Remote Education Resource Center

GETTING STARTED WITH REMOTE EDUCATION

Check out our remote education Q & A below to get some basic information about how to handle your classes at a distance. Click on a question to expand the section and view the answer!

When confronted by the need to move into a remote environment keep in mind these core functions: 

  1. Be aware of the guidance and resources provided by your school district and state. As educators, we are all part of larger learning ecosystems, with rules and regulations about how and when to engage with students. The rapid move into remote learning has resulted in districts and states taking different approaches to moving into the remote environment as well as providing different types of resources to teachers and students. It is critical that your remote learning plans comply with the guidance being given by your district and state and designed around the resources that are being provided to students.   
  2.  Offer guidance on how your instruction will now proceed at a distance.  The best approach is to keep it simple – do not overwhelm students (or parents) with emails. t Communicate in simple and clear terms.  Students will need to know how you will communicate (e.g. email or through an institutional learning management system or a bit of both).  Students will need regular communication on how to be successful with remote learning, including keeping them up to date as your course materials are shared electronically. 
  3. Students will need alternative methods to access materials that you would normally give them in your classroom. While mailing such materials may be an option for a few, a vast majority of teachers will likely accomplish this through electronic means.  If you have already used a learning management system (“LMS”) like Schoology, Google Classrooms, Moodle, etc., then you can store these materials in this system.  If you already use an LMS and the students access it at school on computers like Chromebooks that already have links and login information to the LMS installed, y provide these links and login credentials to students who have not previously accessed the LMS from their homes. Because not all students have internet connections of the same quality, or monitors on which they can work easily, make instructional materials available in PDF format as often as possible. As new materials become available, communicate this to students in a manageable way - again, don’t overwhelm students with emails. 
  4. Remote learning comes in different formats. A fundamental difference is whether teachers and students interact in real time (synchronously), or on their own time (asynchronously). As an in-class teacher, you are accustomed to meeting your students in real time. In the current situation, this may be impractical as parents deal with unplanned childcare and other disruptions to their normal lives. In order for your students to continue to see you in person, make short videos they can watch at any time. If you have not done this before, you can learn how to create and share videos in the technical support section of this website. If you do want to meet with your students in real time, either as a group or individually, identify how you will do this. Options include Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts.  You can find more information on these tools in the technical support section of this website. If you are able and plan to interact with students “live” via teleconferencing software, consider working with your school district on scheduling classes to mimic the current course schedule at your school. This may allow students to maintain a similar schedule to the one they are used to. However, realize that students may not have access to broadband Internet and this may not be practical. All learning management systems allow for asynchronous forms of interaction through threaded discussions forums that may be more practical. 
  5.   Continue to assess student learning. Guidance on this varies by state and district and may change based on how long we remain in remote learning.  Unless your school district is supporting remote proctoring assessments will likely be open book, open notebook, and potentially collaborative.  Considering the current challenges, flexibility will be key.  Create alternatives to your current approach of monitored assessment practices. This may include online quizzes, brief essays, discussions that are graded or other forms of assessment.

Before you begin to teach remotely,there are several things to keep in mind:

  1. Be aware of guidance being given by your state and district. As educators, we are all part of larger learning ecosystems, with rules and regulations about how and when to engage with students. Your remote learning instructional plans need to comply with these rules and regulations. And, given the fluidity of the current situation, it is likely these may change quickly over time.  For example, some places are continuing to engage directly with students and offer new instruction; while others have asked teachers to limit providing new materials and only engage in reviewing previously taught material.   
  2. Assess what resources all students have available.  There is increasing concern about the digital divide and how that will affect student learning.  Some districts have provided electronic tablets or other devices to students.  Some have not.  Some have provided these devices only to upper grades, not everyone. Some families will have access on their own to multiple devices; some may have none. Access to these devices may be further limited if there are fewer devices than there are children in the household; or if a caregiver needs to use the device for work. To the extent possible, account for these and other scenarios so all students have the ability to advance their learning. 
    Some questions you might consider:
         a. Do students have a broadband internet connection at home? If not, does a parent have access to one where they work? 
         b. Do students have a computer with a monitor and a keyboard or tablet (iPad or Android) at home? If not, do they have a smartphone (Apple or Android)? 
         c. Do students have a printer and a supply of 8½ x 11 paper? If not, does a parent have the ability to print out material where they work. 
    It is very likely some students will have few or none of these resources unless provided by the school.  
  3. Keep it simple. Teachers are experts at creating lessons plans.  We encourage you to use the same or similar process as you design your Remote Lesson Plans.  Essentially, you’ll want to design an instructional roadmap, with learning objectives, activities, and how you might assess student learning. In some cases, you may adjust your existing plans to a remote environment.  In other cases, you may identify and rely on platforms on the web to carry out the instruction. What is important is keeping student learning as the focus. Like any large task, break it into more manageable pieces.  Take one class period or day at a time and move forward from there. It will become easier as you do more.  This is new for everyone; and there will be much learning as you go.   
  4. Connect with others. All teachers in your School/District are in the same situation. Use them as both resources and sounding boards for designing your Remote Learning Plans. If you have been part of a team of teachers, consider having that team continue to work together to exchange ideas and collectively brainstorm how to deal with certain situations.  During this time of social distancing, it becomes more important to stay engaged and connected with each other.    
  5. Become familiar with communication options for students. It is very likely your School or District will have determined the way in which they would like teachers and students to remain in contact with others. If you are not already, become familiar with this platform. It will also be important to track which students are engaging with you and which are not.  You may want to keep a log of such interactions. If a student is persistently not engaging, we encourage you to work with your school leaders to explore other ways to connect with the student(s). [See also information on how remote learning works above].  

The first step to move your class online is to gather and engage your students online as a learning community. For that you need to create an online classroom space, where you will manage your students’ (and their parents’) access, communicate your expectations, post materials, and set up learning activities. For example, if your school is using Google Classroom, you will create a Classroom for each class of students you’re teaching. Watch tutorial here.

Remember that synchronous remote classes are real-time classes and use live video chat sessions. Students can attend your live class online, participate in interactive discussion, and work on assignments and tasks after the session. The assignments can be submitted through a learning management system (or through email). If you have some students who cannot participate in synchronous sessions for any reason, you should use a system that allows you to record each synchronous session so that students who miss it may replay it at another time.

Asynchronous remote learning sessions occur during different times. Students will log into a course/learning management system, read or watch a pre-recorded mini-lecture, and participate in activities based on their own schedule. 

Oftentimes, a teacher needs to combine the above two options to deliver their instruction, taking the advantages of each. For example, in a learning unit, the teacher can arrange a few synchronous sessions to teach and discuss challenging content and handle other learning activities (reading, assignments) in an asynchronous manner.

  1. Find a synchronous discussion tool such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, etc. (See “What tools can be used to support students sharing and discussion?” below for more detailed information.)
  2. Settle on a course/learning management system to house files and other material your students will need.
  3. Devise a schedule to meet with your students. Schedule one week at a time. Distribute this schedule to your students.
  4. Request/collect their email addresses so you can invite them to the synchronous sessions and send announcements. If your district is using Google Classroom or another learning management system, you may send announcements to your students’ emails from within the system.
  5. Create your lecture materials, assignments, quizzes and tests, and other documents students will need to complete the course.
  6. Upload your materials to your course/learning management system.
  7. Provide access to your course/learning management system to your students.
  8. Meet with your students online through your chosen discussion tool.
  9. Have students complete work/activities on your course/learning management system.
  10. Assess student discussions and work in a timely manner.
  11. Provide feedback on the course/learning management system.

  1. Settle on a course/learning management system to house files and other material your students will need.

  2. Provide access to your course/learning management system to your students.

  3. Create your lecture materials, assignments, quizzes and tests, and other documents students will need to complete the course.

  4. Upload materials to your course/learning management system.

  5. Create discussions for your class.

  6. Create your text of video lecture and upload it to your course/learning management system.

  7. If you have a video lecture, upload it to YouTube. You can make your YouTube video private by indicating it is unlisted in the preferences menu.

  8. Create a schedule for logging into your course, posting discussions, and completing activities and tests/quizzes.

  9. Have students read or watch your lecture in your course/learning management system.

  10. Have students participate in the discussion in the discussion tool of your choice.

  11. Have students complete work/activities on your course/learning management system.

  12. Assess student discussions and work in a timely manner.

  13. Provide feedback on the course/learning management system.

The resources made available on RemoteED.org have been evaluated by our faculty to ensure they are quality academic offerings. We have also focused on resources that are freely available. The resources have NOT been vetted to determine compliance with state and district regulations. Such regulations and their interpretations vary by state and district. We encourage you to seek guidance from your district to determine what may or may not allowable in your particular case. Note that we discourage the use of Zoom as it does not adhere to K-12 student privacy concerns.

Educators everywhere are shifting their instruction to online spaces to support their students’ learning remotely during these unprecedented times. While digital and virtual spaces cannot replace connected classroom communities, today’s tools and technologies can invite students into reading, writing, and learning experiences that mitigate the loss of class time due to the Covid-19 closures. We can connect students to digital read-alouds and texts for reading, support daily writing at home, and use world events as a springboard for learning.

To read more about supporting literacy instruction remotely, view Dr. Stephanie Affinito’s blog on UAlbany’s NY Kids website here.

The late John Goodlad, internationally acclaimed educational renewal leader, once sparked controversy among members of the Leadership Academy for The National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) when he made the following claim: “Schools are child care institutions.” After listening to a few protests, he responded: “Close schools without notifying parents in advance, and see what happens!” Discussion immediately shifted to the implications of this essential child care function.

The common law doctrine of in loco parentis (i.e. “in place of the parent”) has sent this same meta-message for over a century. Under this doctrine, parents implicitly delegate to educators selected responsibilities for their children. As educators perform parent-like roles for young people’s socialization, the schools that employ them accept shared legal obligations for students’ care and treatment. In an ideal world, parent-teacher conferences and educators’ home visits facilitate mutually beneficial communication, coordination, and shared efforts in the best interests of the child.

The shocks accompanying COVID-19 serve to illuminate all such taken-for-granted features. Clearly, schools are child care institutions. While they offer social supports and resources to all parents/caregivers, parents with jobs are special beneficiaries who may be tempted to take educators’ child care responsibilities for granted and forget to say “thank you.”

Today’s challenging times provide opportunities to strengthen relationships between parents and educators. For example, parents forced to make choices between employment responsibilities and child care come to appreciate anew all that educators and schools have provided for their families. Meanwhile, educators tasked with distance-delivered learning and instruction gain opportunities to craft effective strategies to communicate and partner with parents. The reminder here is that both sets of actors—parents and educators, particularly teachers—are experiencing considerable stress and need to work together.

Crises such as COVID-19 offer opportunities to investigate, reflect, learn, improve, and innovate in the area of family-school-community relations. To learn more, including examples of how families, schools and communities can respond to crises follow, read Drs. Hal Lawson and Aaron Leo’s blog on UAlbany’s NY Kids website here.

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