Technology > Teaching Remotely

Teaching remotely

Learning doesn’t have to stop just because in-person classes can’t meet. There are tools and resources available to help you prepare for temporary remote instruction. Be prepared to keep teaching despite challenges from inclement weather, natural disasters, and health emergencies. If circumstances prompt you to teach remotely, just remember that it isn’t a permanent shift. You don’t have to plan an entire course for online deployment--just long enough to overcome the disruption.

Here's the basic equipment you'll need to get started teaching online. Please fill out the Course Observer form if you would like to be enrolled in an online class from a previous quarter to get a sense of the many different ways you can approach online teaching.

If you are new to using Canvas, you may want to familiarize yourself with some key tools to communicate class plans with your students.

  • Assignments: Instructors can create space for students to upload assignments. Instructors can select the grading approach within the assignment. Assignments are best for instructors who wish for the students’ work to only be viewed and assessed by the instructor.
  • Files: Instructors can post key course documents, like the syllabus, readings, assignment sheets, and activity descriptions in this space.
  • Modules: Instructors can organize course content into several chunks or groups of learning content. The pieces of information that students will access, including the syllabus, assignment sheets, activity descriptions, and outside links and resources, can be grouped together in the order that students might access those resources during a synchronous or asynchronous class session. Modules can give students access to readings, activity descriptions, outside links, and assignment submission links all in one place.
  • Pages: Instructors can create content for students to read or access that is not already created in a separate website or in a Word Document or other kind of document. The settings for Pages can also be changed so that the page can be edited by both instructors and students to create a class Wiki.

Canvas offers many ways to contact your students. Using the following tools, you can message your entire class or individuals to foster a sense of engagement and belonging.

  • Announcements: Instructors can send mass emails or messages to the whole class community via the Announcements tool. The benefit to using Announcements over e-mail is that instructors do not need to collect individual student e-mail addresses and that the messages are archived in the course Canvas site.
    • Chat: The whole class, instructors and students alike, can engage in a “real time” text-based, instant messaging conversation. Messages received in Chat remain archived and can be read outside of synchronous time too. This can be a nice way for instructors and students to communicate nimbly without needing to use voice-based chat and without needing to use any outside apps or resources.
  • Discussions: Instructors can create threaded, written discussion forums for students to engage in written (or audio/video) dialogue with each other and respond to prompts.
  • Inbox: The Canvas inbox allows you to message individuals of the whole class. Inbox messages are forwarded to the students’ associated email addresses. Start messages from the inbox, but you and your students can respond to Canvas messages directly from your email inbox--no login to Canvas required.
  • Or check out a videoconferencing option (below) to talk with your students.

Whatever your approach to remote instruction, plan to be flexible. You may find that technology doesn’t work exactly as you’d like, and you have to reschedule or try a different tool. Students may face the same challenges in their access and technology skills. Be patient with your students and your technology, and be ready to adapt. Maybe think about alternate tools or alternate assignments to ensure everyone can participate.

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously (in “real time”) or asynchronously (students view recordings later) depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options.

Faculty and staff must ask for consent from all meeting participants before recording. If consent isn't given, the meeting may not be recorded. Faculty are not permitted to share a recording from one class section with another section if any student voices or faces are shown. Doing so violates FERPA.

Synchronous communication

  1. Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation.
  2. More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding.
  3. More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors.
  4. Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible.

Asynchronous communication

  1. Higher levels of flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible.
  2. Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material.
  3. Students may feel less personally engaged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors.
  4. Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without the real-time interaction.

The Technology Resource Center at Edmonds College supports the following videoconferencing platforms: Canvas Conferences, Google Meet, Panopto, and Zoom. For a comparison of these options, check out our videoconferencing cheat sheet. If you want self-paced training on Canvas Conference, Panopto, or Zoom, please fill out the Canvas Add User form.

If you need a quick refresher about using Zoom, check out the video tutorials below:

Canvas makes it possible to quickly move content between a single user’s courses or between two users’ courses. You can import an entire course or copy smaller portions, such as a single assignment, quiz, or learning module, into your course.

To import content from one of your previous courses, open the new course’s settings, click “Import Course Content” and then select the course you’d like to import from as well as the content (all or specific sections) that you’d like to bring into your new course.

To share specific content (an assignment, page, discussion, etc.) from one user to another (or between one user’s courses), use the direct share feature. For examples of how the direct share feature works, see the instructions for sharing a page to another instructor, sharing a page with another course, and sharing an assignment to another course.

There are lots of options for engaging your students online during times of disruption. Just because you can’t meet face-to-face doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on conversations, instruction, and assignments. You can encourage students to interact with you, the course content, and each other in a number of ways; you can also share feedback and guide your students with grading tools in Canvas.

You can create discussion boards to supplement videoconferences, to check student understanding of course content, or to establish a sense of community within your group. It’s important to give prompts that are open enough to invite discussion but not so broad that students are overwhelmed and don’t know how to start responding. Consider including weblinks and media in your prompts to get students talking. You can also use a 0-point discussion board for students to share questions or concerns or to just chat with each other.

We know that students have diverse learning needs, so try to provide multiple ways for students to interact with your course content. In other words, if you provide only written content and activities, some students might have a hard time engaging. Try to incorporate useful media to support the learning tools you already have in place.

Speedgrader is Canvas’ tool that makes grading quick and easy. In Speedgrader, you can grade with a rubric, enter grades manually, give audio and written feedback, and annotate a student’s submission.

The tools available in Canvas will help you establish regular and substantive interaction in your course: an absolute must for remote instruction. Regular and substantive interaction is: frequent and predictable interaction between faculty and student; interaction built into your course design; pertinent to the subject matter. In other words, communicate with your students about your course content. If instruction is disrupted for a week, make sure that you’re messaging students within that frame. Don’t “leave them hanging”!

Honorlock will provide online exam proctoring for winter quarter finals; students will NOT be required to pay for this service during winter 2020. This app ensures academic integrity in the online testing process with the following features:

  • Record students’: webcam, screen, audio, web activity
  • Verify identity of tester with: student ID, student picture, room scan
  • Disable students’ ability to: copy/paste, print, use multiple displays
  • Multi-device detection
  • And more

Honorlock’s “pop-in” proctors will connect with testers if the system’s AI artificial intelligence (AI) detects potential problems (e.g., another person in the room, or the tester attempts to access another website). The proctor will work with the student to resolve the issue and then let the student return to their exam.

The Technology Resource Center can help you with instructional design, Canvas functionality, and educational technology. Learn more about the TRC support hours, contact information and more at the TRC Information page.

If you’d like self-paced training to help you prepare for delivering remote instruction, please fill out the Canvas Add User form. Available training includes:

  • Intro to Canas
  • Canvas Conversations/Inbox
  • Creating Pages in Canvas
  • Canvas Groups
  • Zoom
  • Panopto
  • Gradebook Basics
  • Adapting Grounded Courses for Hybrid

One of the biggest challenges for temporary remote instruction is knowing how best to help students use the technology to engage with the course. Your students may send you technical questions; a big timesaver will be knowing where to direct these questions so that you can focus on teaching. If students need technical support, direct them to START or the Service Desk for tutorials and guidance.

START, the Student Technology Advice and Resource Team, is a student-led group that helps students understand how to use available technology. Learn more about START's support hours, contact information and more at the START Information page.

For student tutorials on Canvas, Triton Email, Google apps, software, and more, direct your students to the IT Help Center.

The Service Desk provides general technical support and assistance with most campus technology. Contact the Service Desk at