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Preparing Your Course Content for Remote Learning

Remote Learning Guides

Transferring courses that were previously held in-person to the online learning environment is often not always simple or straightforward.  

If you are new to remote learning, the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub (of which The University of Winnipeg is a partner) has created several asynchronous courses and support materials to help prepare post-secondary instructors to teach online.

In addition to those provided on their website, the following are now available to instructors on the Nexus Learning Management System (LMS):

Learn how to navigate Nexus tools in recorded lunch n' learns facilitated by PACE.

PACE has also provided a Basic Guide to Teaching Online PDF, that covers some of the fundamental principles and considerations of teaching online, as well as important aspects of adjusting pedagogy to an online environment.

Remote teaching: a practical guide with tools, tips, and techniques by Alison Flynn and Jeremy Kerr is a Canadian Open Education Book that will walk you through all of the steps necessary to move your class online.

Additional Resources:

From teachonline.ca - 2020 Top Ten Books on Online Learning

Review Course Outcomes

In order to simplify moving your course material online, it is useful to go back to the basics and carefully examine what the necessary learning outcomes/topics are. You may need to get this down to the bare minimum to successfully deliver a course when you are shifting to remote teaching.

Effective learning outcomes should be:

  • Focused on what the learner will achieve, not what the instructor will do.
  • Specific about what students need to accomplish.
  • Attainable by all students, particularly under these exceptional circumstances.

Additional Resources:

  • For more on learning outcomes, see University of Waterloo’s Writing Intended Learning Outcomes.
  • Backwards design is a process of planning a course by deciding first what you want students to know, understand and be able to do.  Megan McIntyre from Sonoma State University provides an example of how it can be used for designing a writing class: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1k7uuHiADFcj4YH5x8iJkyNf6df-dahvnjCUex-feW8A/edit
  • ABC Learning Design is based on Diana Laurillard’s Conversational Framework, and focuses on quickly designing courses based on 6 learning types: acquisition, inquiry, discussion, practice, collaboration, and production. Videos and a toolkit for designing your course are provided by University College London (UCL).

Structure Your Material

Be as clear as you can be about what students can expect from your course. This will help set them up for success. The following tips from PACE can help you with course delivery:

  • Providing a daily agenda (posted at least 24 hours ahead of the class start) for the students is critical, and can be posted on the course site for each class day. The agenda should provide a clear roadmap of what the students expectations are for the day, not limited to but including: live meeting time; discussion topics; large or small group discussions; resources (text, article, video, etc.) that will be explored; etc.
  •  The instructor should produce student support material and learning activities that align with the course objectives and proposed outcomes of each module/week. These materials are written summaries, links to videos, and other resources that expand, clarify, integrate and make reference to the learning outcomes in each module/week.
  • Each module/week should be designed with integrated learning activities with the goal of raising student awareness of critical issues, concepts, and theories presented in the lessons of each module/week. Each module should include several methods for building on various learning styles including self-tests, online chats & discussions, webcasts, podcasts, case studies, video and audio presentations, and others. The instructor should source, where appropriate for the course, relevant online resources to enhance student learning.

Additional Resources:

Revise Assessments & Practice

The online environment requires important reconsideration of how students will practice their learning, and how assessments will be delivered. 

For assessments to be fair and equitable in remote learning, instructors may need to consider requirements such as, access to particular hardware and software, and the low-bandwidth requirements of many rural students.

 Flynn & Kerr’s Remote Teaching has many useful pointers for online assessment. Drawing on work from the University of Calgary (and with our own contributions from PACE) we outline the basic principles of online assessments as:

  •  Focus on learning (especially the most important aims of the course). Evaluation should help students learn.
  • Balance structure with flexibility. Consider potential/known challenges students are facing during the pandemic, and try to give clear options and alternatives.
  • Find a balance for the frequency of assessments. Too many assessments may be counterproductive, but early assessment activities can help flag potential issues.
  •  Provide clear instructions, evaluative criteria, and prompt feedback. Students need specific and timely feedback, particularly as this may be new for many of them.
  • When possible, replace timed exams with other types of assessments. For many reasons (access, privacy, technology, and equity), closed-book, timed exams may be particularly unsuitable for remote learning.
  • Emphasize academic integrity (e.g., through conversations early and often, and include an academic integrity statement in the syllabus).

Additional Resources:

Revise Course Materials

There are a number of access issues to books and other print materials we know Faculty and students will face during the shift to remote teaching and learning. If you are Faculty concerned about student access to resources previously held in print, contact your subject librarian as soon as possible to discuss alternatives. The Library may be able to purchase eBook versions of some books, but please keep in mind not everything is available in an electronic format. Commercial textbooks may present a particular difficulty.

The Library already subscribes to a large number of full-text journals and ebooks which may have suitable materials for your courses. In addition, there are many Open Educational Resources available that you can re-mix and re-use for your online courses.

Under the UWinnipeg Fair Dealing Guidelines, you may be able to scan materials you have copies of and make them available to your class. More information on this is available on our Copyright Considerations page.

The Library also runs the Syllabus Service, a full-service option for locating materials on your syllabus and ensuring they meet our copyright guidelines.  The Syllabus Service operates on a first-come, first-served model, and Faculty are encouraged to submit ASAP. Electronic reserves will also be available.

Additional Resources:

  • Office Lens is a free tool that can capture text from images/ scans. It can help make your documents more accessible, or help students who need OCR for screen readers and other accessibility tools.