specific exam questions to assess learning in your course. Allow extra time due to the variety of remote student situations or challenges.

  • Consider a remote maker project to support student engagement and active learning – learn more on BeAM’s Remote Learning page.