Reflecting on our remote courses during the COVID-19 pandemic: What has the (rapid) transition to remote teaching taught us?


As we near the end of a most unusual spring 2020 semester at Rice, many of us are simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief and bracing for what the future holds for higher education in the coming months (and years). Although there are uncertainties about what lies ahead of us, we can take stock of the spring semester and reflect on what the rapid transition to remote teaching has taught us about ourselves, our courses, and our students.

The transition to remote teaching under pressure has provided a less than ideal situation for course redesign, but it does provide us with the opportunity to think deeply on our teaching and how our students learn. Documenting and reflecting on the changes that worked best you and your students can help us prepare for whatever lies ahead.

Documenting the Transition: Instructor Perspective

Documenting the changes you made to the course as you transitioned to a remote teaching format and any changes you made after the course went remote will provide valuable insights for future iterations of the course. Consider the following areas of course design, and reflect on a) what changes you made to a given area and b) how that change impacted your teaching and your students' learning:

  • Achievement of course learning goals;

  • Course content and delivery;

  • Opportunities for learning (activities and assignments);

  • Assessments of learning (quizzes, exams, papers, discussion, etc);

  • Grading and feedback;

  • Student engagement and connection, and;

  • Communication with students.

Documenting the Transition: Student Perspective

Collecting feedback from your students is always valuable, but it is particularly important when changes are made rapidly and with significant changes to daily life. Administering an anonymous, formative survey to your students during the last week of class will provide important feedback on how changes made to the course impacted them and their learning.

The CTE has prepared a set of 10 questions[1] for instructors to use and adapt to their needs. The questions below ask students to provide feedback on three fundamentals of instruction in both residential and remote courses: communication, connection, and engagement.

Rapid Transition to Remote Learning Survey

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about your experience in this course during the period of remote learning?

(1 = Strongly Agree; 2 = Agree; 3 = Neither agree nor disagree; 4 = Disagree; 5 = Strongly Disagree)

  1. I felt connected to other students in this course.

  2. I had good communication with my course instructor(s).

  3. There were lots of opportunities for me to engage with the course material.

  4. The course expectations were clearly communicated.

  5. I was able to successfully manage the remote course workload.

Please answer the following questions about your remote learning experience in this course:

  1. What challenges, if any, did you face while engaging in remote learning in this course? Please explain.

  2. What helpful strategies did your instructor use during the remote learning phase of this course? Please explain.

  3. Which changes to this course, introduced during the transition to remote learning, would you recommend the instructor(s) continue to use in future semesters? Please explain.

  4. What aspects of this course did not transition well to the remote learning context? Please explain.

  5. What changes to the course or the instruction would you recommend if this course had to be moved to a remote teaching format in the future? Please explain.

These questions are available as an open access Canvas quiz in the Canvas Commons for anyone who would like to survey students through their Canvas supported course. In addition, the questions can be administered to students for anonymous feedback through a variety of modalities, such as Google Forms, Qualtrics survey, or a Survey Monkey survey.

[1] The development of these questions was informed by the following sources:

Posted on April 20, 2020 by Guest User.