Delivering Remote Education in Place of Seated Education: What and How

Published July 8, 2020

This guide is intended to help faculty move seated courses to remote learning, while creating and maintaining a quality educational experience for students and faculty.

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Overview and Rationale

Students in our place-based programs have chosen a campus-based, seated class experience likely, in part, because they feel the structure of regular, seated classes are the best match for their learning. As a result, standard online learning isn’t typically the best fit for their needs (both by their reports and research). When we shift into remote teaching, these students will be faced with more of a mismatch between their needs and what they are receiving, especially if we approach remote teaching the same way we teach online. For that reason, to maintain a good person-environment fit, we want to  preserve as many elements of seated instruction as possible so students receive an education as close to what they selected as possible. For this purpose, we want to think about three types of course delivery for our social work students: seated, remote, and online. Hybrid or blended courses may combine all of these modes – for simplicity’s sake we have left that out of the table.

Seated students typically vary from fully-online students in their: technology experience, self-regulation experience and expectations, and social presence needs and expectations. Seated classes structure a great deal of the learning in a social context, for instance, the place-based classroom in the presence of other students and the instructor. While online students are often asked to prepare for their online experience  prior to class (e.g., minimum technology requirements, preparation for self-paced coursework), the place-based, real-time (synchronous) students are primarily prompted to show up in the classroom at the stated time, and may not otherwise be prepared for online learning. This is not true for most online teaching, which often structures learning through self-paced modules, mostly asynchronous, and requires students to have strengths in self-management and organization, empowering them to learn much of the content on their own. Students often choose this path because of prior online experiences. Instead, we are asking our classes that were slated for seated instruction to use a remote instruction approach to delivering the course.

In light of the current public health challenges in delivering all scheduled seated classes with enough social distancing (reduced capacity of classrooms), and given the differences in the programs that students have chosen, we have created an instruction guide. This guide highlights the differences between the three modes of delivery, although in reality, some faculty may blend these (e.g., have all seated students submit assignments through a learning management system). For the purposes of this guide, we define remote teaching as follows: “instruction that is temporarily replacing seated instruction due to health, safety, or infrastructure disruption, and that maximizes the elements of seated instruction as much as possible.” The context is key to understanding this document: students did not choose remote education as their preferred model of education, and the shift to remote instruction signals a societal disruption that affects all students (online and remote). This context is what differentiates remote teaching from online teaching with frequent synchronous classes. What follows is a table that seeks to highlight the elements of classes and compare/contrast best practices across these three modes when a remote shift has occurred.

A Comparison of Seated, Remote* and Online Courses

  Seated Remote Online
Pacing

Class-paced

Class-paced

Class- and self-paced

Self-Management Scaffolding Mostly limited to how assignments are structured Supported in classroom lectures Provide suggested prep times that map closer to the scheduled class time, i.e., suggest that students do work certain days of the week. Provide content pathways, with some reminders and allow students more flexibility
Content Delivery

On-campus, together

Lecture/guest lecture

Assess learning with face-to-face questions.

Synchronous and asynchronous mix

Online lecture/guest lecture

Content integration in synchronous class, which is scheduled during each seated class time- at least 50% of scheduled time. Use other 50% for planned lecture viewing i.e. “flipped classroom” model

Assess learning with synchronous polling tools (mentimeter, Zoom polls)

Primarily asynchronous

Online lecture/guest lecture recording

Assess learning with quizzes/assessments

May offer occasional (i.e., monthly) synchronous sessions

Experiencing Content View/listen to multimedia together, read stories/accounts and process together; discussions/activities to experiment with content Best to do synchronously:  view/listen to multimedia, process material immediately following viewing/reading; discussions/activities to experiment with content through use of breakout rooms and class role plays. Links to multimedia, discussions via flipgrid (for example), guided activities, group work self-organized outside of class.
"Practicing" Content Small groups in class, demonstrations in class, deconstructing a process in class, real time parallel process

Combination of synchronous and asynchronous

Small groups using breakout rooms, demonstrations, large and small group skills practice and/or development of action steps

Give time for tasks and report out as a group. Explain how small groups will be formed and disbanded during class time. Visit breakout rooms to ensure the group is on task. Alert students on how to ask questions when in breakout rooms

Instructor can give prompts and suggestions using private chat features

Use of online tools to demonstrate the execution of content (i.e., videoant, flipgrid, wikis, podcasts) and hold synchronous activities in small groups and larger class during occasional live sessions

Give time for tasks and explain how report out will happen.  Explain how small groups will be formed and disbanded. Alert students on how to ask questions when in breakout rooms

Instructor can give prompts and suggestions using private chat features

Self Awareness

Easier to gauge presentation and use of self via reflection, anticipation, and real time discussion

Real time processing of triggers, conflicts, and disclosures

Synchronous discussion with prompts, anonymous polling, self-check surveys

Real time processing of triggers, conflicts, and disclosures optimal, but may happen outside of synchronous session and need to be brought back to synchronous class

Synchronous or asynchronous self-check  surveys, journals, role plays

Anticipation of and planning for triggers (highly emotional material), conflicts (group assignments), and disclosures (lived experience) through self reflection activities

Student Prep

Follow syllabus, remind of upcoming work in live classes

Occasionally check email and/or LMS announcements

Instructor-based reminders/prompts via email, Zoom class reminders, encourage group connection for whole class (i.e., social media group)

Reminder to read email and check LMS announcements routinely

Reminders built into the structure of course.  Encourage group connection for whole class (i.e., social media group)

Expectation set to routinely monitor email and check LMS announcements

Instructor Prep May be able to “go with what you know,” play it more by ear, bring copies of activity instructions to class last minute, follow syllabus for the most part and provide extra context in class

Plan out agenda and activities, keep to time frames, mix up delivery format to prevent cognitive overload. May be able to plan week to week

Ensure students have all material referenced before the session-minimize need for internet exploration during live class

Pre label and populate breakout rooms, create polls ahead of time

Think out when to schedule interactions, assignments, exploration. When will students most benefit from what kind of synchro engagement? Use this time wisely for activities.

Provide self-directed content paths in modules for students to do at their own pace. Label these paths consistently from week to week and from document to document

Assignments General

Explained during class, time for questions. Submit during class.

Grading time frame explicit and general feedback given in class session

Explicit due date, time and where to submit. Synchronous reminders and time for questions built in.

All seated assignments can be replicated online with additional detailed instruction and prompts about how to use technology.

Discussion board forum where students can post questions for instructor

Grading time frame and method (track changes, voice thread) explicit, and general feedback given synchronously during live class as it applies to whole group.

Explicit due date, time and where to submit. Prerecorded instructions and announcement/email reminders.

All seated assignments can be replicated online with detailed instruction, may be able to improve assignments through use of technology.

Discussion board forum where students can post questions for the instructor.

Grading time frame and method (track changes, voice memo) explicit and posted with assignments. General feedback put in announcement or email.

Schedule

May be more flexible- easier to assess where students are and collaboratively make adjustments in real time, as students are often more vocal about needs or make more use of informal check-ins.

Due dates and agenda for completion of learning activities.

Some flexibility with collaborative agreement- provide clear opportunities for check-ins to discuss progress to see if adjustments are needed.

Clear syllabus so students can plan their whole term across classes in advance. Prerecorded instructions on scheduling related to workload. Due dates with flexibility for students who might be dealinging with challenging life circumstances related to learning content during the week (i.e., weekends are often the time they can do classwork).
Netiquette

Minimum: Ensure that use of technology is professional; use social media and other technology thoughtfully and professionally.

Client confidentiality applies online and in other digital spaces. Know the ethical professional standard for technology use (NASW Technology Standards). Keep your online presence ethics focused.

Must explain with examples (orientation to any software). Instructor models as students may be new to these tools

Include everything that would be in seated class.

Built-in/assumed (orientation to any software may happen before term starts/during orientation to online program).


Instructor models, students expected to be using basic technology tools (school required minimum is explicit).

Include everything that would be in seated class.

Contact time Weekly, scheduled, 3 hour onground classes with a break midway through. Weekly synchronous Zoom sessions during the scheduled class with frequent breaks. Session may be split with synchronous and asynchronous elements Self-paced within the week, perhaps monthly synchronous sessions.
Technology Minimum: upload syllabus to blackboard Minimum: Give easy-to-find links to live class, readings, etc. Promote student self-regulation through frequent reminders and consistent structures. Provide hyperlinks-as few steps as possible as to not overwhelm. Promote self-regulation through consistent structures.  Provide links and consistency in terms. (Journals vs reflections; quizzes, vs assessments, etc.) Students may be more comfortable navigating more tech media.
Social Presence

Students visit in informal spaces, between classes- also formally in breakout groups, informally before and after classes.  Encourage students to share ideas/good questions with others.

Having class together in physical room facilitates connection around shared interests.

Give students formal and informal time to spend together – ie in breakout groups give time for students to get to know each other, be playful together. Assign small group activities/projects in  class during breakout groups (2-3 students). Encourage students to share (via email/post) ideas/good questions (and answers) with others. Use what is presented in synchronous space for connection (ie:, they have a pet, train outside their window, polls) to connect around shared interests. Continuity between classes (i.e.,end class with an activity and begin the following class reconnecting in the same small group).

Create specific discussion areas for students to have non-course related conversations) and/or use polling to get a sense of shared interests.

Assign small group activities/projects outside of class (2-3 students). Encourage connection through group apps and other social media. Suggest students share questions, ideas, and solutions with one another.

Teacher Presence Show up in class, give thorough and detailed feedback on assignments

Video and camera on in synchronous meetings. Provide good structure for class, facilitation, respond to emails, formative and summative feedback. Thorough, detailed and timely feedback on assignments. Polling tools can allow for anonymous feedback in real time.

Build in connection with instructor through assignments (i.e., require connection with instructor, instructor approval on a research topic, share draft with instructor).

Use multiple ways to reinforce teacher presence (i.e., video messages, flipgrid, emails, texts) between synchronous meetings. Meeting w/each student near the start of term indiv or small groups (2-4 students) to build community.

Build in connection with instructor through assignments (i.e., require connection with instructor, instructor approval on a research topic, share draft with instructor).

Cognitive Presence  Students are engaged in class discussions, appear to have read the material, incorporate learning in papers, ask thoughtful questions, etc. Students show up and are engaged in online synchronous discussions, are prepared, incorporate learning in papers, ask thoughtful questions that demonstrate they read the material, etc. Students show up and are engaged in online synchronous and asynchronous discussions, are prepared, incorporate learning in papers, pose thoughtful questions in synchronous and asynchronous spaces etc.
Instruction
Creativity
Planned and spontaneous activities based on the mood of the class.

Instructor troubleshoots regarding planned activities ahead of time.

Fallback activities based on atmosphere, technology, but pre-planned backups.

Planned and embedded activities.

Planned synchronous activities.

More opportunities to bring tools in from external/web sources and consider audiences beyond the classroom.

Instructor Accessibility

Office hours
Best way to contact
Expectation of availability and response timeframe- may be available before or after class.

Virtual office hours
Best way to contact
Expectation of availability and response timeframe- may “hang out” until everyone leaves the synch room each week.
Virtual office hours
Best way to contact
Expectation of availability and response timeframe. May send survey asking students whether they want a meeting at multiple points in term, give a way to sign up to promote a sense of accessibility.
Exams/Quizzes In class or take home, may review together in class. May be timed, perhaps during the live class session.

Timed assessments with multiple attempts

Test pools

Open and close access to exams

Release of results after all test-takers are finished

Giving feedback – especially critical feedback

Prompt based on frequent meetings

Comments on papers, meet with students

Often needs to be scheduled

Comments online on uploaded assignments or using comment features in Word, etc. Meet with student about concerns live online.

Needs to be scheduled

Consider video or voicethread feedback – can use screen capture, youtube

If ethics issue, schedule zoom

* We define remote teaching as follows: “instruction that is temporarily replacing seated instruction due to health, safety, or infrastructure disruption, and that maximizes the elements of seated instruction as much as possible.” The context here is key to understanding this document: students did not choose remote teaching as their preferred model of education, and the shift to remote teaching signals a societal disruption that affects all students (online and remote). This context is what differentiates remote teaching from online teaching with frequent synchronous classes.

General Considerations for all Formats

  • ADA compliance to make sure all materials are in an accessible format
  • Communicate expectations for instructor accessibility and timeframes for responses to student questions
  • Communicate expectations in case there are technology failures or the need to cancel/reschedule classes
  • If you are using/requiring specialized software or apps make sure you provide links or documentation on how to use that software
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Questions?

Contact Assistant Professor Melanie Sage at msage@buffalo.edu.