Preparing to Teach Online
Keep things simple and focus on your top priorities. Accept that you and your students might not be able to cover everything you had planned previously. Covering content using remote instruction will take longer than it would in a live course.
- Create a syllabus with clear learning outcomes that are aligned with major course assessments, and with section (if applicable).
- Use a planning grid to prioritize and structure your goals for each week.
- Focus on 1-2 main learning goals or objectives per week.
- List the content (lectures, readings, etc.) related to these.
- State 2-3 things students must know how to do to engage with material that you can assess.
- What should they take away that week?
We recommend making as much content as possible asynchronous because either you, your students, or the campus might not have reliable high-speed internet at all times. In addition, with so many things in flux, attending lectures at a specific time without distractions might be more challenging for some of your students (or you!). You can record videos using GauchoCast. In addition to or instead of viewing lectures, you can have students complete readings and forum posts, listen to podcasts, write response papers - in other words, do all the things you probably already have them do!
To guide your planning, think about the following questions:
- What can students learn and do on their own (readings, videos, etc.)?
- What part of your lessons are one-way delivery (explanations, stories, etc.)?
- What activities require interaction but not in real-time (low-stakes quizzes, writing assignments, etc.)?
Useful pointers on asynchronous content:
- You can record and upload lectures using GauchoCast/Panopto (for training follow the self-guided GauchoCast tutorial and/or request 1-1 training from the helpdesk)
- Keep videos short (5-15 minutes) and intersperse them with activities! If you need to cover a lot of ground, try to break it down into a series of short videos.
- For a wealth of ideas on asynchronous activities, see this Online Teaching Infographic.
You have allotted days/times for your courses and sections. Think carefully about what types of interactions are most fruitful, and consider shortening your “live” sessions since you will be complementing it with asynchronous content. Use Zoom for live video.
Useful pointers on synchronous content:
- To get started, complete the self-guided tutorial for Zoom at UCSB.
- To facilitate small-group student discussions, use Zoom’s Breakout Rooms to split the class into groups.
- If you will be speaking to a larger group, mute all participant mics to eliminate background noise or distractions.
- Have students use the “hand-raise” button or the chat to signal they have a question. If you have a TA, have them monitor for questions while you talk.
- You can also use Zoom to hold office hours.
- You can closed caption “in real-time” by using Google Slides.
- You can record a Zoom session, but you need to notify your students beforehand and provide the option to not be recorded (by them muting their mic and turning off their video).
- Do not share your Zoom session URLs in open forums - post them on GauchoSpace or via email instead. There have been reports of “trolls” showing up in Zoom sessions. See advice on securing Zoom meetings.
To help you and your students navigate a new way of teaching and learning, decide on and stick to a weekly pattern: Should reading responses be posted by every Thursday? Will there be a quiz due each Wednesday? Here is a 3 minute video to help you create a weekly pattern.
Useful pointers on patterns:
- You can duplicate weeks on GauchoSpace and then simply update the details.
- Name things clearly and order them intuitively.
- Make sure file names match the terms you use in your syllabus and elsewhere.
- Provide video lengths and page counts so students can plan accordingly.
- Provide summaries like “By Monday March 23rd, watch videos 1-3 and complete the quiz.” This way students can feel confident they haven’t missed any required tasks or content.
The biggest reason for student attrition in online courses is students not feeling a sense of belonging or social connection. You can change that! Create a community where students are talking to each other and see you as a human being.
Useful pointers on building community:
- Use a Nectir chat room so students can ask each other questions, study together, etc. (Nectir User Guide.)
- Add a “Questions about the class” Q2A forum on GauchoSpace where you can address students’ top questions.
- Use conversational language (I, you, we) in your materials.
- Post a bio with a friendly or goofy picture.
- Use Zoom breakout rooms for small-group student discussions.
- If you feel awkward talking at a monitor, record lectures with a friend or pet behind the camera.
Useful pointers on assessments:
- Make the assessments meaningful to students; avoid assigning (and grading) busy work.
- Structure peer reviewed writing with Write-Learn/Eli Review (complete self-guided tour on EliReview - requires access to GauchoSpace).
- Build quizzes on GauchoSpace.
- See Indiana University Bloomington’s list of alternatives to traditional exams and papers for ideas.
How to Create a Weekly Pattern
Want to know “What works” for online teaching?
As you design your remote course, use this Checklist for Remote Instruction to help you provide pedagogical and technological equity and access for your students. Watch videos from UCSB Instructors and online teaching experts about what works in their online classes!
Join the Preparing to Teach Online GauchoSpace Site and KeepTeaching Nectir channel
Join the Preparing to Teaching Online site in GauchoSpace and KeepTeaching Nectir channel for tips, tutorials, details and ideas from UCSB professors and TAs (UCSB access only). We also created a site for instructors who want a deeper dive into reimagining their courses for now and the future. Delve into the world of meaningful course assessments, inclusive practices, community building online, and integrating research opportunities for students. Join the public RISE Institute site (UCSB access only) for access to all of those materials.
Equity and Access Considerations
Technologies that require high bandwidth, especially those that are “high immediacy,” may be difficult for students to access. Technologies that require low bandwidth will be more accessible to a greater number of students. Click Here for a high resolution version of the graphic below.
EVC’s Communications to Campus Regarding Academic Affairs (updated daily)
Chancellor’s Communications to Campus (updated daily)