Many science courses and labs depend on board work to teach equation-based concepts, perform calculations, diagram structures, and/or unpack complex processes. Using the board models the activity for students in real time while slowing the pace of content transfer so students can write/draw in their own hand, which we know aids cognitive processing. The benefits of this mode of teaching can be achieved online in at least three ways. If you use board work in your teaching, consider which of these might best match your resources at hand as well as your level of comfort with technology. All three suggestions do assume integration with Zoom. For guidance on how to set up your Zoom account and use it in Canvas, go here.

1. Using Zoom and an iPad with a stylus

In this approach, you use an iPad and stylus to fully replicate your board writing, with the live feed of the “board” replacing your video camera feed in Zoom. Students will be able to follow along in real time in Zoom and take notes manually as usual.  You will also be able to capture the feed as course video for students to review if needed.

2. Using Zoom and an overhead camera

In this approach, you can use a low cost webcam perched over a sheet of paper that you then use to replicate your board writing.  As above this becomes a live feed on Zoom and students can follow along and take notes manually as usual. The feed can be captured as course video for students to review if needed. NB: you can also use your smartphone as a webcam—in which case you would choose to plug it into your laptop and project its feed as described above, in the iPad video.

3. Using Zoom and screen sharing

In this approach, you use the piece of software that you are most comfortable using for writing, drawing or diagramming in your own field—whether a generalist program like PowerPoint or Word, or a specialist program like ChemDraw or LaTex—and screen share in Zoom in real time. This becomes a live feed on Zoom and students can follow along and take notes manually as usual. The feed can be captured as course video for students to review if needed.

Academic Technology for the FAS / HUIT

Your starting place for learning about and accessing many of the technological tools you may need, such as Zoom, Canvas, and related plug-ins.

The Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL)

VPAL convenes university-wide conversations about teaching and pedagogical research, particularly in the online space.

The Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE)

OUE oversees, and stewards resources devoted to, the undergraduate curriculum at Harvard College..

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE)

DCE offers a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online courses, and their staff are experienced in thinking about multiple ways to achieve your goals through different mediums.

SEAS and the Division of Science

Advice on teaching in the sciences.

The Harvard Libraries

Request help modifying/troubleshooting your research-based assignments.

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Schedule a consultation with the Bok Center's Senior Staff. (Please note that consultations are available only for Faculty and Teaching Fellows in the FAS.)

Faculty can attend our online faculty meet-ups, register for ride-along Zoom help, and share your feedback on remote teaching.

View the schedule and register  |  Request a ride along  |  Share feedback

Teaching Fellows can attend a Zoom workshop designed to help you explore and become more comfortable using Zoom and other remote teaching resources, and request that a Pedagogy Fellow or other teaching consultant attend their section and debrief afterwards.

View the schedule and register  |  Request an observation

The media production staff of the Bok Center's Learning Lab can provide consultations for faculty teaching Harvard College courses using Zoom and other modes of media capture. We can provide suggestions for setting up remote video capture environments in your home or office, and on ways to integrate media into your courses.  Please contact us if you would like to discuss your needs with our staff.

Email the Learning Lab