Understanding your best approach

Looking at remote learning models and the best approach for your course.


The following four scenarios will help you pick the best approach for moving your course into a remote model (adapted from Tannis Morgan).  You can read a detailed version of the way to approach in a PDF or Doc

How My Course is Organized

I use PowerPoints, worksheets, pdfs, you name it. 50% or more of my class involves students working with my materials.


How can I distribute my course materials?


  • Avoid dumping an entire set of course materials into one location and instead organize content into weeks.
  • At the most basic level you might consider emailing weekly content to your students using the Email Tool in Blackboard which is already populated with your class list. Using clear subject lines like, EDFT 101 Week 8 Course Materials, will help students stay organized as well.
  • There is an option to create content folders in Blackboard to organize and distribute your content. Build content folders to house files, videos, links, and library resources in weekly chunks of content.
    • The files should be renamed to follow that convention (i.e. week8_PPT, week8_reading1, week8_worksheet).
  • You might make use of your OneDrive cloud storage account to share content with students. If you choose this option, it would be ideal to create folders in line with the recommendations for Blackboard.

How should I communicate with students?

  • Categorize the types of messages you might have for students whether they be housekeeping items, adding context to course materials, providing clarity around assessments or providing feedback on students work.

How students should communicate with me and their peers?

  • Organizing your students into peer support groups can help to alleviate a lot of questions.
  • You may want students to solve their problems in a group first before emailing you in order to make emails to you more manageable.
  • Alternatively, you can create a shared document that students can add their comments and questions to, and invite students to answer each other’s questions or challenges.
  • Tell them their questions/muddiest points have to be in by a certain day, then compile all of the class group questions into one doc and respond. This doc for example could be called Week 8 Question responses.


Organize and communicate a discussion structure

  • Consider whether you’d like your course to discuss things synchronously (all at the same time), or asynchronously (able to read and post at different times). Asynchronously is much easier for everyone and is recommended.
  • Structure the discussion around a key question or two per week and ask everyone to reply in that thread.
  • Designate a student or group to summarize the discussion or part of the discussion at the end of the week and post to everyone. Rotate that role. Consider doing your own wrap up email (Subject Line: Week 8 – Wrap Up) to capture any topics that didn’t get addressed or need further exploration.
  • If you’re wanting to keep your format of discussions live, then a web conferencing tool like WebEx will need to be employed.
  • Organizing the questions into weeks and scheduling expectations, for example 'Post a response to the question by Wednesday and reply to the two other posts by Friday', will keep things moving in an asynchronous environment.

Here are a variety of methods to use a discussion board in your teaching.

Make groups and communicate the tools that will be used to facilitate them. If it’s mid semester students may already be in groups and doing their thing. Allowing students to use the tools they’re already familiar with is likely your best bet. Ensure to communicate your expectations and the schedule of activities.

  • Easily set up groups using Blackboard Groups
    • establishing groups allows you to better monitor group work as you can “pop in” to group discussions and activities
    • have a variety of tools with which they can interact, share files and information and have discussions.
  • Use email in Blackboard to correspond with student groups you can get your groups established with a group introductory message, copying all the group members.  Communicate some initial instructions and expectations, asking them to connect and begin planning their strategies.
  • USask also supports the use of Wikis as a collaborative space for students to work together. Students may also prefer to use something like Google Docs for this purpose.
  • Another option would be to set up a WebEx room for each group to use and then add them as moderators.
  • Don’t forget about ubiquitous technology like the telephone. 

Providing feedback and facilitation to groups can be as simple as responding to a “Check In” email that you can request student groups to send you each week.


What Tools Can I Use?

How to communicate the instructions and expectations of lab work?

  • Provide details around the schedule of activities
  • Schedule and communicate virtual office hours and tools to communicate

How to demonstrate techniquest or lab practices?

  • Consider creating video demonstrations of techniques using Panopto. In addition to desktop recordings, Panopto can be used to record and distribute videos taken on your phone’s camera. These videos can be linked and uploaded directly to your Blackboard course or shared via email with a link.

How to find and provide virtual labs, online content, or design at home lab alternatives?

  • Search online for relevant video demonstrations or simulations already created.
  • Consider the use of existing open sourced virtual labs that might support your students’ work.
  • Provide your students with raw data sets that they can analyze and summarize when active data collection is not possible.