The 3 Main Considerations When Getting Started
Remote teaching refers to providing your learners with distant education. While converting traditional teaching methodologies to ones that can be offered remotely, it is important to consider the program’s learning goals as well as the new context you and your students are going to work in. Types of activities you were used to for your student’s learning goals in the traditional context, may not fit the remote teaching situation.
In general, there are 3 main areas to reconsider when you are teaching remotely:
The overall program and its goals;
The communication and interaction that needs to take place;
The technical and didactical aspects of the different elements of the program.
The most important reflections to be made in these 3 areas will be addressed in this article. Remember that there is educational and technical support available at the central and faculty level and that you can reach out to them for support. Before you start teaching, we recommend you to take a look at this checklist.
The overall program and its goals
Before you start transferring to remote teaching, check the following points:
Consult your faculty coordinator or department to check if there are specific arrangements for how to continue your teaching remotely;
Set realistic goals for continuing your teaching. What are you able to achieve in this period and under these circumstances?;
Review the course program to decide on your options. Identify solutions for this temporary situation; you don’t have to stick to lectures and working groups;
Decide on how to set up the assessments and tests that are planned. Can you still use the format you planned? If not, what would be an alternative?;
Select tools and approaches familiar to you and your students. Rely on the tools and procedures provided by the university. Only use new tools when absolutely necessary to reduce possible confusion;
When available: use educational material that is already available. Pre-recorded lectures (web lectures) and publicly available video lectures (for example on YouTube, Coursera, and FutureLearn) can be quite useful;
Check with colleagues (from other faculties or universities) to share resources to reduce preparation time in this hectic situation;
Schedule enough time for preparation and testing. In this situation preparation will take up most of your time. It would be a waste if problems with the technical set-up will hinder your class.
Communication & interaction
In times of insecurity, communication is key. While you are working on redesigning the program and preparing for remote teaching, don’t forget to keep your students involved and up to date.
Communicate directly with your students. Even if you do not have a plan just yet, just let them know a plan is in the making. Give more information as your plan evolves;
Communicate about topics such as
Further announcements on the changes or program;
Where to find technical support if needed;
Don’t forget to manage expectations: what do you expect from the students and what can they expect from you? Student participation, motivation, concentration, communication, and deadlines may have to be reconsidered.
Didactical aspects of the program
Things to keep in mind while preparing yourself and your program for remote teaching:
What are the goals you want to achieve with your program or session?
What would your role be in a remote teaching setting?
Do you need to stick to the formats in the original program or are there other options?
How many students do you need to serve in total and can you serve at the same time?
On this website, we provide an overview of possible ways to directly replace teaching methods you are used to, like lectures, by online alternatives, as well as suggest possible new formats that may fit the remote teaching context better.
Most important considerations:
Make class time essential! This means that the time spent online is devoted to activities that can not be done alone. You can use the principles of Flipped Classroom to do so.
Focus and variation
Staying focused is a lot harder in an online environment than during a face-to-face lecture. Try to have some variation in your session every 4 to 5 minutes (e.g. using quizzes or a change of subject). For sessions with limited interaction (i.e. lectures), try to keep these short (max 10 min) or have your class read up about parts of the lecture themselves.
Learning gets more relevant when a clear link to the bigger picture is made. To make sure that students keep on track, make sure to refer to cases, examples and the course goals and objectives regularly.
Don’t make it too complex
When both you and your students are new to something, make sure not to make the situation more complex than needed. If it works, it works, even when it’s just a non-technical solution.
Expectations of an online classroom
Email your students about the subject that will be discussed, what literature you expect them to have read, if you expect them to prepare questions, and what time you expect them to be in the virtual classroom. Creating clarity ensures that students are more involved and actively participate. Start with a social check-in: have a chat if the group size allows.
Technical aspects of the program
Although there are a lot of great tools available, technology can be unstable, just like internet connections. Make sure that for important content or announcements there is also a “low-tech” solution available, such as an email or a pre-recorded clip.
Whereas preparation is half the work in setting up a successful (live) session, the other part is a thorough check of the technical set-up. Make sure to practice with the technology in a real setting and check the quality of audio and video.
Kaltura Live Room is a system that can do a lot but also demands a lot from your computer. Both from the teacher's computers, as well as the student's computer. Here are some technical tips to make the system itself work as well as possible, but also to make sure the students can see and hear you as well as possible.
Make sure to read the manual before you start, they are there for a reason! https://blogs.library.leiden.edu/fb-video/docs/manual-videoportal-university-leiden/14-kaltura-live-room/
Close as many other applications as possible and do not open too many tabs in the browser you are using. Browsers are memory-hungry and if your system does not have enough RAM, you may experience delays when opening some tabs.
Invest in sufficient working memory. Web applications and desktop applications that record multiple sources will demand more from your system. 8GB is the minimum you need for it to work. Don't forget to shut down and restart your computer regularly.
Check whether your computer meets the hardware requirements and use Chrome. - check your specifications at https://smart.newrow.com/room/testPage/ (These are the minimum specifications)
Use a wired internet connection instead of WiFi. If you don't have a wired connection yet, sit as close to your router as possible and ask roommates not to use the internet, Netflix or anything of the sorts. Reset your modem every morning.