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Remote Only Implementation Guide

Description: This mode of instruction consists of materials and interactions where all students and instructors are remotely accessing synchronous and/or asynchronous experiences.

Pros Cons
  • Accommodates students and instructors who cannot attend on-campus classes
  • Asynchronous components offer flexibility for distributed students who have scheduling instability or conflicts
  • Allows instructor to focus on a single audience of remote students
  • Flexibility to encourage student participation as individuals and in groups
  • Outside the classroom, many students struggle with distractions, technology access, and other challenges.
  • Most students have limited experience as online learners.
  • Need to develop equivalent learning activities for students to complete synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Requires technology-enabled strategies to build course community and to facilitate instructor-student and student-student connections

General Tips

Manage your own expectations. Most new online courses usually require a minimum of three months to develop and continue to be refined over several semesters. With Fall 2020 classes slated to begin August 10, typical online course development timelines are not an option. Focus on a select number of feasible improvements that you would like to make to maximize student success in your courses.
Survey your students.
Learning more about your students, their interests and prior knowledge, can benefit any course. For remote courses, you will also need to understand how their personal circumstances impact their ability to participate. If you are using synchronous course components, do the proposed times work for all (or most) students? How many students have limited or intermittent Internet access? Survey your students early in the semester so you can adjust your plan accordingly. 
Mix your methods. You can incorporate both synchronous and asynchronous elements into your remote class. For example, you may choose to record some lecture segments ahead each week and also hold some opportunities to interact with students synchronously. Record all class sessions for students who may not be able to access live meetings and for later review.
Build course community early. Give students an opportunity to introduce themselves and model your own introduction, sharing your goals and enthusiasm for the class. Ask students to briefly introduce themselves during small group activities.
Check in regularly with students.
Students at risk of performing poorly in face-to-face courses often struggle even more in online environments when courses lack sufficient structure. Use periodic, formative assessments to understand how students are progressing, and consider targeted outreach strategies for students who may be struggling to meet expectations. You could invite students to office hours, encourage them to consult with their advisor, or refer them to
Make your course site easy to use.
Present all your course materials, assignments, and assessments in a way that is consistent, and easy for students to navigate. Many online courses include a “Start Here” page or a “Course Tour” to familiarize students with the structure and tools used in the course. Consider using the Lessons tool in Sakai to provide additional structure  for course materials, learning activities, and assignments.
Incorporate active learning and provide opportunities for student participation wherever possible. Many examples of active learning techniques for remote instruction are available through the CFE and
Focus on a small number of instructional technology tools
that effectively support your learning objectives while promoting student engagement. Design learning activities that help students meet key learning goals. Remember, you don’t need to use every feature or program at all times! If you using something other than a campus-supported technology, be sure that you and your students are clear about who to contact in case you experience problems.
Promote academic integrity. Refer to the Honor Code in your syllabus and before exams and quizzes. You might consider using alternative exam formats (e.g. open book) or designing exams in Sakai to make cheating more difficult. Spend some time with the Office of Student Conduct’s suggestions for discouraging academic dishonesty. The University is currently exploring proctoring solutions for administering remote assessments.
Leverage campus support and training resources.
Visit to learn more about designing effective remote learning experiences, available campus technology, access to research and teaching resources through UNC Libraries, and strategies for ensuring access to course materials for all learners through Accessibility Resources and Services (ARS) and the Digital Accessibility Office (DAO).

Make it Work: Synchronous

Develop a plan for managing student questions during class and make sure students understand the protocol. For example, you could ask students to use the ‘raise hand’ function in Zoom or have them post their questions to the chat. Let students know at the beginning of each class (or before) if they will be expected to participate or collaborate verbally, as they may need to find an appropriate setting.
Have a backup plan in case you experience technical problems during your session. Assign a TA or another student as a co-host in Zoom, so that they can reinstate you as host if you lose your connection and have to re-join the meeting. Install Zoom on your phone so that you can join via your cell service in case you lose Internet access.
Think through your use of breakout rooms. Consider how you will assign students to breakout rooms and how you’ll ask students to report out. Assigning roles (e.g. reporter) in breakout groups can help avoid confusion about who should speak for the group. On the technical side, make sure that Zoom can create as many breakout rooms as you will need based on your enrollment and desired group size.
Prepare your teaching assistants to successfully manage any relevant technology and ensure they are clear about their roles during class. You may need to review your settings in Sakai or Zoom.
Know your options for tracking attendance. If attendance is an important metric for your course objectives, familiarize yourself with reporting tools in Zoom that provide information on when students join and leave your meetings. You can also use polling tools like Poll Everywhere to administer quick check-ins for attendance.
Consider your privacy. While displaying your home office environment with students can help personalize the course, think about what aspects of your personal life you are comfortable sharing. For example, consider using a virtual background if you’re using Zoom. You can personalize that feature by mixing up your backgrounds and having some fun with them.

Make it Work: Asynchronous

Clearly state your expectations in a prominent, easily accessible location. Be sure to address:

  • Instructions for getting starting and accessing important course components
  • How you will communicate with students and how quickly they can expect a response from you
  • How students should communicate with you and each other
  • Minimum technological requirements (and how to meet them)

Create structured discussion prompts to promote student interaction using campus-supported technologies for asynchronous discussions, such as forums in Sakai and VoiceThread. Focus on higher-order questions that will generate conversation, and set realistic expectations for how frequently you will participate and grade students’ posts.
Smaller groups are more successful in asynchronous discussions, with higher levels of participation and critical thinking. You can use the groups tool in Sakai to divide your class into sets of 8-13 students (the optimal size according to research), each group with its own discussion forum.