Teaching Strategies

Student Engagement in a Remote Course

Depending on how you choose to balance synchronous and asynchronous engagement in your course, you may find yourself needing to translate active learning and other forms of student engagement into a different medium.

In doing this work of translation, you will inevitably need to make decisions about which teaching technologies you plan to use, and how you use them. Whenever possible, try to limit your teaching technologies to a few options that are aligned with your course learning goals. This will ensure that your students don’t need to divert cognitive load away from course content in order to learn new technologies.

It’s also worth noting that some technologies might present a learning curve for you as an instructor. As you’re selecting which tools to use for your course, take some time to experiment with each to see if the learning curve is worth the benefit of using the tool in your course.

The table below provides some examples of how common classroom activities might be translated into either format.

Traditional Classroom Activity Synchronous Alternatives Asynchronous Alternatives
Instructor writing and organizing student contributions on the board
  • Typing student contributions into a Google Doc that all students can access
  • If you have a tablet or iPad, using it logged into Zoom as a white board.
Brainstorming activity in which students write on the board themselves
  • Students type ideas into a Google Doc in advance of a class meeting.
  • Students answer a PollEverywhere question embedded into the course Canvas site
Collaborative discussion of an assigned text
  • A short discussion of assigned questions during a synchronous meeting, with students participating verbally and in a Zoom chat.
  • Students submit 5-7 short comments on a PDF of the reading in Perusall.
  • Students post a response to the reading on a Canvas discussion board, and respond to a post by a classmate.
Think-pair-share / group problem-solving
  • Students discuss in Zoom breakout rooms and share observations with the full class afterward.
  • Students respond to each other in a short Canvas discussion thread.
Checking student understanding of material after a lecture or series of class discussions
  • A short Canvas quiz allowing multiple attempts.
  • A Canvas discussion that prompts students to share lingering questions at the end of the week.
Instructor guiding/anticipating the flow of discussion
  • If using a breakout room with a Google Doc, monitor student contributions and shift the conversation once back in a full group.
  • Instructor writes more detailed guidelines than usual for a discussion assignment and logs in periodically to pose new guiding questions.
Student group presentations
  • Students deliver the presentation in a Zoom meeting with one student controlling slides or sharing clips using Screen Share.
  • Students record themselves presenting in their own Zoom room, and upload the video to a Panopto assignment folder for classmates to watch and comment on.
Peer review
  • Students annotate classmates’ assignments using Google Docs or Canvas Peer Review and review feedback on their own time.

For more ideas of how to translate active learning activities across mediums, see Louisiana State University’s detailed active learning chart.