This advice is for teaching remotely 300 level courses in the social sciences.

  1. Record lectures for students to watch at their leisure!
  2. Use class time for processing the materials with the class.
  3. Have small concept processing assignments based on the material due before class.
  4. Have the students share short processing assignments during class or in breakout groups.
  5.  Once in a while, write the key points from discussion down on a sheet of paper with big markers and show it to the class now and then. At the very least, this makes them laugh.
  6. Map complex topics using concept mapping. My students taught themselves how to make their own from the cmap website. We shared them on Moodle.
  7. Keep having metacommentary patter each week to remind the students of the “arc” of the class and how the topic fits in.
  8. Find a lot of documentaries and short videos to give them visuals to look at on their own time — this not only imprints good information in their brain, but it gives the class a shared narrative to analyze, muse over, pick at, and return to again and again during the semester.
  9. END CLASS EARLY WHEN ALL WORK IS DONE — after all, with those recorded lectures, they’ve already done extra class time, correct?
  10. Invite in guest speakers! You’d be shocked at how many alumni are completely thrilled to come to class to talk about the topic. It’s amazing. And it’s a bit disconcerting how much the students LOVE having guests. But don’t worry — the students are getting a LOT of you (remember all the lectures you’re recording?).  I’ve found that what the guests say seem to stick with them more than what I say. The change of person might make the students more alert. Or it feels more special, so they feel honored to have a guest there. Whatever. It aids learning!
  11. Model honesty. When I’ve spaced out partway through a student question, I admit it and ask for them to say it again. Now I hear them say it — the whole class will be silent and then someone will bravely say, ‘Wait, could you ask that again?”  Hey, we’re all in this together.
  12. Remember, end class early and often!  I’ve required them to watch hour-long documentaries and listen to 20 min lectures on their own time — use the in class time to process the material. Once you’re done, you’re done.
  13. My midterms were better than I’ve ever seen in 12 years of teaching this class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!