Teaching Live Remote Sessions

Many instructors will choose to hold synchronous class meetings as part of their remote instructional strategy. This guide offers considerations and resources for planning to teach live remote classes or hold other activities like office hours at a distance using a web conferencing tool.

The information on this page is important to consider regardless of which tool you use to host remote meetings. For the purposes of this guide, we will consider Zoom as the primary tool. For more information about acquiring a Zoom Pro license, visit our web conferencing guide.

As you create your own remote teaching strategy, we are available to help, both in group webinars and one-on-one. 


  • 1. Prepare an Instructional Plan
  • Set Student Expectations

    Be explicit about what you expect from students before, during, and after remote class meetings.

    What counts as participation in your meetings? What incentives do students have to be active learners?

    How should students communicate with you during remote sessions? How should they not communicate?

    Consider creating a community agreement for your class to establish values, attitudes, and ground rules.

    Create a Backup Plan

    Teaching remotely raises a number of new technical challenges for you and your students, and without guidance, students may be confused about how you plan to adapt and overcome these moments.

    Consider adding a statement to your syllabus, community agreement, or Canvas course site to preempt common issues.


    This class will regularly meet in live remote sessions hosted in Zoom. If we experience technical difficulties during a session, we will use Canvas announcements to communicate with the class.

    If the host disconnects, check Canvas announcements for information. A disconnection does not mean class is cancelled. Unless we say otherwise, we will restart the Zoom meeting and resume class.

    If you disconnect, try to reconnect to the session with the same Zoom link. If you cannot reconnect, send a message to the TA hotline to explain your situation and connect with Zoom support to troubleshoot the issue.

    Assemble an Instructional Team

    When you're teaching remote sessions, you're not alone! Consider splitting responsibilities between you, teaching assistants, and students. For example, you might assign the following duties to each group:

    Instructor: leads the session, delivers lectures, and guides discussion.

    Teaching Assistant(s): monitors and manages the chat feed, surfaces questions to the instructor, and contributes to lectures and discussions.

    Students: lead small group discussions, teach brief lessons, or present work to the class.

    Run a Practice Session

    Before launching your first session with students, plan to practice with your instructional team to work out any issues early.

    Can you schedule a meeting, invite participants, and manage the audience?

    Can participants view your video and/or screen? Can you view theirs?

    Is your audio clear and consistent for participants?

    Have you practiced using features like breakout rooms, polls, or audience feedback?

  • 2. Prepare a Remote Teaching Location
  • Select a Physical Space

    Where will you host your sessions? Consider choosing a comfortable space with adequate privacy and internet connectivity. Is there anything in the background of your space you would prefer not to show students?

    Consider Lighting

    Even, front-facing light will help you look healthy and happy, even on a webcam. Avoid facing your back to strong sources of light like windows, and consider adding a lamp or other warm light source near your teaching space to reduce shadows.

    Compose a Flattering Shot

    Whether we realize it or not, all people respond to how cameras are positioned relative to subjects. Placing a camera below or above a subject's eye line can influence the audience's sense of power; positioning it too close or too far can affect the audience's sense of personal space. For a neutral, comfortable shot, elevate the camera to be even with your eye line, and avoid being too close to the camera. To learn more about framing a shot, refer to The Rule of Thirds.

    Ensure Clear Audio

    Clear audio is critical for teaching remotely. Large, echoey spaces tend to create hollow, distant audio; smaller, softer spaces tend to create more intimate, higher quality audio. Will your teaching space be quiet and free of interruptions? Students will appreciate your attention to detail as they listen to your lessons.

  • 3. Host a Remote Session
  • Select Preferred Settings

    Some features and settings can only be modified by logging into Zoom.us with your campus account. You will want to decide on these settings before launching a session. Before you start, please review this important FAQ on Zoom Privacy and Security.

    Recommended Zoom Settings for Faculty (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)

    How Do I Keep My Zoom Meeting Private? (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)

    How can I deal with Zoombombers who crash my Zoom meeting? (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)

    Record a Session

    Recorded sessions afford students the ability to review lessons and discussions, and they can be captioned for greater accessibility and equity. In Zoom, you can choose to record to their cloud service or to your computer.

    Record to your computer (Zoom guide)
    Record to the cloud (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)
    How to save a Zoom Cloud recording to AggieVideo (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)
    How do I secure the link to my Zoom recording? (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article)
    Creating Backup Recordings for Zoom Classroom Meetings (ATS video tutorial: 1:52)

    Facilitate Active Learning

    Web conferencing tools offer a variety of tools to facilitate more active learning in your course. Consider using one or more of these to engage with your students. You can also use app-based tools like iClicker to encourage more participation from students.

    Utilize the in-meeting chat (Zoom guide)

    Facilitate small groups with breakout rooms (UC Davis Knowledge Base Article) (video: 3:37)

    Poll your audience (Zoom guide)

    Share Content

    To share content and encourage collaboration, web conferencing tools allow hosts and participants to share their screens, and a separate whiteboard feature enables anyone to contribute written content.

    Share your screen (Zoom guide)

    Collaborate with the whiteboard tool (Zoom guide)