No sweat remote start: Top tips for success

No sweat remote start: Top tips for success

By Dr. Leslie Cramblet Alvarez

To continue to keep the campus safe and make time for testing, DU courses will begin remotely, resuming in-person on Tuesday, January 18. After so many online, hybrid, and hyflex classes over the last two years, you may be feeling ready to hit go on a remote start. On the other hand, if you’ve already been planning for a F2F course, the remote start announcement may mean another pivot (yes, we hate that word now, too).

The good news is that the recent requirement of a Canvas presence in all courses means you’re likely more ready for a remote start than you might think. Read on for tips to get started remotely and help your students make progress before the first in-person meeting.

  • Get Canvas set up: Make sure to have your syllabus, readings, and assignments set up in your Canvas courses.
    1. Teaching a course you’ve already taught? Be sure to transfer the content so that you can edit rather than re-do everything.
    2. Prepping a new course? Consider using a free OTL-created Canvas template that will make the work easier and give a clean, dressed-up look to your course. See our Resources for teaching at a distance to get started.

Don’t forget to publish! DU faculty have the ability to publish Winter courses at any time. Allowing students access before the start of the term gives them time to familiarize themselves with the course in advance.

  • Create a syllabus quiz: Many faculty spend time during the first week of class going over learning outcomes, expectations, class norms, policies, and assignments. You can recreate some of this online by asking students to read the syllabus and respond to a syllabus quiz. See an example here.
  • Consider a course overview syllabus video: While you should have a copy of your syllabus in Canvas, you can also create an accompanying video to provide an overview to the course as you might do on the first day or in the first week. This could also be followed by a brief quiz.
    1. BONUS: Easter Egg activities. You can hide a task in your video or syllabus asking students to do something fun (related to class or not!). See Melissa Wehler’s blog about how she does this.
  • Meet synchronously online! Zoom is always an option for courses where it might be helpful to get off to a synchronous start. Don’t forget you can set up Zoom through Canvas. Revisit our blog, Online engagement and interactivity in online synchronous learning.
  • Crowdsource community agreements: Get started on an inclusive classroom. To build community and set up norms for communication and collaboration, consider setting up community agreements. This can be accomplished as a discussion or writing assignment. Typically, faculty will set up their “ground rules” and/or “norms” and students are invited to co-create these agreements as a class community. See our inclusive teaching checklist for more assistance.
  • Create an introduction discussion: Because the first week is important for community building, another way to do this is to allow students to introduce themselves. This can be done as a response to a traditional “getting to know you” prompt or it can be done as a brief video in Canvas!
  • Assign a week one activity online: Beyond orientation to the syllabus and building community, you can dig into content remotely through posted readings and assignments. See more about setting up assignments from the Canvas Community. Wondering how much time these activities should take? Revisit our blog, Ways to meet the instructional time in an online format.
  • Don’t forget accessibility! See our Canvas Accessibility Checklist to make sure your course is prepared for students with (or without) accommodations.

The OTL is here to support you as you kick off your course and provide help with all aspects of Canvas from planning to building! Keep an eye on our calendar for workshops and drop-in hours to assist you. You can always request a 1:1 with our instructional designers or our Faculty Developer of Online Learning.