Teaching

Remote Teaching Strategies and Tools

This page integrates teaching strategies and tools for remote instruction. The seven topics encompass specific strategies and campus-supported technologies. Each topic features an expanded guide with more depth and faculty examples.

Explore these strategies:

This infographic shares 5 research-based strategies using educational technology tools.

To discuss your unique teaching and technology needs, schedule a consultation with an ATS instructional designer at instructionaldesign@ucdavis.edu. For questions about pedagogical and teaching strategies, contact the Center for Educational Effectiveness: cee@ucdavis.edu. For assistance with specific technologies, schedule a one-on-one consultation with an ATS instructional technologist using the ATS Scheduler.


Organize your course for remote instruction 

Organizing the various elements of your course provides a roadmap for students to follow throughout the quarter and allows them to focus their efforts on learning. These recommendations discuss ways to organize the various elements of your remote course.

► Plan or revise your course organization

Advance planning helps you to identify differences between in-person and remote instruction and make necessary modifications.

  • Identify your needs and priorities for remote teaching
  • Consider your class size, your students, and their technology access 
  • Check alignment of learning outcomes, assessments and activities 
  • Consider modifying your course grading structure 
  • Determine the delivery mode of your remote class sessions

Technology that supports these strategies: AggieVideo, Canvas, Canvas Assignments, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Quizzes, Canvas Syllabus, Kaltura Capture, Gradescope, Classroom Lecture Capture, SpeedGrader, Zoom

► Organize your course on Canvas

Organizing your Canvas course makes navigation easy and helps students focus on course content.

  • Segment topics into separate Canvas Modules of similar length 
  • Use consistent structure within and across Modules 
  • Give students a “roadmap” for each Module 
  • Structure your Canvas Module as you would a formal outline   

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Files, Canvas Modules, Canvas Pages 

► Organize your live or asynchronous Zoom session

Structuring your Zoom sessions facilitates learning and creates community.

  • Build structure or routine into your sessions 
  • Make the course structure or routine transparent to students
  • Familiarize yourself with technology before you teach 

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Modules, Canvas Pages, Google Docs, iClicker, PlayPosit, Zoom, Zoom Breakout Rooms, Zoom Chat, Zoom Polls

► Organize your Instructional Team

Organizing the work of your instructional team saves time and increases course effectiveness.

  • Assign roles to yourself and to your TAs
  • Communicate regularly with TAs

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas, Canvas Announcements, Canvas Assignments, Canvas Discussions, Google Drive or Docs, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Sheets, Zoom, Zoom Chat, email

Expanded guide for organizing your course for remote instruction | Back to top


Encourage active learning online

Interaction is a key component of active learning.  These recommendations provide strategies for promoting active learning by encouraging students to engage in interactions both in and out of class.

► Establish guidelines for in-class participation 

Planning interaction and establishing guidelines before you teach can help encourage active learning online.

  • Plan the types of interactions you want students to engage in
  • Teach your students how to use technology to engage in interaction in your class 
  • Regularly remind your students about the importance of participation

Technology that supports these strategies: Zoom: Chat, video and audio settings, hand raising/yes/no in participants window  

► Give interactive lectures

Using active learning strategies during your live session is a powerful way to engage students during your main Zoom session.

  • Share screens during synchronous Zoom meetings
  • Invite students to unmute
  • Take a poll and invite students to comment on the poll results
  • Remind students to raise their virtual “hands” to participate
  • Encourage students to type their questions into the Zoom Chat window
  • Assign students short (2-3 minute) spontaneous writing tasks (Quick Writes), to stimulate thinking about a topic
  • Take a break

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Discussions, Google Docs, iClicker Cloud app, Zoom: Screen sharing, audio controls, Polls, hand raising in participants window, Chat, Breakout Rooms

► Build opportunities for in-class interaction

Putting students into groups to work together to encourage student-to-student interaction can be done during live class sessions using Zoom Breakout Rooms. 

  • Facilitate small group discussions
  • Facilitate small task completion

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Discussions, Google Docs, Zoom Breakout Rooms

► Build opportunities for out-of-class collaborations

Assigning group work that students complete virtually outside of the class Zoom sessions can provide opportunities for active learning while encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning.

  • Assign a group project or assignment that spans the entire quarter
  • Assign students to small learning groups

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas, Canvas Assignments, Google Drive or Doc, Google Meet, Zoom

Expanded guide for encouraging active learning online  | Back to top


Create an inclusive class climate online

Engaging in inclusive educational practices helps students learn and is essential to UC Davis’ stated goal of promoting equitable learning opportunities for students with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. These recommendations will help you to create a classroom climate that celebrates diversity and fosters inclusivity.

Get to know your students 

Learning about your students provides insights that can inform your teaching choices.

  • Learn about your students through short surveys
  • Review student data with the Know Your Students Tool 
  • Obtain clear information about students’ access to technology 
  • Ask students for feedback about your class

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Quizzes, Google Docs, Google Forms, Qualtrics

Structure your course with equity in mind

Building equitable practices into your course improves student learning.

  • Include a diversity, equity and inclusion statement in your syllabus
  • Provide information about on campus resources and services 
  • Include diverse content in your course materials 
  • Be flexible in your approach to teaching remotely
  • Learn about online Accessibility resources
  • Use elements of Canvas to provide educational equity for all your students

Technology that supports these strategies: AggieVideo, Canvas Pages, Canvas Syllabus, Kaltura Capture, PlayPosit, Zoom

Create a safe learning environment for students

Ensuring that your students feel valued and respected enhances learning.

  • Cultivate and model a diversity mindset
  • Promote inclusive language as a shared value and practice
  • Establish course agreements that set expectations for class behavior
  • Give students opportunities to get to know each other 
  • Address microaggressions or disruptive conduct proactively
  • Continue to educate yourself on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Assignments, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Quizzes, Canvas Pages, Google Docs, Google Slides, PowerPoint, Zoom Chat, Zoom account settings and re-naming option, email

Use instructional techniques that promote equity

Choosing teaching strategies that promote equity and inclusion improves student learning.

  • Use language that is transparent to students 
  • Communicate critical information multiple times using multiple modalities 
  • Be more explicit than you may think is necessary
  • Encourage and answer student questions
  • Use strategies that encourage equitable participation
  • Review and consider implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) best practices

Technology that supports these strategies: AggieVideo, Canvas Announcements, Canvas Assignments, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Modules, Canvas Quizzes, Canvas Rubrics, Canvas Pages, Canvas Syllabus, Google Docs, Google Slides, iClicker Cloud app, PowerPoint, Zoom, Zoom Breakout Rooms, Zoom Chat, Zoom Polls, email

Expanded guide for creating an inclusive class climate online | Back to top


Design assessments to promote learning

Assessments that encourage students to actively engage with course content are a powerful tool in promoting learning. These recommendations discuss ways to create assessments that enhance the learning process.

For information on final exams and alternative assessments that can be used in place of final exams, visit the Keep Teaching Testing page:

Keep Teaching Testing page

Create assessments that are also learning opportunities

Assessments can provide students with valuable opportunities for learning.

  • Consider using multiple, low-stakes assessments
  • Give students the opportunity to learn from their errors on exams or quizzes
  • Use a progressive-build structure for your final assessments

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Assignments, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Modules, Canvas Quizzes, Canvas Rubrics, Google Docs, iClicker, PlayPosit, SpeedGrader, Zoom Breakout Rooms 

Create transparent assignments 

Clear and specific assignments help students focus on learning.

  • Write clear assignment instructions/prompts
  • Give students the rubrics you will use for grading their assignments
  • Closely align what you teach with learning activities and with specific assessments

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Assignments, Canvas Modules, Canvas Rubrics, SpeedGrader, Zoom (including Zoom Breakout Rooms)

Consider learning-centered grading 

Learning-centered grading can encourage learning, increase student motivation and save time.

  • Take advantage of educational technology tools like Canvas Rubrics, SpeedGrader, and Gradescope
  • Grade only selected assignments 
  • Use binary grading (e.g., pass/no pass) for low-stakes assessments emphasizing learning
  • Build peer review into assignments as appropriate
  • Give feedback on early drafts that students then revise

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Assignments with Peer Review, Canvas Rubrics, Google Docs, Gradescope, SpeedGrader, Zoom Breakout Rooms

Expanded guide for designing assessments to promote learning | Back to top


Build your online presence

Online “presence” can be most simply described as “being there,” and refers to the degree to which students and instructors feel that the others in the course are “real.” Compared to face-to-face courses, presence in a remote teaching setting must be much more deliberately created.

► Establish your presence at multiple points in your course

Establishing and sustaining your presence throughout the length of the course creates a supportive learning environment for your students.

  • Write a getting-acquainted post on Canvas
  • Send regular announcements
  • Use question-and-answer boards or discussion forums
  • Prepare discussion posts that invite student responses
  • Schedule synchronous interactions outside of class time
  • Reach out individually to students, as possible

► Create opportunities for students to get to know other students

Creating opportunities for students to know you and each other can promote motivation and create a sense of community. 

  • Ask students to share something about themselves
  • Use polls or surveys in class to help students get a sense of who their classmates are 
  • Build opportunities for short student-to-student interactions in each class
  • Put students into small teams early in a course

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Announcements, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Pages, Google Meet, Kaltura Capture, Zoom, Zoom Breakout Rooms, Zoom Polls, email

Expanded guide for building your online presence | Back to top


Communicate effectively with your students

Establishing and maintaining clear communication via well-defined communication channels allows students to focus on learning. Even more than in a face-to-face class, students need clear guidelines for communicating with you and for interacting with other students as they navigate your course.

► Establish and share a communication plan

Make a plan to manage your own communication and communicate relevant parts of that plan to your students.

  • Tell students how often they can expect to hear from you
  • Explain to students which channels you will use to communicate with them
  • Plan and communicate to students how quickly you will respond
  • Identify efficiencies that will allow you to answer more student questions
  • Make a plan for communicating with your TAs

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Announcements, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Inbox, Canvas notification settings, email

► Explain to students how your course will work during remote instruction

Explicitly discussing the way your course works will help students navigate your course successfully.

  • Tell students what parts of the class will occur synchronously (live) and/or asynchronously (pre-recorded)
  • Explain how you would like students to interact with course elements (e.g., Zoom and Canvas) 
  • Explain how you would like students to interact with each other
  • Proactively determine a communication plan for unanticipated events

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Announcements, Canvas Calendar, Canvas Modules, email

► Set expectations with your students about their communication and participation

Clear guidelines for communication increase the effectiveness of remote instruction.

  • Tell students how you would like them to contact you
  • Encourage students to check course resources for answers to their questions
  • Establish behavioral norms for participation

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Announcements, Canvas Discussions, Canvas Inbox, Zoom Chat, Zoom setting, email

► Communicate with your students about important campus and public health resources

Providing information about campus resources supports students’ overall well-being and ability to learn.

  • Direct students to campus resources for addressing non-instructional needs
  • Let students know that you support their personal health
  • Encourage student wellness

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Announcements, Canvas Syllabus

Expanded guide for communicating effectively with your students | Back to top


Reflect on your remote teaching practice

Reflecting on your teaching practice allows you to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement. Reflection is an important part of assessing your teaching effectiveness. These strategies help you create opportunities for reflection on your own or with colleagues.

► Take time to reflect on your remote teaching practice

Spending time thinking about your teaching practice can make your instruction more effective and more efficient.

  • Keep a teaching journal to reflect on your remote teaching practice
  • Get feedback from students by scheduling a Mid-Quarter Inquiry
  • Collaborate with colleagues on reflective activities 
  • Join a remote on-campus learning community or discussion group
  • Seek out teaching-focused organizations in your discipline

Technology that supports these strategies: Canvas Assignments, Google Docs, Google Forms, Qualtrics, Zoom, Google search, online journal databases

Expanded guide for reflecting on your remote teaching practice | Back to top