Tips for Teaching Flexibly

The following tips will assist you in building your capacity with flexible delivery.

Discuss how you will facilitate discussions and what procedures participants in each mode will need to follow to answer a question or contribute with the students on the first day of class when you are developing your class code of conduct. Ask them what they feel the best process would be and co-create the expectations together.

Be sure to check audio and video capabilities with your remote students each class.

  • Can they hear you clearly when you are teaching? Can they hear their classmates?
  • Can they see the shared screen?
  • Additionally, build a remote check into your regular instructional routine. Pause at the end of each chunk of material, or after difficult concepts, to check in with your remote students.

Choose your active learning strategies purposefully, and plan for the execution ahead of your class time. Consider the following:

  • You may have more, or fewer, students joining remotely or in-person on any given day, so prepare a modification plan for the activity.
  • Where possible, be sure to let the students know that there will be a group activity during the next class and encourage those with laptops or personal devices to bring them to facilitate the use of breakout rooms between both in-person and remote students.

Be malleable and adaptable. Depending on the ratio of students attending in each participation mode, whether there are technical issues, or other challenges you may need to pivot, and adjust your plans.

Build time into your lesson planning to deal with technical issues – instructors may not be able to “get through” as much content in a flexible lesson because time must be allocated to troubleshooting technology, pausing to solicit responses from both sets of students, etc. Thus, it is important to pair down content and provide just the essentials.

It can be difficult to manage the chat while teaching, so try the following:

  • appoint a student to be the “voice of the chat”.
  • Plan moments in your class to pause and ask if there are questions and thoughts from the chat. Derek Bruff, the director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University, recommends adding an image to your presentation at various points to offer a reminder.

Be sure to design learning experience that build a single learning community.

  • Intermix virtual and in-person students within group tasks or create learning pods with students from various participation modes.
  • Use collaborative notetaking in a shared document or a virtual whiteboard to encourage students to interact during synchronous and asynchronous time.
  • Create a class ‘back channel’ chat through an open discussion board or Teams channel to encourage students to ask questions and answer each other’s questions

Have a plan in place regarding the potential of failing technology – include contingencies in your orientation package for students that outlines what steps need to be taken if streaming is interrupted and discuss these plans with the class in your orientation days and periodically throughout the course.

Become comfortable with the technology

  • practice setting up your computer (the more you can practice and make mistakes the more opportunity you have to seek out assistance in how to troubleshoot these errors making you more prepared for any eventuality).
  • create a “cheat sheet” for yourself – Creating a simple recipe-like cheat sheet can make you feel confident that you can tackle any issue that arises.
  • Seek out professional development – look to the CTL for any professional development on synchronous platforms and using educational technology.
  • Know the number to call for support from IT – when you are lost it is best to ask for assistance from the professionals because technology really does fail at times.