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Pedagogical Considerations

Each class and each instructor is going to be a little different and have different needs.  In general, to promote student learning, we have to think about providing them with information, giving them opportunities to communicate with each other and with you about their learning, and providing chances to practice and receive feedback about their learning.  Here we provide some considerations for each of these topics in an online environment, as well as additional considerations for courses with TAs or with lab components. 

Providing students with information

About the course


  • This can be posted as a Word document on Bb Learn.


  • In Bb Learn, there is an Announcements section where you can create announcements.  When you create an announcement, there is an option to send a copy of the announcement by email.  This notifies students of the announcement.
  • If you choose to send an email correspondence to your class using your email program, you should also post this as an announcement to ensure all students have access to the information.

Synchronous instruction

What is this? 

  • This is when instructors and students meet and interact in real-time.

Why is this useful?

  • It allows for community building and can mimic an in-class experience.


  • Due to potential issues with technology, personal issues, or time zone differences, everyone affiliated with a class may not be able to meet at a synchronous time.

How do you do this?

  • Video conferencing tools (see:Technological Considerations Section) can be used to allow for synchronous lecture, class discussion or other class-wide interaction.  These can also be used for one-on-one instruction in real-time with students.
  • Discussion tools (see:Technological Considerations Section) can be used for synchronous office hours or synchronous class discussion.

Asynchronous instruction

What is this?

  • This is when instructors post materials and students interact with them at different times.

Why is this useful?

  • It can allow faculty to post and students to engage with the material at a time that works for their schedule.


  • Activities that are important for learning such as social interaction, community building, and timely answering of questions may be more challenging in an asynchronous environment.

How do you do this?

  • Video recording tools (see:Technological Considerations Section) can be used to record lectures to post for students to view at times that work for them.
  • You can annotate your slides instead of recording a video (see:Technological Considerations Section) to share information that you would have delivered in a lecture setting.
  • Discussion tools (see:Technological Considerations Section) can also be used in an asynchronous fashion to allow interaction between students and/or with students and instructor(s).


Encouraging communication to promote learning 


Why is this useful?

  • Providing opportunities for students to discuss what they are learning with each other is helpful in knowledge construction and thus, learning.
  • Discussions can allow students to ask questions about what they are learning and get these questions answered.

How do you do this?

  • Host a synchronous or asynchronous discussion using an online discussion tool. There are a variety of discussion tools that can be used for synchronous or asynchronous discussions with your class (see: Technological Considerations Section).
  • Host a synchronous discussion as part of a synchronous video conference (see: Technological Considerations Section). Zoom and other video conference tools have features to allow students to raise their hands to ask questions or contribute to class discussions.


Why is this useful?

  • There are many reasons why you might want to incorporate collaboration or allow students to share information with each other in your class.  For example: group projects, peer review, peer instruction, problem solving, or sharing resource or study guides.
  • Collaborative learning approaches are known to promote learning.

How do you do this?

  • If you have previously used collaboration or sharing in your course, the Technological Considerations Section has suggestions of tools that can be used for sharing and collaborating, which may be able to be used to adapt your previous approaches.
  • If you have never used collaboration or sharing in your course, but would like to try now, consider what elements of your course could benefit from collaborative learning.
    • Would collaboration help with understanding content?  Perhaps try setting up smaller discussion groups and allow students to collaborate on answering discussion questions you pose via a video conference tool or other resource such as Google Docs or Microsoft Teams.  Groups can then share the result of these collaborative discussions with you.
    • Would collaboration help with learning skills such as group work?  Setting up a collaborative group project is something that can be done in an online environment using some of the tools mentioned above.

Office Hours

Office hours are still a required element of courses, even though we have moved to remote learning for this term.

How do you do this? 

  • You could set up synchronous office hours using a video conference tool like Zoom (see:Technological Considerations Section). Set up a regular time, provide the Zoom link to students, and make yourself available via Zoom during that time window.  This could also be done using online discussion tools used synchronously.

Managing Individual Student Issues

Office hours are generally useful for answering questions that many students have, as opposed to dealing with individual student issues.  These may be addressed by email, as you may already be doing in a face-to-face course.These may also be addressed via an individual appointment by phone or by video conference (Zoom) if you prefer not to use your personal phone number.

Giving students feedback on their learning

Opportunities to practice and get feedback

  • In order to learn, students need opportunities to practice and work with concepts or skills that are being taught.  This could be tackled through activities such as: assignments/homework (i.e., problem sets, writing assignments, projects), synchronous “in-class” problem solving as individuals or in groups, quizzes/exams, performances, or discussions.
  • These opportunities for practice should include feedback so that students can make adjustments and progress in their learning.  Feedback could be provided in ways such as: peer review, verbal feedback, grades on assignments/quizzes/exams, or written suggestions.

Low-stakes assignments/activities

  • These are assignments or activities that do not have a high point value and thus do not have a major effect on a student’s final grade.
  • These types of assignments are usually used for formative assessment.  Formative assessment is providing feedback to students to help them improve their learning during the class.
  • Example low-stakes assignments/activities may include homework assignments, quizzes, group problem solving activities, drafts of writing assignments, etc.

High-stakes assignments

  • These are assignments or activities that typically have a high point value and therefore majorly affect a student’s final grade.
  • These types of assignments are often used for summative assessment.  Summative assessment is providing feedback to provide a “final” evaluation of student learning of particular concepts or skills gained in a course.
  • Example high-stakes assignments/activities may include presentations, projects, performances, exams, etc.

How can you incorporate this into an online environment?

As indicated throughout this section, there are many ways to provide students with the ability to practice what they are learning and to get feedback.  How you incorporate this into an online environment will really depend on which of these activities you choose to use. In the Technological Considerations Section, there are many tools that could be used to allow you to incorporate homework, quizzes, exams, and collaborative work into your course.  Performances and presentations could be recorded using video recording or video conferencing tools. Group projects can be conducted using collaborative tools.

Working with TAs

  • Understand that teaching online may be new to your TAs as well.  Share this guide with them so they can review tips and resources posted here and learn about online instruction.
  • TAs should (or may be required to) host office hours as well, so they should review the section on Office Hours for tips and suggestions.
  • TAs should be familiar with Blackboard Learn and should review the Drexel resources to help with this task.
  • TAs should be familiar with other technology resources you plan to use in the course.  Point them to the right guides or materials to help them familiarize themselves with the relevant technology you will be using in your course.
  • Regular meetings can help you to interface with your TAs and keep in touch regarding student issues, any adjustments that are needed for the course to promote student learning, discussing grades/course policies/activities, etc.
  • The way you use your TAs to support your course will depend on your departmental guidelines about TA work hours and teaching involvement.  Some example activities TAs may be involved in are similar to the types of activities they might be involved in with your face-to-face courses, such as: grading, contributing to class discussions, supporting group work, providing student feedback, leading recitation sessions.
  • If TAs will be leading recitation sessions, your guidance on how these sessions should be run will be essential.