Teaching remotely isn’t the same as teaching face-to-face. Remote teaching requires a combination of technical skills and cognitive flexibility to translate your in-person instruction online. Once you gain familiarity with this new medium, teaching remotely will present a slew of advantages that can produce an engaging, interactive, and effective learning experience.
Below you can review the technical basics needed to host a remote teaching session, as well as a broad overview of the best practices of course design.
Prepare a teaching space that allows you to feel comfortable and is unique to you. It may be worthwhile to invest in a workspace that makes your teaching and research remote as comfortable and efficient as teaching in person.
Please consider the following pointers as you set up your teaching space for the year:
- A Dual Monitor – Setting up a second display monitor will provide the ability to present content and view up to 49 participants in gallery view simultaneously.
- Lighting – Make sure your face is well lit and avoid back light and overhead lighting.
- Backgrounds – Avoid busy backgrounds, and consider using a virtual background instead.
- Camera /Webcam – Position your camera at eye level to make ‘eye contact’ with your audience to allow for a more natural viewpoint of their instructor.
- Audio Quality – Consider a headset with microphone to help isolate the instructor’s voice and provides participant privacy in a shared space during discussions. You may also want to invest in a USB mic to record asynchronous content.
- Home Network – Your home network connection matters! Zoom requires a minimum bandwidth of 600kbps and recommends at least1.5 Mbps. But we find 20 Mbps and higher to be better. Run a Speedtest to check your upload/ download speeds.The better your students can see and hear you, the easier it is for them to connect and engage with the material in your course. Simple, achievable visual and audio configurations will enhance your pedagogy and media production.
It likely won’t be a 1-to-1 transition when making the leap from in-person to remote teaching. In this section, we encourage you to think about redesigning your remote course to better suit the online environment and will inevitably improve the quality and outcome of your teaching.
Below, we have broken down course design into these 5 steps:
What is the Goal?
What do I want my students to know as a result of my course? What behavioral changes do I want to observe in my students?) When you begin with the end in mind, you can be flexible with the way the course is being delivered.
What Pedagogy Is Most Effective?
Utilize best practices of teaching (known as pedagogies) in your classrooms. Students succeed in classes optimized to best present the curriculum.
What method of teaching would work best on my students? Is my class scaffolded (learning is gradual with a lot of reviews)? Does the class facilitate student participation and engagement (‘action learning’)? Is the learning situated within students background knowledge (‘contextualized’)? Is the class project-based/ problem-based?
What is the Final Assessment?
Next, how can you assess students understanding of their material most effectively? Often referred to as ‘capstones,’ it is a good idea to think about the final large assessment as the pan-ultimate goal you want your students to achieve, and structure your class time around the capstone.
Having frequent low-stakes assessments distributed over the course of the semester is also an effective way for students to engage in learning.
What Content Should I Use?
Curate your content with readings, worksheets, problem sets, field trips, guest speakers, and the like. A helpful way to think about organizing your content is outlining your class content into themes or modules.
Think about building modules that build up to your final learning goal for your students.
What Feedback Can I Provide?
What kind of feedback would be most helpful to students as they progress towards mastery of your course material? Formative and summative feedbacks allows students to reflect upon their learning, making room and space to grow and improve.
How often can you provide feedback?
How can you grade student work fairly? (Particularly important when grading projects that involved creativity and design.)
Additional Resources to Consider when Teaching Remotely
When building your course, it is advisable to build with accessibility in mind. If you understand the principles of accessible web practices and know who to apply them as you build your course, not after, you will save yourself hours of work by avoiding accessibility remediation. For example, PDFs that are scanned as images may be readable for sighted students but would not be useful to students who depend on a screen reader for their content. Having to remediate a slide deck or PDF that is a scanned image can take hours. It’s better to avoid that in the first place. Luckily there are many resources at Berkeley that will help to ensure that your online course and your content is accessible.
- Digital Learning Services Accessibility Hub
- Intro to Course Accessibility
- Using the Ally Tool in bCourses
- Are You an Inclusive Instructor? Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning
- Culturally Relevant Teaching Gloria Ladson-Billings
- Online Equity Rubric, Peralta Community College District
Incorporate Universal Design for Learning
Popularly known as UDL, Universal Design for Learning is a design framework that has been adapted to teaching and course design. When followed, the principles in UDL will ensure that your teaching is inclusive of all learners’ abilities and backgrounds. Yes, accessibility will fall within UDL, but UDL can also encompass equitable learning environments, for example. Today, students are forced to learn in situations that may not be optimal, whether they are in difficult domestic situations, do not have access to the proper technology, or are under considerable stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By following some of the guidelines in the UDL framework, you will be creating a more equitable learning experience for your students.
Not all students may be equipped with the technological gadgets needed for a seamless transition to remote learning. It is essential to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment where all students can learn.
UC Berkeley is committed to providing high quality education to our diverse background of students in equitable and inclusive ways.
Here is how you may ensure equity and inclusion in your remote teaching:
- Conduct a pre-class survey.
In addition to getting to know more about your student’s educational background, prior knowledge and skills, and business experience you may want to survey students about the technological gadgets they may be familiar with using, and if there may experience barriers to learning remotely.
- Plan for remote teaching aligned with technological tools available for students.
Please sign up for a consult with us to figure which tools may be the most appropriate for your students. We can assist you in providing material to make your classroom technologically inclusive and equitable for all students.
- Adopt inclusion and equity as a pedagogical mindset.
Let what you’ve learned about your students inform your pedagogical decisions and actions, ask yourself if it is inclusive of all your students and their needs. Include a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement in your syllabus to communicate your goals to students.