5 Low-Tech, Non-Zoom Ways to Teach Online

Decorative: A "No Zoom" sign


"5 Low-Tech, Time-Saving Ways to Teach Online During Covid-19" (post) outlines "five low-tech, time-saving asynchronous [not real-time] techniques that will make your remote pedagogy easier and more interesting for you and will help your coronavirus-stressed students."

  • "All five can be used via [mycourselink/D2L] and don’t require you to figure out any new tech tools."

A. Key Conceptual Shifts

1. "The concept of class time is very different in asynchronous instruction."

  • "You’re used to thinking of teaching in discrete, 50-to-90-minute chunks — planning what happens in each session and what students are supposed to do outside of class."
  • "[S]tart thinking of class as something that takes place over the course of a week as students log in at different times of the day or night, depending on when they have access to technology."

2. "Don’t think about what you and your students will do during a particular class session."

  • "Structure online activities around your course goals."

3. "[R]emote teaching is a different format [than classroom teaching] and so requires a different approach. 

B. Practical Strategies

  • Each point is elaborated more fully in the text.

1. "Post static content for students to read and watch." 

a. "Students can get a lot out of high-quality readings and videos that you’ve selected from existing sources."

  • For example,"online textbooks, articles, blogs, videos from credible news outlets, TED Talks ... and even YouTube, where you can find a lot of great instructional videos ... from professors around the world who teach your subject matter."

b. "Or create your own content, including written-out lectures, narrated slide-show videos, or highlights and summaries of other course materials."

  • "[Y]ou can reuse all of the content that you’ve curated and created, so the effort required now will pay off in future semesters."

c. "Two key considerations"

  • "Point out the important elements of your static content."
    • "For example, give students questions to guide their viewing and reading, explain how one piece of content builds upon the previous, and describe the context for, and the purpose of, each reading or video."
  • "Hold students accountable for their learning (see strategy No. 2)."

2. "Use the quiz and assignment functions in [mycourselink/D2L] to make sure they’re 'doing the reading.'" 

  • "[C]reate quizzes and other required assignments that help students engage with the course content and demonstrate their learning."
  • "Students are unlikely to do the activities unless they are worth points, so make sure they are required."
    • "And make sure they are simple: To see if the students have read or watched the material, give an autograded, multiple-choice quiz with a restricted time setting."

3. "Wake up to the learning potential of asynchronous text discussions." 

  • "[T]hat’s where the real teaching and learning happens in online classes." 
    • "A well-designed online-discussion prompt not only creates strong social interaction among students but also fosters and deepens their learning."
  • "Craft nuanced, debatable questions that encourage students to relate new concepts to their own lived experience."
    • "Provide clear instructions, checklists, or rubrics so that students know what you want them to post, when, and how often."
  • "Pop in to the discussion at preset times each week, so you can facilitate their co-construction of knowledge with additional questions, clarifications, and nudges."

4. "Create a routine, reliable weekly schedule." 

  • "Help your students with their time management by establishing a regular flow and rhythm for the week ."
  • For example, "quizzes on Thursdays; their initial online discussion posts are due Wednesdays, with replies due Saturdays; written assignments due Monday night, reflecting on the previous week’s learning."

5. "Make frequent, strategic, and highly visible appearances online." 

  • "[A] for lots of publicly posted classwide messages. Think one-to-many communication."
    • Not "lecturing"
    • "[L]ow-tech communications that everyone can read, watch, or both."
    • "Your class announcements, your replies in discussion forums, and your summaries of course material — all of those can be typed up and posted for all students’ benefit."
  • "[C]reate a weekly schedule for classwide posts that will have the most bang for the buck."

C. Low-Bandwidth, High-Immediacy Matrix from "How Low-Bandwidth Teaching Will Save Us All"

Bandwidth & immediacy chart showing low-bandwidth, high-immediacy activities (pre-recorded audio & videos, asynchronous discussions with audio or video), low-immediacy, low-bandwidth (discussions with texts & images, reading with text & images, email), high-bandwidth & high-immediacy (video & audio conferences), low-bandwidth, low-immediacy (collaborative documents, group-chat and messaging)

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