Tips for Success

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Remote teaching and learning at the University of Guelph provides opportunities to keep learning on track by utilizing various forms of educational technologies.

Whether you are teaching or learning, please review the list of helpful tips below so you may be successful in this learning environment.

1. Don't try to replicate online what's normally done in face-to-face settings.

The number one mistake for instructors who don't have a lot of experience with remote teaching, is to take what they normally do in the face-to-face classroom and move it online. But some activities don’t transfer well, especially those that require a lot of quick back and forth communication.

There can be a long delay between online communications. Even if an instructor uses synchronous communications, remote teaching and learning tends to be very text-heavy and typing-intensive; typing takes much longer than speaking.

2. Be prepared for some extra work.

This is true for both instructors and students. It takes longer to type than speak and there is often a lot of extra reading in remote learning. This can make it feel like there is a lot of information in remote settings. Reading generally takes more effort and cognitive load than listening, so there’s a risk of students feeling overloaded. 

3. Be prepared technologically.

Instructors should involve OpenEd contacts early in the planning stages of a course, particularly for courses with many different components using a variety of technologies. Both instructors and students need the right equipment and training to use technologies. They should also be aware of tool-specific needs—for instance, "how to" video messages in CourseLink or audacity for audio recordings, having a computer that can handle the course activities, etc.

4. Take full advantage of University teaching and learning resources. 

There is no need to work in a bubble and wait until frustration sets in. OpenEd has support staff, webinars, and other resources are available to instructors. There is also support for students online on the Remote Teaching & Learning website.

5. Be open-minded; remote teaching and learning isn’t for everyone. 

It is important to be comfortable with the idea of teaching or learning remotely. A sense of social presence online is very different than in a face-to-face situation. There are both positive and negative aspects to this. On a positive note, online, visual barriers are eliminated that normally hinder some individuals from participating; but for some, it might be uncomfortable and isolating (depending on how a course is set up and what types of interactions are planned). Behaviour and remote interactions are simply different; for example, instructors who use pre-recorded lectures can find it strange teaching an audience that is not really there…yet.

For students: When learning remotely, there's usually time to think about what to say before saying it. Education research shows that students often don't feel as shy online as they do in face-to-face classes.

6. Be organized and prepared to participate frequently.

For students: Procrastinating in a remote course is the perfect recipe for feeling overloaded. Learning remotely requires good time management and self-discipline for choosing when to participate.

Instructors should be prepared to support students and reply within a reasonable time. Since students don't often work in remote courses at the same time, instructors might find themselves checking in frequently to meet the needs of various students, responding to student enquiries at various times (rather than in one scheduled class).

7. Be a good writer. 

Instructors need to be clear with how they communicate to remote students. There is a lot that can be taken for granted in face-to-face classes.

For students: Being self-motivated and self-disciplined to log in frequently is very important for contributing and keeping up with the flow of remote discussions; it takes more effort than a face-to-face class. Effective writing and time management are very important skills for students to succeed in remote learning.

8. Have a good "road map." 

For instructors: It is important to share a map of the course so that students know where to find course materials, when and how assignments are to be submitted, as well as other course expectations.

For students: It's important to have the road map or course syllabus close at hand (and review it often) so that they know how the course unfolds, where course items are located, what and when course activities need to be done, etc.

9. Set clear expectations for student participation. 

Instructors should set clear expectations of how, when, and how often students should participate. Students need to understand how participation will be assessed as part of the curriculum.

10. Eliminate distractions when working remotely.

It is very easy to be distracted online when there are so many other tools and devices nearby, tempting one to either interrupt work or to multitask. Turn off phones, shut down email and social networking tools so that instructors and students can focus on teaching and learning.

Also, for instructors, there is nothing more frustrating than having a phone ring while recording a lecture to post online, and thus having to re-record it.