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Remote Teaching - Strategies

Teaching during times of disruption requires creative and flexible thinking about how to support students in achieving essential core course learning objectives. As you make plans for teaching your class in a remote or online learning environment, focus on what tasks you are trying to accomplish: 

Taking Classroom Activities Online

Please note that when preparing a full online class, what's outlined below does not represent a recommended strategy for comprehensive course design. Online offers different opportunities for teaching and learning, inviting a rethinking of your instructional approach. However, in a crisis where there is little time for redesign, choosing approaches such as those below is likely the clearest path to instructional continuity through remote instruction. Above all, keep it simple for yourself and your students. Have compassion and flexibility as you and your students work through this.

Remote Instruction Alternatives to In-Class Activities

If in class you would have...

Online you can...

Resources to learn more:

Conducted a lecture

  • Hold a live Zoom session that’s also recorded 
  • Post screencasts that you create
  • Post videos of yourself teaching in a classroom or a classroom-like space
  • Post PowerPoint or other resources along with explanatory notes and/or audio or video explanations

Held a structured class discussion or an open-ended Q&A session

  • Use Canvas discussion board (student responses can be audio or video as well as text)
  • Use the Canvas Studio discussion tool to have students respond directly to a video
  • Have a general Canvas discussion open for anything students might want to share/ask about

Divided students into groups for activities

  • Use Canvas groups to break up the class for group discussions 
  • Use a Google doc (Canvas Collaboration) to allow students to collaboratively construct and share knowledge
  • Provide a Zoom room where student groups could meet live online, and/or have students meet in Zoom and then send them into separate breakout rooms

Held small group or individual conferences with students

  • Have students turn in drafts through Canvas and use the audio or video feedback tools. Have students respond directly to your feedback and make it a conversation.
  • Use Canvas’s Calendar tool to enable students to schedule meetings with you
  • Use Zoom or the phone to hold live small group or 1-1 meetings

Given a quiz or test

  • Use the Canvas quiz tool to administer the test online.
  • If you the college is still allowing campus access, you may be able to run your exams at your class time in your assigned room, even if the rest of the class has been moved online.
  • If you are able to maintain a campus-based, physical test, consider flexibility for students for whom coming to campus becomes completely impractical. Perhaps offer an alternative assignment that can be turned in online.
  • If a campus-based test is not possible and you are not comfortable shifting the test online, consider alternative approaches to assessment.
  • Use Respondus to help turn a Word document with exam questions into a Canvas test.


Collected student assignments turned in on paper

  • Use the Canvas assignment tool to collect student work online. It’s highly recommended to go this route rather than collecting assignments via email.
  • Paper-based work can be turned in by students scanning or taking pictures of their work and then submitting in Canvas. 

Reminded students about upcoming class events, assignment due dates, etc.

  • Make sure your syllabus is posted in Canvas.
  • Use Canvas announcements to help students get key reminders about your class. 
  • Make sure you set due dates on all assignments and activities to help students stay on track through Canvas.
  • If you wish to use a more email-like communication, use the Canvas Inbox to send a message to your class; each student can reply to you for individual follow-up discussion.
  • Make sure your students know about the Canvas mobile app, especially Notifications 

Passed out paper copies of readings or other course materials

  • Link to uploaded files or online materials in a Canvas page. 

Returned student assignments or provided an update on grades

  • Use the Canvas grades tool to maintain a grade book that students can check anytime. 
  • Provide feedback to students on individual assignments via the Canvas Speedgrader.

Had students conference with each other to provide peer feedback on work

  • Use the Canvas peer review tool to automatically give students access to peer work with the ability to provide feedback

Had students present

  • Allow students to present live online via Zoom.
  • Allow students to record presentations via Zoom, Canvas Studio, with their phone, or other tools, then to upload those to a Canvas assignment or discussion board.

Run a hands-on activity using specialized lab equipment and resources, unique technology, or other elements difficult to reproduce online

While it may be very difficult to adequately recreate the experience online, there may be some options to consider:

  • Provide video demonstrations of what the students would have done
  • If possible and supported by the college, acquire and share new resources providing a virtual environment simulating the on-campus experience (see resources at right)
  • If students would have generated their own data sets for analysis, provide data and still have them do analysis
  • If students would have been using specialized computer software in a lab, determine if they can use VMWare to access that software remotely

Reminded students about on-campus student support services

Depending on the status of the crisis, on-campus services may remain available. But even if they are, many students may not be willing or able to make it to campus due to the circumstances.

Point students to the Canvas-based Student Support Hub (click the Student Support button on the left-hand global Canvas menu) for access to: 

  • Online tutoring
  • Online writing center support
  • Online library including 24x7 librarian chat
  • Online counseling
  • Online career center services
  • Live chat with MiraCosta’s student help desk

Include NetTutor in your Canvas course menu for seamless student access to online tutoring.

Make sure students are aware of FAQs with details about additional student service availability by phone and online.


Taken attendance

  • Online, "attendance" is different - in general simply logging in shouldn't be considered attending - students must engage in an academic activity to be considered as having "attended" your class. 
  • While you are encouraged to be flexible and compassionate in your expectations for student participation, you still need to report Last Day of Attendance if a student drops your class.
  • If you run synchronous Zoom sessions you can get a report on who attended, if that is important. But it is highly recommended to not require live student attendance in synchronous sessions.

Gone on a field trip, attended a public event, or had your class do some service learning

  • Probably best not to do these kinds of things. Check with your department chair or dean if you're not sure whether the college or community has placed restrictions on this kind of activity.
  • Consider whether it's possible to have students do a "virtual field trip" using web resources.

Provided instruction with accommodations for a student with a disability

  • Do just about anything listed above, though it will be critical to be especially attentive to accessibility requirements and to engage AAC in support
  • Be sure to make it clear to your students that if any of your course resources/activities are inaccessible, that they should let you know immediately and you will work with AAC to remediate it or provide an alternative ASAP.



Ideas for shifting your class temporarily online

# 1: Run Your Class Live With Zoom


  • Using Canvas with Zoom makes it easier for students to locate the discussions.
  • See our ConferZoom webpage which walks you step-by-step through the process of integrating Zoom into your Canvas site
  • Use this Zoom Cheat Sheet to set up your first online class meeting. 

DON'T USE CANVAS? You can still use Zoom! 

  • Visit to sign up for a free instructor account
  • See our ConferZoom webpage for:
    • How to get Zoom account
    • Pedagogical recommendations for using Zoom
    • A few troubleshooting tips
    • Accessibility suggestions
  • Use this Zoom Cheat Sheet to set up your first online class meeting. 


#2: Pre-Record Your Lectures

If you are not comfortable presenting live, another good option is to pre-record any lecture material and upload it to a place (such as Canvas or Youtube) where your students can view it.  

Pedagogical Recommendations:

  • Test your microphone to make sure that you have good sound quality. Consider using a headset with an external microphone to capture better audio.
  • Remember to caption your videos before sharing with your students! If using a tool other than Zoom for recording your lecture, consider uploading your videos to YouTube to take advantage of their automatic (though not perfect) closed-captioning. Speak clearly and not too quickly to make the content as accurate as possible. 

#3: Skip the Video

You can teach remotely without using any video component. If you are not sure you have the right equipment and are uncomfortable with the tech setup, this might be a good option, at least for the short-term.

Pedagogical Recommendations

  • Annotate your slideshow with notes and share this with students using Canvas or email
  • Use an online discussion / chat tool for students for you and your students to interact. Use specific, structured questions, and let students know expectations for their responses. 
  • Share links to outside resources. Encourage students to watch videos, read articles, etc. 
  • Use Chat to have a live, text-based chat session with students.  

#4: Teach Your Class Remotely With Canvas

Set up Canvas for Remote Teaching 

Consider organizing your content so that it is clear for students where to start and what to do. Items you may want to include are: 

Key Tools and Functions within Canvas

If you are new to using Canvas, you may appreciate some orientation to key Canvas tools and functions. 

  • Assignments: Use for students to upload submissions, from informal reflections to formal written assignments and projects to be viewed and assessed by the instructor.
  • Announcements: Use to send a quick message to your class. 
  • Discussions: Create space for students to engage with each other and discuss class content - can also be a graded activity. 
  • Files: Use to post post key course documents, like the syllabus, readings, assignment sheets, etc. - can also be hidden from student view. 
  • Modules: Use to an organize course content for ease of student access. 
  • Pages: Use to create a Home Page, or create content for students to read or access that is not already created in a separate website or in a Word Document or other kind of document.