Remote Teaching – Spring 2022

Remote Teaching

Modified from the CAL Academic Technology Office.

MSU has announced that classes for the spring semester will start remotely Jan. 10 and scheduled to last for at least the first three weeks of the semester.

Remote teaching will allow the institution to continue to meet its educational mission in the face of this disruption. Remote teaching is a way to continue instruction when face-to-face meetings are disrupted and you are not able to meet in person. Teaching a fully online course requires careful planning and many hours of preparation whereas remote teaching is more reactionary in nature. Remote teaching might not afford you the ability to be overly strategic. It instead focuses on keeping continuity for what you have already started in a face-to-face environment. The steps to plan for remote teaching are to

  1. Communicate
  2. Plan
  3. Modify
  4. Implement

Step 1: Communicate to Students

As soon as possible, send an email to your students (use D2L mail feature or Registrar Instructor tools) letting them know that you are in the process of making plans for what changes will need to be made. Even if you have not yet finalized all the changes to your course, it is important to send a message to your students so they know how to reach you.

Some in-person teaching will be permitted at MSU during the first three weeks. If you plan to meet in-person during the first three weeks, be sure to contact students as soon as possible to let them know. Otherwise, they may stay at home thinking all classes will be offered remotely.

To get started, here is a sample email you might send to your class(es) that informs the students of your intent to use Zoom and/or D2L. Feel free to modify or write your own. The key is to be in communication with your students as soon as possible:

Dear [insert course name here],

I’m writing to let you know that the University is implementing a remote teaching strategy that is currently scheduled to last until January 30, 2022, in response to the novel coronavirus. What this means for you is that we will not be meeting at our normal class location. Instead, we will meet online at the same time our class normally meets, and I will be hosting the class through Zoom. We also will be using our D2L course site to deliver and collect materials for the class. To access the course, go to Once you log in with your NetID and password, you should see our course listed under “My Courses”.

Over the next few days, I will keep you informed about how our course experience will change. Know for now that we are planning to move forward with the course, and please be patient while we get things shifted for this new mode. I will be back in touch soon with more details.


[Insert your name]

Step 2: Plan for Remote Teaching

Michigan State University has shifted to remote teaching, which means your course will be moving to a digital environment. Remote teaching is a way to continue instruction when face-to-face meetings are disrupted and you are not able to meet in person.

Teaching a fully online course requires careful planning and many hours of preparation, whereas remote teaching is more reactionary in nature. Remote teaching might not afford you the ability to be overly strategic. It instead focuses on keeping continuity for what you have already started in a face-to-face environment.

In the planning step, consider your course outcomes that need to occur within the first three weeks you will be online. Which of these can be accomplished in the way you had originally planned (e.g. papers, readings, viewing assignments) and which ones will need to be modified to fit with a remote course (e.g. presentations, exhibitions, lab activities)? Make a list of what needs to change and how. If you need help brainstorming or implementing your changes, EDLI will offer some open office hours posted at the bottom of the page.

Stick to your scheduled time: Adhere to the posted course schedule as much as possible, or convert sessions / deadlines to asynchronous. Do NOT require synchronous attendance at times not posted in the schedule of courses.

As high stakes assessments can require additional technologies and skills for both instructor and students. It might be best to delay these until back in person.

Step 3: Modify Your Courses

As you think about your course and remote teaching, consider the following:

  • Look over your syllabus, identify your learning objectives and activities/assignments for the remainder of the semester.
  • Consider how to modify expectations and course elements such as:
    • Will you expect to hold online video-based classes?
      • Ensure that you schedule your online sessions during the time that your course already occupies. This guarantees that students already have the availability in their schedule and you will not be impinging on their other courses or outside obligations.
    • What tools will you use to deliver content (e.g. Zoom, Mediaspace, D2L)?
    • How will students engage with one another?
    • How will students be assessed moving forward?
    • What changes might need to be made to assignments?
    • Which activities and assignments are already being done remotely (e.g. papers, reading, etc.) and which need to be modified in order to accomplish them remotely?
  • Tell students how they can contact you and how soon they can expect a reply from you.
  • Consider using the D2L announcements and discussion board tools to push out course-level communications.
  • If you have attendance/participation requirements, consider adopting some flexibility (e.g. allow limited number of absences, makeup of work, etc.).

Step 4: Implement Your Plan

D2L is the recommended, MSU-supported tool to use as the space to host your course. Here is a list of ways to engage with D2L. If you need more help or have questions, please contact the MSU help desk at (517) 432-6200 or fill out the D2L Contact Form.

  1. Log into D2L and make sure your course is active
    1. D2L Homepage
    2. Making a Course Active
  2. Create video for students that explains what will happen since class will occur remotely. This video is not just about “how-to” but also an opportunity to set the tone of your course. You will want to use this opportunity to make connection to your students.
    1. Best Practices for Creating Video
    2. Zoom
    3. Kaltura Media Space
    4. Define required and recommended D2L behaviors
      1. Frequency of login
      2. Discussion board etiquette
      3. Tell students clearly what they need to do
  3. Send video to students
    1. Post as an announcement in D2L and send via email
  4. Plan for students without access to high-speed Internet
    1. Having all classes done over Zoom is not sustainable
    2. Provide multiple methods for students to access materials (post written materials in downloadable format, post slide decks with lecture notes or transcripts)
    3. Record all live sessions and post them in a downloadable format. Use the machine captions option in Kaltura Mediaspace.
    4. This is one of the reasons why instructors cannot require students to have their camera on for synchronous sessions. You can see the full webcam policy here.
    5. Be flexible, transparent, and generous. As with previous remote sessions, everyone, including you, are under additional pressures and burdens. Consider where you can be flexible and still be true to your course. Where can you be accommodating and generous to both you and your students? When and where can you clearly communicate policies and expectations to your students as situations change?
  5. Keep all shared documents in an MS Office format if possible
    1. All students have access to MS Office products
    2. Use the Microsoft Accessibility Checker before sharing your document.
  6. Update and Upload Syllabus
    1. Have dates changed?
    2. Have assessments changed?
  7. Create modules for the remaining weeks
    1. How to Create a Module
  8. Create assignment folders and attach dates to them
    1. Creating an Assignment Folder
  9. Recreate quizzes/exams (if there is enough time)
    1. Making a Quiz
    2. Think about possibly replacing exams with a project
    3. Think about making exams open book (if possible)
  10. Set up Zoom meetings (if planning on having live lectures)
    1. Scheduling Zoom Meeting
    2. Secure Zoom Meeting practices
  11. Begin recording lectures (if planning on having recorded lectures)
    1. Recording in Zoom
  12. Insert Zoom meeting links, or recorded lectures into appropriate week modules
    1. Adding Content to Modules 

Need More Help?

Before seeking help, try to go through as much of the process above as possible. Then identify the following to prepare you for discussions with either the Help Desk, your college academic technology specialist, workshop facilitator, or other source of assistance.

  • What do you need help with?
  • What tool(s) are you using?
  • What is your timeframe?
  • Any other information that will help?

Workshops are being held in the coming days. Confirmed face-to-face workshops are below. Online opportunities and future face-to-face workshops will be announced on the website and via messages from your colleges or department chairs.

Upcoming Workshops

EDLI will have open office hours where you can drop in and have help brainstorming about your course and how to move it online:

This modified work by CAL Academic Technology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Stephen Thomas

Dr. Stephen Thomas is a faculty member and the Associate Director for the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science at Michigan State University and the Digital Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Natural Science. He provides expertise for the EDLI team in pedagogy, curricular reform, and visual thinking.