UCI Forward

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Remote Teaching Information

Section 1

March 19, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

As we prepare for a spring quarter of remote teaching, I write to remind you about the online resources and professional development assistance at your disposal. In addition, I want to highlight ways that Schools are leveraging faculty and graduate student expertise. I strongly urge all of you to work together and share insights into unexplored ways to use technology.  

Jumping into remote teaching is not ideal for any of us, I have confidence in the creativity and resilience of the UCI instructional staff.  I am confident in our ability to channel our research talents to the challenge of this current crisis to serve our students as best we can, given our constraints.  

As you start planning your quarter, keep in mind the following:  

1.    Some things will go wrong — they always do. Be up front with your students about this from the beginning and engage them in the process. Help them understand that they are part of the process of navigating and solving the challenges before us as we model flexibility, creativity, and scholarship at its best.  

2.    We have created a quick guide to help you start this process. We are not creating fully online courses. We are taking what we do every day and translating it into a new remote medium to minimize harms during a crisis. The translation will not be perfect, but it can still provide a high-quality educational experience and keeps us all safer. You will even find some things that work better. Bring those best practices back to classroom teaching in the future. Finally, unlike a fully online course, it does not have to be complete on day one of the quarter – it will evolve throughout the quarter.  

3.    Use spring break for test runs of the technology for you and your students. If you are going to use Canvas, have the Canvas course created and published early. It can take up to an hour for the Canvas course to be created once you request it.  
If you are using YuJa (particularly useful because of its stability) and/or Zoom (particularly useful for office hours and real-time engagement), have at least one short test run for you and your students as a mini-test. Please remember that if you ask TAs to help you with these tasks, those hours count as part of their contracted hours for the quarter. 

4.    Recognize that the first week of the quarter is a “warm-up” week for both the technology and your pedagogical approach. This is a great time to evaluate what is core to your course and focus on developing the capacity of our students to direct more of their learning.   
Remember: one of our core goals is having students develop the capacity of “learning to learn,” and you will likely discover many opportunities to have them reflect on their own processes of learning as they adapt to this new instructional mode.  

5.    Carefully consider your assessment strategy for remote learning. This is perhaps an aspect of the course that is impacted in the most nuanced way, so a little thought before the course starts can have a large payoff in the end.  Usual assessment mechanisms (such as high-stakes testing) might be less feasible this term, so use the opportunity to experiment with other forms of evaluation. More recommendations on assessment can be found here

6.    Make decisions between synchronous and asynchronous modes. Both modes of instruction are valuable in a remote setting and have their advantages and disadvantages. As a minimum, for any synchronous interaction, such as Zoom, it is useful to record and to allow students to interact with it later. Also, carefully consider impacts on synchronous interactions combined with potential technical glitches and time zones on assessment.  

7.    Leverage the research on remote teaching. Once you have established the core elements of your course, some additional considerations include: (1) students often need additional support, investment, and scaffolding to move toward successful online learning that reflects self-directed philosophies; and (2) without proper scaffolding, learners may not be equally predisposed to engage in online learning that requires high levels of self-direction. There are many resources available to address these and other questions at http://digitallearning.dtei.uci.edu/ and https://www.olrc.us/

8.    Staff appropriately. Faculty are ultimately responsible for the delivery of courses and grades. Courses may have additional resources available to faculty in the form of TAs and Readers. These resources should be carefully considered, and if needed, submit requests to your Dean/Assistant Dean. These can include an increase in the appointment percentages of existing TAs and Readers, or request additional TAs or Readers. ASE appointments over 50% should be submitted via the normal approval channel and is subject to review and approval by the Graduate Division. Undergraduate Learning Assistants are also an option, updated information will be posted here.  

For many of these items, we have developed resources with more details. In particular, if you are looking for the minimal guide to start remote teaching, please go here, and you can also watch this 15 minutes “getting started” video. I do not want to minimize the challenges many of you face translating a face-to-face experience with a rich history of success to the remote world. I am confident that together, UCI can be a model to other universities in this effort. 


Michael Dennin 

Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning 

Dean, Division of Undergraduate Teaching