Teaching Remotely

Moving a course you designed for face-to-face delivery to an online environment undoubtedly poses certain challenges, not least of all the question of how to communicate clearly to students how they will be expected to interact with your new course materials and/or new modes of communication. Some aspects of your course may remain unchanged; others, however, will have to adjust to accommodate the new ways in which students will be interacting with you and with each other. Let us help you with the specifics. In the meantime, try to keep in mind the following three general principles as you dive in to teaching remotely:

Explore your options

It’s a good idea to remember that “moving your course online” or “teaching through Zoom” does not necessarily mean that you must employ a single tool (like Zoom) in order to replace every single in-person teaching function—or even every single function that, for example, your lectures fulfilled. You should experiment with the suite of tools available on Canvas (like online annotation tools and polling software), or Google Docs, for example, to accompany (or even to use in lieu of) videoconferencing.

Focus on pedagogy

The need to adopt alternative technologies in order to communicate with students and/or to receive feedback on their learning does not have to represent a restriction or reduction as compared to your initial teaching plan. You may even find that some of the strategies you adopt in these new mediums are more effective at achieving some of your aims, and you may wish to incorporate them into your teaching even after conditions return to normal.

Be flexible

However you decide to combine these new instructional mediums into your course, it is crucial that you be attentive to how you communicate your expectations to students. Students will also be new to the online platforms you are using, and given the unusual circumstances, they may be dealing with situations outside of your virtual classroom that may affect their ability to engage with your course. Remote teaching and learning is at least somewhat new to almost everyone at Harvard, and flexibility and open-mindedness will be crucial as everyone adjusts to it.

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 visit our daily office hours, every Monday–Friday 10:30–11:30 AM; register for a one-hour practice teaching session; and join a workshop on teaching with presence in Zoom.

Daily Office Hours  |  Practice Teaching  |  Zoom Workshop

Teaching Fellows can attend the Fall Teaching Conference, which includes both asynchronous Canvas resources and synchronous sessions devoted to collaboration and practice.

Fall Teaching Conference

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  |  Request a Media Tutorial

Undergraduate Ed Portal Mentors

Mentoring Online: Lessons in Motivation

July 10, 2020

As classes moved online this spring, so did the work of the Bok Center’s twenty-seven undergraduate Mentors. Responsible for engaging Allston-Brighton children in interdisciplinary science, technology, and literacy programs at the Harvard Ed Portal, these undergraduates gain experience with skills central to good teaching, and reflect on their own development as teachers and learners.

When the Ed Portal’s programming shifted online...

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person writing on board with sticky notes

New Pedagogy Fellows Opportunity for Departments

June 12, 2020

The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning is excited to announce that as part of the enhanced instructional support for remote teaching, departments that currently do not participate in the Pedagogy Fellows Program will be invited to apply to join for the 2020–2021 academic year. Pedagogy Fellows collaborate with faculty, administration, and the Bok Center’s senior staff to enhance training and support for teaching fellows within their departments and across the FAS. Consult the...

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Sam Benkelman

Celebrating Senior Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows

May 29, 2020

Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellows (or LLUFs) are a core part of the intergenerational team at the Bok Center’s Learning Lab. LLUFs often have terrific intuitions about the pedagogy that will most engage and appeal to their peers, and they use this expertise as learners to help the Bok Center’s faculty partners design and test new learning experiences for their courses. Given the fact that many of these assignments and activities involve new or at least alternative modes of communication—drawing, speaking, coding, 3D...

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