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 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