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Returning From Remote

Capturing the Good Work We Did During Remote Teaching

Whether it happens this summer, next fall, or beyond, nearly all MSU Denver instructors will be going back to in-person classes after an extended period of remote teaching. Perhaps you were already experienced with online teaching and learning, or maybe you were thrown into a whole new teaching format. Regardless, everyone dug in to do the work of making sure our students got what they needed during a tough time.

Now, as you think about returning to a physical classroom, there is an opportunity to salvage, retain, and even treasure some of the work the pandemic forced us to take on.

Below the CTLD has laid out three areas we think are worth considering as you plan your return from remote teaching. The central question we hope you will think on is “How can I capture the good, useful work that took place?”

  • First, you may want to examine and reflect on your own teaching experiences during this unusual time, and we have some prompts that may help with that.
  • Second, we have a list of habits that all courses should probably include regardless of course format.
  • Third, are the opportunities instructors may have created for themselves when they did the work to translate classes into a remote format. While that work was hard, it can now be leveraged into powerful opportunities to change our in-person courses for the better!

Video discussion of the highlights of these ideas and resources:

Guided working sessions with the CTLD:

Join CTLD staff in a Return from Remote – Guided Working Session on June 14th at 2:00 PM, and/or on June 30th at 9:00 AM. Visit the CTLD Events Calendar to register.

Full prompts and resources for Returning From Remote:


Consider taking a moment to write down 3-5 things you have noticed about teaching in the last year. A few prompts that might be helpful:

  • How did your weekly schedule and daily habits change (both good and bad)?
  • What did you learn about your students’ needs (both good and bad)?
  • What aspects of Canvas (and other tools) can be useful to help you maximize the effectiveness of your in-person time?
  • What aspects of Canvas (and other tools) can help to support your students?
  • Were there ways that you found yourself acting more as a facilitator, resource provider, and manager, rather than the “sage on the stage”? Or were there other more student-centered learning methods that became available?

Below are common aspects of online courses that are, in fact, best practices for courses of any format. Unless a department or program has discussed compelling reasons to do otherwise, these features should be part of all MSU Denver courses:

Use a “digital first” model for distributing documents and media to students:

  • Documents and other media can be made accessible in ways that physical paper, or one-time videos shown in class can never be. Text can change size, screen readers can be used, videos have captions that help all viewers, etc. Make it a habit to distribute documents and media to students online by default and, if needed, offer to print hard copies for any student who asks.

Have student work submitted via Canvas:

  • Ask students to submit work via Canvas to improve organization, reduce paper use and create consistent feedback mechanisms.

Use Canvas for key course communications:

  • Use the Canvas Syllabus tool.
  • Post policies, schedules, and other important information in Canvas.
  • Make sure students have multiple ways to reach you.

Keep students up to date using Canvas Grades:

  • Post grades on course components regularly
  • Explain how students can understand their “in-progress” grades so they are less likely to be blindsided later in the term.

Use Teams to connect with students:

  • Offer virtual office hours to reach students with complicated schedules without disrupting your working hours as much.

Many of the most effective research-based instructional strategies require that instructors invest in up-front work that is often difficult to prioritize in the midst of all the pressures instructors face. However, the work done during the pandemic may have created opportunities to change our in-person courses for the better!

Keep any additional content you created or found:

  • Additional content resources can be used to give alternative discussions of the topics at hand, catching up on pre-requisite materials (remedial work), diving deeper on a given topic, etc.

Keep or repurpose media that you created or incorporated:

  • If you created videos or screencasts or connected students to media created by others, keep those in place as part of your course. Maybe you will want those to become a secondary resource, but they can still offer immense value to learners.
  • If you recorded the lecture for a given class, use it as a make-up method for students who miss an in-person session. This can be an up-front offer to all students or can be used only when students have a good reason for missing the (important) in-person sessions.

Keep or repurpose computer-graded activities:

  • If you created any computer-graded activities (such as formative assessments, practice work, knowledge checks, summative assessments, etc.) those can be used to provide quick, on-demand, feedback to students, which is crucial in effective teaching and learning. They also help keep the instructor informed about student understanding.

Try flipping (or tilting) parts of various lessons in your courses:

  • In the shift to remote teaching, you may have taken an in-person activity and translated it into an asynchronous activity that students can do on their own time. This presents an opportunity to keep that activity online and asynchronous, allowing class time to be used for discussion, application, or extension of the concept. This is related to the concept of the Flipped Classroom, but it can be done in any desired increment.

Keep or repurpose online discussions:

  • Did you find an especially useful way to use Discussions in Canvas? Consider using online discussions for student Q&A, to promote the development of writing skills, or to facilitate student collaboration on homework. Online discussions can also encourage participation from students who do not often contribute in F2F discussions.
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