Center for Teaching and Learning

Teaching remotely

On this page:

Important considerations for week one

Grading numerically or credit/non-credit

Faculty members are strongly encouraged to use the grading mode historically associated with their classes, unless there are pedagogical reasons to assign only credit/non-credit (C/NC) grades. It may be necessary to adapt your grading rubric to assess course learning goals fairly, so that you may assign a numeric grade. Individual course sections must be numeric grades only or C/NC only, not a mix of the two. If you want to make this change, you may request a change with the Office of the Registrar.

Synchronous vs. asynchronous remote instruction (live vs. recorded instruction

  • Synchronous instruction refers to instruction that is live and delivered in real time.
  • Asynchronous instruction refers to instruction that is recorded

Can I choose whether to go live or record? 

  • Ultimately you are the best judge of the pedagogical needs for your course.Determine what is required to achieve the desired learning outcomes and best supports student learning. Consider your own comfort level in working with the technology necessary to achieve your course objectives.
  • Consider student needs, and learn whether students have any concerns. Survey students directly to learn whether they may have internet connectivity issues, difficulty accessing certain online content, and/or may be dealing with illness or family emergencies, or live in different time zones, and any other concerns. This survey can include questions on the level of experience students have with specific Canvas tools, Zoom, and/or Panopto. Let them know that their responses will guide your instruction and will be anonymous. 

How can I accommodate students who face challenges joining live? 

If students encounter obstacles in joining a live event, consider these alternatives:

  • Record and post your live events for students to review at a later time.
  • Determine an alternative means for participation points.
  • Don’t factor in attendance as part of grading.
  • Provide additional time to complete real-time exercises/quizzes.

Must live instruction occur during the assigned day/time?

  • Yes. If instructors elect to use synchronous instruction they must do so during their assigned day/time in the UW time schedule (Pacific Time Zone) to avoid creating schedule conflicts for students.
  • In some cases, it may be appropriate to record and post a live lecture for review later by students. 

What else can I do to prepare? 

  • Clearly communicate with students what technologies they will use and how to access those technologies.
  • During the first week, test the technologies with your students, and determine if any changes will be required.

What tools support synchronous and asynchronous instruction? 

A variety of online tools are available for instructors to deliver content online to suit your course’s needs:

  • Synchronous delivery: There are a number of tools available to UW instructors to engage students in real time, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs/Slides, Canvas Conferences, Skype, and others. Learning Technologies and UW-IT have documentation and training available to support instructors. 
  • Asynchronous delivery: The UW supports a number of tools that can be used to engage students asynchronously including email, Panopto (for recorded lectures), Canvas, Piazza, Google Docs/Slides.

Lastly, we ask that you please be flexible, understanding and compassionate — with yourselves, as well as your students.

Privacy/FERPA statement to include in your syllabus

If you plan to record your class sessions, be sure to include this statement from the UW Privacy Office in your syllabus:

This course is scheduled to run synchronously at your scheduled class time via Zoom. These Zoom class sessions will be recorded. The recording will capture the presenter’s audio, video and computer screen. Student audio and video will be recorded if they share their computer audio and video during the recorded session. The recordings will only be accessible to students enrolled in the course to review materials. These recordings will not be shared with or accessible to the public.

The University and Zoom have FERPA-compliant agreements in place to protect the security and privacy of UW Zoom accounts. Students who do not wish to be recorded should:

  • Change their Zoom screen name to hide any personal identifying information such as their name or UW Net ID, and
  • Not share their computer audio or video during their Zoom sessions.

Get started

  • Start simple. Pro tip: don’t try to learn every technology and every Canvas feature.
  • Put learning first, technologies second. First consider what you want students to learn to do (e.g., conduct scholarly research), how you will know if they’ve learned it (e.g., research paper, annotated bibliography or literature review), how assignments will be graded and which assignments or activities are ungraded (to give students practice). Then, begin identifying which technologies can help your students.
  • Explain if this is new to you. If you are new to remote teaching, tell your students that you don’t have it all figured out yet. Most likely, learning online will be a new experience for many of them, as well.
  • Be clear from the start. Make sure that your expectations and course logistics are easy to find in your syllabus. Consider spending part of your first class session acknowledging this new reality and reviewing your expectations and logistics.
  • Expect students to stay informed. Students should take responsibility for staying connected and up-to-date on assignments and due dates. Tell them where and when you will share information, such as on the homepage of your Canvas course.
  • Encourage students to use the technology. Remind them to seek help from classmates, UW workshops, and online resources to learn the technologies you will be using to teach. Post links to these resources in your Canvas course.
  • Understand that not all students will have access to the same technology or internet connection. For example, some students may not have a camera on their laptop and may need to join a session by phone. Be prepared to work with students who have technological challenges. Direct them to the Student Technology Loan Program.
  • Ask students to create a dedicated space where they live for participating in online classes. Encourage them to coordinate with roommates or family members so that they aren’t competing for network bandwidth when attending a class.
  • Learn how to improve connectivity and about resources that internet service providers are offering. For students in need, let them know that emergency aid may be available.
  • Anticipate varied accessibility. Ensure that your online course content is accessible to all students, including those with disabilities, those with different devices and internet service, and those living in different time zones. Canvas provides an accessibility tool. For additional information, see Getting Started with Accessibility.
  • Establish equitable norms and practices.
  • Instructors teaching at UW Bothell or UW Tacoma have additional resources:

Put classroom activities online

Identify which technologies work best for common classroom activities, while reviewing logistical and pedagogical considerations.

Choose the right technology

  • For classes up to 50, Canvas covers most needs – announcements, live lectures, discussions, small group work, and grade tracking. You will still need to use GradePage to submit grades to the registrar.
  • For classes larger than 50, Zoom is ideal to host lectures.
  • For classes of any size, Panopto Lecture Capture allows you to record lectures and post them online for students to review outside of class time.
  • For FERPA compliance, use UW-supported technologies including  Panopto, Zoom, Canvas, Office365 and Google G Suite. These technologies have comprehensive agreements in place to help the UW protect the privacy of personal data and manage information security risks. Please be cautious about using other technologies, which may not include an appropriate agreement or adequately protect individuals’ privacy. See IT Connect for information about UW-supported technology.
  • While the UW offers other online tools — Office 365 Microsoft Teams and Google G Suite — try to minimize the number of tools you and your students must learn.

Post materials

Use Canvas to put materials online. Course sites are automatically created for each course in Canvas each quarter.

Announcements and other communications

  • Use Canvas Announcements instead of email to communicate with students.
  • For social media, consider using UW Yammer, which is FERPA-and HIPAA-compliant. SnapChat, Twitter, and Facebook are not FERPA– and HIPAA-compliant.
  • Lastly, establish clear expectations for how frequently and where students should check for announcements and other communications.

Lectures and discussions: recorded and in real time

Use Canvas Conferences or Zoom to hold class sessions, depending on the number of participants, and whether you require specific features.

  • With Zoom, each class session (“meeting,” in Zoom-speak) is assigned a specific link, which you share with your students in advance. At the time/day of the class session, students click the link to join you in Zoom.
  • Use Panopto to record your lecture to post ahead of time or after class
  • Survey students with Poll Everywhere for in-class responses.

Small group work

For group work, organize groups with Zoom’s breakout rooms or Canvas Student Groups.

  • With Zoom’s breakout rooms, students can also schedule their own online study groups.
  • Canvas Student Groups are like a smaller version of your course and are used as a collaborative tool where students can work together on group projects and assignments. Learn more about Canvas student groups.
  • Consider these differences between Zoom and Canvas.
    • In Zoom:
      • Breakout rooms are unlimited and can be pre-assigned.
      • Sessions can be recorded but only for sessions taking place in the main room, not breakout rooms.
    • In Canvas Conferences:
      • Breakout groups are limited to eight groups.
      • Screen share isn’t available on Safari.
      • Sessions can be recorded, but recordings are only available for 14 days and cannot be saved offline.
  • For real-time collaboration on documents, consider using Office 365 Microsoft Teams or Google G Suite.
    • UW Office 365 Microsoft Teams provides chat-based workspaces for real-time collaboration and communication, meetings, and file and app sharing. It is both HIPAA- and FERPA-aligned.
    • Google G Suite allows for real-time collaboration, communication, and file creation and sharing. The G Suite includes Hangouts, Docs, Drive, Sheets, and Presentations, Gmail, Calendar, and Sites. Note that many, but not all, G Suite apps are FERPA–aligned.

Quizzes, exams and alternatives

Create online exams using Canvas quiz, and learn additional strategies for adapting quizzes online. Consider offering open-book or open-note exams, or another way of assessing student learning and preparation.

Individual and team presentations

Students can give live presentations using Zoom. They also can record videos of their presentations using their smartphones, Panopto, or Zoom, and then upload them to Canvas.

Student work submissions

Students can submit work (homework, final papers, or projects) through Canvas, Google Drive, Dropbox, or email.

Office hours

Virtual office hours, through Canvas Conferences and Zoom, allow you to meet with students one-on-one or in groups.

  • Video or chat? – Canvas Conferences allow you to broadcast real-time audio and video, access a digital whiteboard, upload files (.ppt, .doc, .pdf, etc.), and to share your desktop screen to demonstrate applications and online resources. Conferences can be created with as many users as needed, though we recommend a limit of 100 users.
    • Canvas Chat stores written conversations so that students can review them asynchronously after the conversations have ended.
  • Drop-in vs. scheduled? Students can drop in to a conference or chat you host during set office hours. To schedule appointments, you may use Canvas Scheduler.
  • Leverage asynchronous discussions – Canvas Discussions support ongoing dialogue within different topic threads, the most important of which can be pinned to the top. Discussions can be especially useful for posting FAQs in large courses to reduce repeat question-and-answer emails.

Grading

Evidence-based Teaching

Evidence-based teaching uses active learning strategies to increase student engagement and achievement. This approach closes achievement gaps between students from underrepresented groups and other students. It also increases learning for all students. Consider joining an EBT peer group that meets a few times a quarter to give and receive support for teaching remotely.

Likely you already use active learning strategies in your in-person courses. To find out how to use those strategies online, take a look at our active learning resources.

Technology how-to guides

Canvas – Learning Management

Zoom – video conferencing

  • Use Zoom for classroom or meeting space – Zoom supports teaching and learning activities that you and your students do at the same time. You can use Zoom to schedule and hold class sessions and office hours. Each class session (meeting, in Zoom terminology) gets a link, which you share with your students. At the time/day of the class session, students click the link to join you in Zoom. You can record class sessions and save them to the cloud for students to review.
  • Get started – Go to washington.zoom.us and sign into Standard UW Zoom. You might want to invite a colleague to a meeting and have a practice session, trying out various features. Decide on a day and time, open a Zoom meeting, and click the Invite button to invite anyone with a UW Zoom account to join you in your meeting.
  • Sign in – Go to washington.zoom.us and sign in to Standard UW Zoom.
  • Invite people to a scheduled meeting
  • Invite people to an ad hoc meeting – In the Zoom meeting, find the Invite+ button on the bottom of the Zoom screen, then click it. A window will open showing the names of people at the UW who have Zoom accounts. In the field near the top of the window, start typing the name of the person you want to invite. When their name appears, click it. Zoom sends an invitation to join you in your meeting.
    • Alternatively, click Copy URL and then paste the meeting link in email or Slack.
  • Join a meeting
  • Share your screen – When you are in a meeting, find the green Share button on the bottom of the Zoom screen, then click it. A window will open showing several options for sharing. By default, your desktop will be selected. Choose what you want to share. At the bottom of the window, click Share.
  • Use Zoom when teaching with Canvas – On March 25, Zoom will be available inside of Canvas. This UW teaching guide reviews the Zoom interface and explains how to schedule and start online class sessions and set up office hours from within your Canvas course

Panopto – lecture capture

Use Panopto to record and review videos from courses, lectures, and presentations.

FAQs

Illness and absences

How do I know if students are really sick when they miss class? Can I ask for a medical note?

No medical note is required.

What if I, or one of my family members, get sick?

Follow the UW’s latest recommendations for what to do if you feel sick.

If you are home sick and teaching using Zoom, we recommend that you either teach via Zoom at the same time as your class, or be prepared to upload your content so that students may view it any time and from any location.

What if my TA gets sick?

Your TA should stay home. If the course is already using Canvas, make sure that records continue to stay up to date. Anyone with a teacher or TA role can enter grades or give feedback as needed.

Equity and access

How do I design a course for universal access?

  • Assume that not all your students have 24/7 access to reliable Wi-Fi, and build that assumption into your course.
  • Consider the devices students have access to. Laptops? The UW’s Student Tech Loan Program has just increased the number of laptops available to loan. But some of your students may no longer be close to campus or have concerns about coming to campus. We can’t require them to come to campus. Smartphones? Students can do Zoom video-conferencing via smartphones. Other cellphones? Students can do Zoom audio-conferencing via their phones.
  • Like instructors, some students have a lot of experience using Canvas tools (and/or Zoom and/or learning with Panopto). Others may not. Try to limit the number of tech tools you’re using, so that your learning curve, and that of your students, is less steep.

How do I accommodate individual students with disabilities?

I’m hoping to have live synchronous discussions. How do I know what time zone students are in?

Consider giving a quick, multiple choice, anonymous, confidential survey before the first day to ask students about:

  • Their time zone
  • Levels of experience with particular Canvas tools
  • Whether they’ve used Zoom before
  • If they have reliable wifi access and devices

Be explicit about why you are asking so that students understand you’re building a course where everyone has equal access and potential for success.

What should I do when not all students have 24/7 reliable Wi-Fi access?

ot all students have 24/7 reliable wifi. What should I do?

  • Aim to make as much of your content asynchronous as possible.
  • Don’t require synchronous sessions.
  • Consider recording synchronous sessions so they can be accessed by students who were unable to connect at that time.
  • Don’t rely on short windows for test/exam submissions.
  • If you post recorded lectures, provide transcripts or notes when possible, so that students can access the content even if they can’t reliably stream videos.

What other strategies can I use to make my class more inclusive?

  • Include content from multiple perspectives. As you are moving content online, consider adding new perspectives that have been historically excluded from research in the field.
  • Create a respectful and productive learning environment. Work with students to create ground rules for your synchronous discussions, and discuss how you’ll handle “hot moments” or microaggressions that emerge–especially those that happen in breakout rooms or other spaces where you aren’t there to address them in the moment.
  • Provide clear expectations for students’ success and avenues for finding support. Be explicit about what students need to do to succeed in this class, and what resources are available to them if they are struggling.
  • Gather students’ feedback on their learning experience in the class. Use anonymous surveys or polls at various times during the quarter to find out from students what is helping them learn, and what is impeding their learning beyond the lack of in-person interactions. After reading their feedback, share any small changes you can make to improve their learning.
  • Find more ideas on our inclusive teaching strategies page.

Does UW loan laptops to students?

Yes. See below. Bear in mind, that some of your students may not be anywhere near campus and can’t return to borrow a laptop. Even if students are local, they may not be able to come to campus. So share this option with students while making it explicit that there are good reasons some people might not be able to take advantage of the option.

FERPA and privacy

May I record students while they sit for an exam?

Generally, no. Instructors must ensure that their in-person and remote exam practices are consistent. If an exam would not be recorded when administered in-person and the instructor’s syllabus did not communicate at the start of the quarter that the exam(s) would be recorded, then instructors may not record students when they sit for an exam remotely. However, if instructors would ordinarily observe the behavior of students taking exams in-person, students may be asked to switch on the video feature in an online conferencing solution provided they are not recorded. At the beginning of the exam, the instructor should state that individuals are not permitted to record the exam.

If an in-person exam would have ordinarily included a recorded component (ex. a recorded oral presentation, dance or music performance, etc.) and instructor’s syllabus communicated at the start of the quarter that the exam(s) would be recorded, then recording students while remote is permissible. However, instructors must retain the recording under the same retention schedule as they would have retained an in-person recording, and the recording would become part of the student’s educational record.

Instructors must also be mindful of student equity when requiring the use of any technologies for remote exams.

Instructors may need to:

  • Refer students who are residing locally and whose health and personal circumstances permit visiting campus to the Student Tech Loan Program for access to devices that meet the technical requirements for online conferencing
  • Make adjustments for students who do not have access to appropriate devices.

Privacy best practices for online conferencing are available on the UW Privacy Office’s website

May I record one-on-one conversations or meetings?

Generally, no. If a meeting or one-on-one conversation would not be recorded when in-person then it should not be recorded when working remotely.

The UW Privacy Office is consulting with the UW Division of the Attorney General’s Office to evaluate the legal issues related to recording one-on-one conversations, meetings, group activities, instruction, and events. As we are working on broader guidance the below table is a best practice.

Appropriate use of online conferencing solutions:
Audio (host) Audio (attendee) Video (host) Video (attendee) Recording (host) Recording (attendee)
Classroom instruction (ex. lectures and presentations) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes¹ Yes¹
Classroom exams Yes No Yes Yes No² No²
1-on-1 meetings or conversations Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Staff meetings Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

¹Recordings that are personally identifiable to students (e.g., have a student’s image or audio question) are educational records and subject to FERPA protections. Access to such recordings may need to be limited to the instructor and students who are enrolled in the specific class. See FAQ on “Can I share recordings I make of Zoom classes?”

²If an in-person exam would have ordinarily included a recorded component (ex. a recorded oral presentation, dance or music performance, etc.), recording students while remote is permissible. See FAQ “May I record students while they sit for an exam?”

Can I share recordings I make of Zoom classes?

Not publicly. Zoom recordings that include a student’s voice, face, and/or any reference to student records are an educational record protected by FERPA. Access to such recordings may need to be limited to the instructor and students who are enrolled in the specific class. Zoom has signed a contract with the UW and is designated a University of Washington school official under FERPA.

Get help

  • Join virtual office hours (workshop schedule and sign up) offered by Learning Technologies, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and tech-savvy faculty. Arrive late, leave early, listen to other questions from faculty.
  • Attend the online workshop on “Intro to teaching with Canvas, Zoom, and Panopto” (workshop schedule and sign up) offered by Learning Technologies and tech-savvy faculty.
  • Visit the Facebook Pandemic Pedagogy Public Group. Instructors share their experiences and pro tips on teaching remotely.
  • Request a departmental or other group session from the Center for Teaching and Learning via our request form.
  • And don’t forget you can always meet with your colleagues over Zoom to discuss what they’re doing.