For technological questions, please reach out to the Digital Learning Team at x4420 or

For pedagogical, assessment, and student learning questions, please reach out to the Center for Teaching and Learning x3351, or

Note: This document was adapted from a document created by Jenae Cohn and Brian Seltzer, Stanford University, California. Their work was outstanding and served as the basis for Hobart and William Smith Colleges guide for Academic Continuity During Disruption.

Along with the three methods discussed in the previous section, there are several other additional considerations to be made when remote teaching:

Student Presentations
Written Discussions

Student Presentations

Student presentations are a good activity which can be completed either synchronously or asynchronously depending on instructor preferences and utilizations of platforms/bandwidth.  When assigning presentations, consider the following:

Pedagogical Recommendations:

  • If students are sharing their presentations asynchronously
    • Ask students to record themselves at their screen, using a web camera, the built-in microphone on their computer, and screen sharing software combined to capture both their faces/persons as well as the slides on the screen. This can either be accomplished through the Zoom record function or through other media programs found on computers, tablets and phones.
    • Upload the recording to CANVAS.  The majority of files can be uploaded CANVAS for review by the instructor.  Consider having an individual folder for each individual submission with sufficient permissions to allow only instructor and student access – unless there is instructional value in the group seeing the presentation.  In cases where the file is too large, please consider using HWS Box – a file repository accessed by HWS credentials.  Please see the HWS Box resource page for further instructions on how to use Box.
    • If students do not have access to a laptop computer or webcam, they can also use the voice memo feature on a phone to record audio, save audio files, and upload the audio files to either CANVAS or HWS Box. Invite students to share their slide decks and audio/video files separately if necessary.
  • If students are sharing their presentations synchronously: 
    • Ask students to use Zoom to give a live presentation for their peers. See previous Run Your Class Live With Zoom for suggestions and technical tips for using Zoom to this end.

Written Discussions

To remove technical hurdles and to ensure that students are able to engage with peers and each other in a discussion-based class (even without a strong Internet connection), you might choose to move student discussion to an asynchronous format. Create a CANVAS Discussion as a forum to facilitate communication, encourage students to interact, ask questions and respond to discussion prompts.

Pedagogical Recommendations:

  • Craft discussion questions to be as clear and as specific as possible so that students can build off of the question for a sustained response. See the following links for good ideas and tips on how to craft effective questions for remote instruction:
  • Assign roles to students so that they understand when and how they might respond to you or their peers. For example, students might “role play” as particular kinds of respondents or you might ask them to do particular tasks (e.g. be a summarizer, a respondent, a connector with outside resources).
  • Build in simple accountability:  Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in online discussions and collaborations.  Rather than assigning points for volume of discussion post contributions, consider asking students for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and what they learned from the dialogue.
  • Expand your definition of ‘Discussion':  Remote discussions and collaboration lack critical components of face-to-face discussion like tone of voice, body language, and general demeanor.  Alternative skills such as writing ability and ‘netiquette' become important in remote discussions. These qualities should be considered when attempting to assess the value of a student's remote contribution. 

Chat Discussions (‘Netiquette')

There are many tools available to set up a real-time chat conversation with students.  Regardless of tool, there are some rules common to all platforms which ensure a mature and productive academic discussion.  These ‘rules' are colloquially dubbed ‘Netiquette' and the main ones are as follows:

  • Use proper grammar and avoid using slang. Be clear in communication. 
  • Use a respectful tone. If someone says something that doesn't come across well, ask for clarification before assuming the worst.
  • Establish ground rules and remind learners that they want to call their colleagues into dialogue rather than calling them out or cancelling them.
  • Be aware that typing in all capital letters online indicates shouting. Use bolding, italics or *asterisks* to indicate text to be emphasized.
  • Be careful with humor and sarcasm because without hearing your tone of voice, it may be misunderstood.
  • Acronyms (LOL, etc.) and emoticons (smiles) are commonly used online but be careful not to overuse them or detract from the overall conversation.
  • Stay on topic. Don't post irrelevant links, comments, thoughts or pictures.
  • Be respectful of each other. We're all in this together. Before posting a comment, ask whether you would be willing to make the same comment to a person's face.
  • Keep in mind that everything you write is recorded and transmitted. On the Internet there are no take backs.
  • Keep in mind that you are taking a college class. Something that would be inappropriate in a traditional classroom is also inappropriate in an online classroom.


Not every class is a lecture.  Some courses follow a workshop model that mixes instructor guided or monitored student work with collaborative discussion.  Workshops are typically best handled through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous methods.  Many of the principles discussed in previous sections apply but please keep the following considerations listed below in mind as you consider how to transition your face to face workshop into a remote option.

Pedagogical recommendations:

  • Increased preparation for workshop sessions:  Many workshops have an individual or group contribution component. Consider which activities could be completed prior to the workshop time that you then could use as a start-point for your real-time workshop session.
  • Maximize workshop time:  Workshop conservations tend to be robust and large numbers of students can be too large to manage remotely.  Consider breaking the actual workshop into smaller time durations with either individuals or small groups.  Increased preparation and handling some workshop contributions prior can lead to more focused real-time segments.


One of the biggest challenges of teaching during a disruption is sustaining the lab component of classes.  Due to specific equipment requirements, labs are often hard to reproduce outside the laboratory.  There are techniques and resources available to fill some of the gaps or otherwise assist in meeting laboratory learning objectives.

Pedagogical recommendations:

  • Take part of the lab online: Many lab activities are procedure based. Procedures can be introduced through supplemental materials, video demonstrations of techniques and experiments, and student direction of laboratory surrogates through web conferencing tools.
  • Provide raw data for analysis:  In cases where the labs include collection of data and subsequent analysis, considering demonstrating how data is collected through a remote lecture or a video recording of a lab demonstration. Then provide raw sets of data for students to analyze.  This technique will not address every aspect of the laboratory experience but will engage students with the analysis of the data.
  • Virtual labs:  Though they offer a suboptimal experience, consider the incorporation of ‘virtual labs' such as those provided by the ChemCollective to familiarize students with basic procedures and analysis.  There is a large collection of virtual lab sites in the Useful Links section at the end of this guide.