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High Leverage Teaching Practices for Remote Teaching

CONVEYING CONTENT

In-Depth Analysis
Prepared by Raffaella Borasi, Center for Learning in the Digital Age

Use this webpage as a resource to inform the design of specific learning activities aiming at conveying content online. While created specifically for online/remote settings, many of the considerations reported here are applicable to face-to-face instruction as well.

Watch VIDEO as introduction

Explore by clicking on “+” across the page

Plan implementations of this practice (using the Summary Handout)

Reflect on your implementations (using Journal Template)

(If desired) Add to the In-depth Analysis and Summary Handout

You can save precious synchronous class time by having students access most of the course content asynchronously online. This could involve presentations and other materials you created specifically for your students, or “published” multi-media content you selected for them.  Each of these options, as well as the specific media you choose, has its own advantages and disadvantages, which you need to consider when making decisions about the online resources you assign to your students.

  • Freeing up class time for activities requiring synchronous interaction.
  • Enhancing students’ understanding of the materials by providing them with the opportunity to review content at their own speed, interrupting and repeating as needed, stopping to take notes, and possibly using different modalities that may be more conducive to their learning preferences.
  • Leveraging the unique affordances of different media to conveying content/information to students in the most effective way possible.
  • Allowing for more choice and differentiation
  • Preparing students to be life-long independent learners by empowering them to access content online on their own
  • Long readings may be more intimidating/ less accessible than live presentations:
    • Use a variety of formats
    • Share with students techniques to more effectively read complex texts
  • Preparing online materials can take a lot of time (and not be easy to create):
    • Limit the documents you have to create to a minimum
    • Develop an expectation that what you create is not “polished” as published materials
  • Finding the “right” materials to include as online multi-media readings (as there are so many out there!):
    • Develop strategies to search for online content (including asking colleagues, join user groups, etc.)
    • Leverage your librarian’s expertise!
  • When content is conveyed fully online, students do not have the immediate opportunity to ask clarifying questions to the instructor:
    • Provide students with opportunity to ask questions via email, discussion boards, chat, etc.
  • Value of using a variety of media to engage students’ attention and appeal to diverse learning styles
  • Power of giving students choices whenever possible
  • Importance of “knowing your students”, so you can provide them with content of appropriate level of difficulty and quantity
  • Quality of video or scanned text matters
  • Value of “introducing” students to the online content you want them to engage in
  • What you ask students to do with the online content will make a big difference!
  1. Choose content of appropriate level of difficulty and quantity for your audience – and keep it short!
  2. Use a variety of media to engage students’ attention and appeal to diverse learning styles
  3. Give choices whenever possible
  4. To save time, leverage published content so as to limit the documents you have to create
  5. Think of ways to “introduce” students to the online content you want them to engage with
  6. Ensure quality of video or scanned text, and easy online access to all materials
  7. What you ask students to do with the online content will greatly affect their learning!

Summary Handout (PDF) (Word) – 1-page summary you can print out and use as reference

Journal Template (PDF) (Word) – fillable pdf to record your experiences with this practice

In-depth Analysis (PDF) (Word) – Document version of the content of this page, which you can personalize if you wish by adding your own notes

Key instructional decisions

(click on each item to show options, along with their pros & cons)

Option: Advantages Limitations
Written text (different genres)
  • Can be easily annotated
  • Can be easily skimmed and revisited
  • Easy to modify/create excerpts of
  • Teacher can choose the genre that is most appropriate to the topic and audience
  • Familiar to students
  • Long readings may feel intimidating
  • Some students have difficulty processing written text
  • Reading a text online may be tiring (but it could always be printed!)
  • Less accessible to younger students
Annotated PowerPoint
  • Can provide a visual aid as well as written text
  • The slides may help provide a summary
  • Slides can be easily skimmed and revisited
  • Not as effective as a live or recorded presentation

 

Video
  • Many students prefer this modality
  • Can be more engaging (especially if professionally produced)
  • Can include visuals and/or animations that make explanations of complex phenomena easier
  • Can be used to replicate what done in live lectures
  • Ideal to show phenomena and processes that cannot be replicated in the classroom
  • Takes more time to create or to edit the portion you want students to watch
  • Very difficult to annotate
  • Difficult to skim/ revisit
Hyperlinked multi-media documents
  • Allows immediate and “organized” access to a combination of multimedia
  • Easily allows for choice and differentiation
  • Difficult to control students’ access if it is a public domain website
  • May be confusing for young learners
  • Takes more time and technical skills for a teacher to create
Option: Advantages Limitations
Published materials
  • Professional quality – especially for videos!
  • Can accomplish things teachers may not be able to do on their own
  • Brings in external credibility
  • It may be difficult and time consuming to find exactly what you are looking for
  • You may need to provide sufficient orientation and scaffolding to use what available
Teacher
  • Can be created to match your specific goals and audience
  • Helps create “teaching presence” and personal connection with the teacher
  • May take significant time to create
  • Will not be of the same “professional quality” as published materials
Students
  • Enables students to learn from each other
  • Helps create a learning community
  • Students may be able to explain something in ways that are more accessible to their peers
  • May contain errors/ misconceptions – so the teacher may need to vet before sharing, or be prepared to deal with the potential errors
Guest speakers
  • Brings in specialized expertise, with a personal dimension and opportunity to ask questions
  • Brings in external credibility
  • Teacher can prepare the guest speaker and the students in advance to make the most of it
  • Teacher cannot always control the content and level of complexity of the presentation
Option: Advantages Limitations
None
  • Simplest and least time consuming
  • Leaves more room for students’ choice and creativity
  • Some students may be left not knowing what they should try to get out of the “readings”
General
  • Can provide students with a general sense of what they should get out of a set of “readings”
  • Does not require much class time/ time to read
  • Some students may need more direction related to specific “readings”
Specific to each “reading”
  • Can help students appreciate what each “reading” is intended to contribute to their learning

 

  • Will require more class time/ time to read
  • Will require more teacher’s time to create

Useful online tools

Having access to a Learning Management Systems (such as Schoology, Google Classrooms, Canvas, Blackboard) is a great advantage when conveying content online, as it enables the teacher to store and retrieve as needed a rich set of digital materials for a given course, and then make it accessible to students in smaller “chucks”, as needed for specific lessons or assignments.

Even if your institution has not invested in a Learning Management System, there are stand-alone apps (such as Padlet and Flipgrid) that allow teachers to post digital content using a variety of media, in a way that can be easily accessed by every student.  Several of these apps allow to post not only written text, but also videos, digital photos, and even voice recordings.  It may be cumbersome, however, for both students and teachers to keep track of the digital content shared overtime.

Platforms like Zoom or Google Meet allow to convey content through live presentations from teacher, students and even outside experts willing to join in as guest speakers.  These presentations can be easily recorded and made available for future reference.

Software such as PowerPoint or Google Slides enable instructors – as well as students – to create valuable visuals to support either live or pre-recorded presentations, thus providing for a powerful way to convey content that is customized to a specific audience.

Today’s there are many easy-to-use video-recording tools that enable teachers and students to record presentations that can then be posted and made available through a Learning Management System or other “sharing” apps.  One of the easiest ways to record presentations is to use the recording capabilities built into synchronous session platforms like Zoom. There also easy-to-use video-editing tools, like Camtasia, that be used to enhance recorded presentations, so as to make them more effective.

Options worth considering

(click on each item for comments about that option)

  • Easiest for students to annotate and revisit
  • Can choose genre and level of difficulty most appropriate for the audience
  • May turn off some students
  • Specific reading strategies may need to be offered for struggling readers
  • Less accessible for younger students
  • Many students prefer this modality
  • Can be more engaging
  • Ideal to show phenomena and processes that cannot be replicated in the classroom
  • Cannot be annotated or easily revisited
  • Allows immediate and “organized” access to a combination of multimedia
  • Easily allows for choice and differentiation
  • Difficult to control students’ access if it is a public domain website
  • May be confusing for young learners
  • Most efficient, as it can be designed to specifically match specific goals and audience
  • Can be deployed at the “right moment” within an activity
  • Should be kept short, so as not to take up too much synch time
  • Helps create “teaching presence” and personal connection with the teacher
  • Can be designed to specifically match specific goals and audience
  • Visuals in the slides can help highlight key points and hold students’ attention
  • Can be revisited – with slides providing a visual to identify specific parts of the presentation
  • A choice can be given to watch the video-recording and/or “read” the annotated Powerpoint version
  • Can save precious synch time
  • Enables students to learn from each other
  • Helps create a learning community
  • Students can easily annotate and revisit their classmates’ reports
  • Some students may not like to have to read long written texts
  • Can save precious synch time
  • Enables students to learn from each other
  • Helps create a learning community
  • Students may be more interested in watching a short video than reading a report
  • Can save precious synch time
  • Easier to get the guest speaker’s commitment when travel is not involved!
  • Brings in specialized expertise, with a personal dimension and opportunity to ask questions
  • Brings in external credibility
  • Teacher should prepare the guest speaker and the students in advance to make the most of it