Guiding Principles for Remote Teaching

Complete the course. Bates has a legal contract with our students – and an ethical obligation – to deliver courses to them. Every faculty member must complete every course they are teaching this semester.

Share ideas with each other. Department and program colleagues must meet to address remote teaching challenges. Creating solutions to problems specific to a particular discipline (e.g., large classes, labs, studio work) will be more efficient and better informed if colleagues work together, and we will avoid faculty individually reinventing the wheel.

Ensure access and inclusion. Teaching must be delivered in a manner that guarantees the greatest access to the course for all students. Faculty must consider the positions that students may occupy in remote locations, such as their access to the internet, access to broadband, times zones. Accommodations must be made to provide access for all students. Asynchronous classes may ensure the greatest inclusion.

Use what you know. In ramping up for remote teaching with very little lead time, faculty should rely on the technologies and strategies they know, and should not be expected to master new technologies. We are working with ILS to provide training on commonly used technologies.

Align teaching to students’ access to technology. Similarly, students must understand how to use the technology applied in course delivery, and faculty must ensure that all students have access to the technologies they are using. Lyceum is a good place to start, as well as common technologies to which students likely have access, such as YouTube, Google, Skype, FaceTime, and conference calling. If students have problems with the technology they will look first to the course instructor for support.

Return to your learning goals. Faculty should be guided in remote teaching by the learning goals of the course: What are the key learning goals? How can you meet those goals remotely in the remaining weeks of the semester? What must stay and what can go?

Articulate expectations for students. Faculty must be clear about expectations for attendance, online participation, assignments, final exams or projects, and grading. These expectations should be communicated to students in writing.

Assess student understanding. In a classroom, faculty can gauge, in real time, if students get it. Teaching remotely requires new methods for gauging student understanding of concepts. Short-answer essays, question boards, or Lyceum quizzes (graded or ungraded) can help faculty measure student comprehension.

Apply creativity and flexibility. In reviewing the syllabus for the remainder of the semester, faculty should think creatively about how course goals can be met in new ways. Consider how to deliver lectures, manage discussions, labs and studio content, undertake group work, student presentations, and provide feedback. Can you make quick videos? Provide more reading content accessible on Lyceum? Create forums or blogs as alternatives to discussions? 

Hold office hours. Faculty must be available for “office hours” – scheduled phone calls or FaceTime meetings with students who seek the kind of help they would look for in actual office hours. If this interaction takes place via email, faculty may establish times of day when they respond to email, or commit to responding to email within a specific timeframe.

Consider final exams. Final exams must be designed for remote learning, where students are not proctored. Final exams may need to be retooled (e.g., open-book exams) or alternatives to final exams developed (e.g., final reflective essay). 

Stay in touch. Regular communication of all sorts is essential. Students rely on seeing you several times per week. You are not physically present for your students, so being available in other ways shows your attentiveness and commitment to their success.

Practice compassion. We are in the midst of a global public health crisis and our students will be impacted in a variety of ways. Faculty must design remote teaching and advising in ways that provides the greatest assistance to students in a difficult and uncertain time.