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Remote Teaching at Drexel University

Teaching a fully online course requires careful planning and preparation. Transitioning to remote teaching in the current environment cannot replicate this type of careful advanced planning and should be viewed as an adaptive response.  

Not sure where to start? Complete this 15 question Remote Teaching Readiness Self Assessmento help you determine which of the available trainings and resources might be a good fit with you! Also, check out the Remote Teaching at Drexel SharePoint site for a robust list of resources and opportunities to support remote teaching at Drexel. 

This page also offers recommendations to help you Plan, Modify, and Implement remote teaching strategies that lead to the best possible learning for students across Drexel University.

 

1. PLAN

It’s essential to plan for increased communication within a remote teaching and learning space.

  • Adjust your expectations for students: You may need to adjust some of your expectations for students, including participation, engagement, grading, and deadlines. Students may encounter a variety of barriers (e.g. illness, power outage, slow internet connections, caring for family members) that could affect their ability to meet expectations. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Develop a communication plan: It’s important that you develop a robust communication plan. Clarify your modified expectations and course elements and communicate them to students. Tell students how they can contact you (email, phone, online office hours, Microsoft Teams, etc.), and how soon they can expect a reply from you. Use Drexel Blackboard Learn announcements to push out course-level communications.
  • Consider realistic goals for instruction: Be realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished in a remote environment. Refocus the course goals on realistically attainable objectives. Clarify what your expectations are for students’ efforts with regard to reading and homework. Be clear with students what you expect of them with regard to participation and online discussion.
  • Adjust your syllabus as needed: Clarify what policies (attendance, participation, grading, schedule) will need to be altered for the duration of the remote delivery. Provide as much detail as possible about changes. Do not expect students to participate in synchronous sessions at a time other than the scheduled class meeting time.

2. MODIFY

In moving a face-to-face course to a remote online space, modifications will be necessary. Drexel University provides a suite of technology tools to help modify your course accordingly. By using Drexel-supported technologies, you can ensure students have access to and support for the tools you are using to teach. Review a list of tools supported by Drexel’s Instructional Technology Team.

We recommend staying as flexible with your instruction as possible and be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, we urge you to stay focused on making sure the students are connecting with you, the course, and each other as much as possible. You will also want to keep a close eye on the course learning goals--while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course, you’re doing fine.

Accessibility Considerations

When changes to the learning environment occur, creating an inclusive and accessible learning experience for students with disabilities is a top priority. This includes providing accessible content and implementing student disability accommodations.
Faculty and students should be prepared to discuss accommodation needs that may arise. The Drexel University’s Disability Resources team will be available to answer questions about implementing accommodations.

3. IMPLEMENT

Your new plans and modifications should focus on six key consideration areas: Communication, Assessment, Assignments and Activities, Lecture, Participation & Engagement, and Library Resources.

Communication

As we transition to remote instruction, communicate with your students right away and often. Even if you don’t have a plan in place for your course, communicate with your students as soon as it’s clear that your course will need remote delivery. Be clear with them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for near term engagement with the course. Communication is best done with courses by using the announcements or email tools in Drexel Blackboard Learn.
Even if you have not yet finalized all the changes to your course, it is important to send a message to your students prior to April 6th so they know what they might expect. To get started, here is a sample email you might send:


Dear [insert course name here] students,

I’m writing to let you know that the University is implementing a remote teaching strategy in response to the novel coronavirus. What this means for you is that we will not be meeting in-person at our normal class location. Instead, we will meet online at the same time our class normally meets. However, I will be hosting the class through Zoom. I will also be using our Drexel Blackboard Learn course to deliver and collect materials for the class. To access the course, go to learn.drexel.edu. Once you log in with your UserID and password, you should see our course listed under “My Courses”.

Over the next few days, I will keep you informed about how our course experience will change. Know for now that we are planning to move forward with the course, and please be patient while we get things shifted for this new mode. I will be back in touch soon with more details.

Best,

[Insert your name]


Get Started with Drexel Blackboard Learn or register for upcoming workshops through career pathways on Drexel One.

Assessments and Assignments

Offering assessments in a remote setting will require some planning. For remote delivery, the primary concern should be assessing how well students have achieved the key learning objectives and determining what objectives are still unmet. It may be necessary to modify the nature of the assessment to allow for the more limited affordances of the remote environment.

Please be aware that students may be managing online assessments for the first time, and that may affect their performance. Try to avoid letting external factors (e.g. the use of new technology) factor in to the final grade on the assessments. 

  • Modify your hard-copy exams The primary tool you should use to deliver assessments is Learn. If you normally give paper exams, we recommend that you use Drexel Blackboard Learn’s Tests tool to create and administer them. The tool will allow most question types. Get Started with Drexel Blackboard Learn Tests.
  • Modify your submission strategies If you have students do presentations, group projects, or other performance-based assessments, then you may need to consider how those will be demonstrated. They can use the same tools to do this as you – Zoom or Collaborate – but they may need additional support to use these potentially new tools. Register for Drexel Blackboard Learn or Zoom training offered by the Instructional Technology Group.

Instructions for assignments can be posted within your Drexel Blackboard Learn course. Consider using the Drexel Blackboard Learn Assignment Tool to collect and store individual submissions and allow students to see that they submitted the assignment. Get Started with Drexel Blackboard Learn Assignments.

Lectures, Activities, and Discussions

There are a number of options available to you for holding online class meetings, giving lectures, facilitating class discussions, and assigning learning activities.

This blog post may help you get started thinking about which options could work for your course.

Register for Collaborate, Zoom, or other trainings offered by the Instructional Technology Group.

Library Resources

Many course readings may already be provided at Drexel University as digital content or in books that students have purchased. If you have any materials that are only available as physical hardcopies and which students do not already own, please contact the library in order to develop a digital strategy.



Additional Resources and Support

There are many groups and individuals across the University who are here to help and support you in your efforts to transition to remote-teaching. We recommend that you check with your department first to see if there are individuals within your school and college who have been designated to help.

Remote Teaching SharePoint Site

The remote teaching task force has put together several resources and recommendations for teaching remotely. These can be found on the Remote Teaching at Drexel SharePoint site

Technology Training and Support

For questions or support with instructional technology we recommend that you email itg@drexel.edu. Additional technology training sessions will continue to be made available on the Instructional Technology Group’s website. For additional help transitioning to remote-teaching check out the ITG COVID-19 Prep Page.

Zoom also runs virtual live training multiple times a day. For more tutorials about using Zoom, visit https://support.zoom.us.

Peer2Peer Network

The Peer2Peer Support Network includes faculty across the university who have volunteered to provide support to their colleagues teaching remotely. This group offers 1:1 faculty support with teaching and learning technologies from a faculty perspective. Faculty can make a request for support with a specific technology tool and will then be paired with a faculty colleague who has expertise with that technology. Faculty seeking general teaching support will also be paired with a colleague who can help them identify resources and ways to get started teaching remotely. To take advantage of this opportunity complete the online request form.

Remote Course Facilitators

The Graduate College has trained a large number of graduate students who are willing to serve as remote course facilitators. Remote Course Facilitators can help faculty manage several functions during synchronous class meetings such as monitoring the chat box, managing the waiting room, or creating and checking in with breakout rooms. Learn more about the RCF program on the Graduate College's site or submit a request for a fall remote course facilitator.

CASTLE Faculty Fellows

CASTLE has six faculty serving as CASTLE Faculty Fellows this term. These Fellows support Drexel faculty who teach undergraduate STEM courses by answering questions they have about implementing effective online/remote teaching and serving as a sounding board for faculty who want advice about an approach they would like to try in their classroom. Visit CASTLE's Faculty Fellows site for more information.

Instructional Design and Multimedia Services (IDMS)

IDMS works one-on-one with faculty developing online courses at Drexel University. IDMS can provide consultations to ensure sound design (alignment of learning objectives, assignments, and assessments), best practices for video/audio setup for remote teaching, or general review and feedback on a course. Contact the Instructional Multimedia & Design Services (IDMS) team to learn more about how an Instructional Designer can support you.

Online Learning Council Professional Development Courses

In addition to supporting emergency remote instruction, the Online Learning Council provides extensive and in-depth training in online pedagogy, course design and course review via professional development courses offered each term: The Essentials of Online Teaching, Applying the Quality Matters Rubric, and Advanced Pedagogy and Instructional Design. Over 200 Drexel faculty, staff and graduate students have been trained since the fall of 2018. Check out a list of upcoming OLC Fellow-facilitated professional development courses including dates and registration information. 

CASTLE Remote-Teaching Resources

CASTLE has compiled a list of helpful articles and websites with additional tips and suggestions for remote teaching in emergency situations.  

Coronavirus Information

Details on all the precautionary measures enacted thus far and plans for the fall term can be found on the Drexel coronavirus website.

Part of this work has been borrowed and revised from Michigan State University and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.