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Remote Teaching Transition Tips

By Krisstal D. Clayton, PHD


Greetings! This is Dr. Krisstal Clayton—a pedagogical specialist in the Department of Psychology. With the current pandemic of COVID-19, UNT might require us to abruptly shift into remote teaching. To support you in case this abrupt shift happens, I developed this handout with some tips, tricks, and resources to make this shift easier for both you and your students.

Here are some tips and tricks for achieving that:

First, don’t try to recreate the rest of your semester.

Look at your syllabus and determine what can be easily updated for remote delivery, and what cannot. The assignments and materials that cannot be easily updated for remote delivery should be removed or adjusted accordingly.

For example, I have team assignments each week in my classes. Team assignments cannot be easily completed online without a lot of prep-work. So, I will have to let go of my team assignments and create another way to engage my students.

This is what I mean by easily updating assignments and materials for remote delivery; moving from paper to digital and not adding more to your students’ and your own workload. So, my team in-class assignments will become digital video reflections or discussion boards.

Need a crash course on Zoom or Canvas?

Go to UNT Teach Anywhere.

Seriously consider adding your lecture narrative over a PowerPoint.

This will reduce the number of people trying to use Zoom, which could lead to a crash and/or leave many of your students out since not all of your students will be able to access Zoom.

  • See How to Create Lecture Videos with Power Point (Youtube Video) tutorial.
    • Provide captioning or a written transcript for your videos.
  • Upload the PowerPoint to either YouTube or Canvas.
    • Never turned a video into a hidden YouTube video with an invitation only link? Follow the link to learn how to export the video into YouTube (YouTube Video). Go to learn how to make the video private and share the link.
      • Using that same PowerPoint, remove 2-3 keywords from each slide and replace those removed keywords with a blank space. Then, save it as a .pdf document, and email/upload that to Canvas for your students to use while they watch your PowerPoint. This is a great study tool and encourages students to engage with your digital lecture.
      • However, if you have students with visual impairments, this technique may not work for them: be sure to check on what works best for them and accommodate accordingly.

Find lectures on your topic that are already available on:

Use Respondus software to quickly move exams in Word format to Canvas format.

  • This requires two things:
  • Worried about cheating on Canvas quizzes/exams?
    • When students want to cheat, they will find a way. Furthermore, outside of the classroom, all of us are using the Internet to answer our questions. The goal is to prepare students so they know where and how to find the right answer. Therefore, I try to even the playing field for all of my students by allowing open note and book exams via Canvas. When in Canvas, you can program the exam to only release one question at a time, and stop students from going back to previous questions. Also, time-limits are incredibly helpful.

Consider assigning documentaries to supplement reading materials and increase student engagement over the break.

  • Want a digital assignment that doesn’t require much grading time?
    • You can have students submit 1-2 minute video reflections where they apply the documentary to their assigned readings. Have a rubric/parameters for these videos so students know what you expect (time limit, good grammar, address your required question, etc.). These videos can be uploaded to Canvas or YouTube as a private video. If you have students use this method, make sure they provide you the invitation only link to their video.
  • Don’t like the idea of video reflections?
    • That’s ok! You can also start a discussion board where all students have to answer a critical thinking question you post about the documentary and how it applies to the assigned reading. Here are some free and wonderful documentary resources:
    • Where can you find free documentaries accessible to students?
    • PBS is offering a free Distance Learning with PBS Media training for educators. If you want to take advantage of this opportunity on March 18th, please register for the event.

Don’t adjust your due dates.

Students will need consistency during this difficult transition. So, if a team assignment was scheduled for March 23rd, keep the March 23rd due date but replace the team assignment with something else. Suddenly allowing students to submit everything on the weekend will result in confusion and many missed assignments.

Communicate clearly and often with your students.

Send an email and Canvas announcement (if you are currently using Canvas) about the shift from f2f to remote instruction asap. Then, do it again in 72 hours, and again 24 hours before the next scheduled class time. For assignments, remind your students 48, and again at 24 hours in advance via email and/or Canvas.

  • You can find some email templates provided by Arizona State University.
  • Check your email/Canvas 4 times per day to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Offer Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams office hours by appointment to your students. Try to refrain from giving out your personal phone number. If your Internet connection will not support a visual of your students, you can simply use the audio function or call-in functions for any of these digital meeting apps.
    • Skype is available via UNT Outlook at the top of the menu bar. You will see the Skype icon:

Don’t simply turn a group/team assignment into an individual assignment.

The group/team assignment you planned was developed because you knew it would take more than one person to do the work. For example, if you assigned a 5-person group project, then remember that it will take all 5 people to successfully complete it. While it might look like an easy solution to require all students to do it as individuals, that adds unnecessary stress to your students, you, and your TA. How?

  • Students will be overwhelmed with the shift in responsibility from a team to just themselves.
  • You have now exponentially increased your grading. What was one assignment to grade for a group of 5 students now becomes five assignments to grade. Think about that across 30, 60, 100 students…
  • Yes, we have TAs to help us grade, but increasing their workload from 1 assignment per team to 1 assignment per student is an ask that will put their wellbeing at risk. So, ask yourself, “If I did not have a TA, would I be able to handle all of this grading?”

Tap into your TA as a valuable resource, because they are!

Our TAs are often tech savvy and thus, can assist you with organizing and uploading materials and assignments to Canvas. But, please don’t ask them to complete your Canvas site in its entirety. It takes about 2.5 hours to properly organize a module, upload the documents, create the assignment rubrics, add it to the grading sheet, and program a quiz. Therefore, give your TAs the materials and assessments for each module no later than one week in advance. If you start that now, you and your TA will be ahead of the game!


Organized and consistent plan will keep your students calm and reduce your work in the long run. Try your best to have Canvas or your other remote delivery plan ready by March 16th.

This will enable you to release the new plan to your students once we get our directives from President Smatresk and Provost Cowley on March 19th.

I hope these tips, tricks, and resources support your need to quickly transition from f2f to remote teaching. If you would like some other resources for transitioning to remote instruction, please review the wonderful website created by Indiana University on remote teaching transitions.