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Transition to remote teaching: where do I start?

Things to keep in mind

Principles of course design are the same for a face-to-face course, fully online course or remote teaching. Keep the following in mind:

Keep it simple

Use learning tools that you and your students are already familiar with.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.


Make sure your intended outcomes, learning activities, and assessments are aligned.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.

Clear Content

Ensure your course site is clear. Include a schedule to map out the term.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.

Instructor presence

Foster a sense of instructor presence and communicate with your students regularly.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.


If possible, favour the use of asynchronous strategies.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.

Remote teaching checklist

Consider the context of your course and identify opportunities and obstacles that you and your students are likely to encounter. Consider what actions can you take to mitigate the risks.

List the desired content for your course, then streamline it by identifying the knowledge and skills that are absolutely essential. From this condensed list, develop the revised intended learning outcomes.

Identify assessments and teaching strategies that align with the learning outcomes: how will you know how well your students have achieved the outcomes, and how will you teach so they are prepared to do the assessments?

Develop an assessment plan that gives students some elements of choice. Avoid having deliverables for marks every single week; instead, allow them to skip some submission dates or only count a subset of the marked work.

Provide flexible ways for students to demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes. Not all students need to complete the exact same assessments to demonstrate achievement. Ask then for their input into flexible assessments as well.

Include scaffolded assessments that let students build their skills and knowledge incrementally and provide multiple opportunities for formative feedback throughout the term.

Develop a clear and well-planned course site so your students can easily navigate the course. Consult with specialists at the TLSS for example templates used in Virtual campus (Brightspace).

Determine how you are going to share your content with your students – for example, via pre-recorded lectures or screencasts, narrated PowerPoint presentations, textbook or online readings, open content, and so on. When possible, choose asynchronous tools over synchronous tools.

Don’t livestream complete lectures; instead, break your lectures down into 5-10 minute, self-standing mini-lectures which can be recorded and made available to students. Livestreaming should be reserved for tutorial sessions and online office hours.

It is possible to maintain rich pedagogical strategies in your remote or online course such as active learning, aligned assessment, experiential learning.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.


Remote teaching: the ‘How to’ section

A well designed fully online course takes time to develop which may not be feasible given the current circumstances. If your main priority is to continue teaching remotely, this section will get you started.

Synchronous and asynchronous

First consider a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching strategies and which tools you will need for course delivery.

What is Synchronous Online Learning?

Synchronous learning means that the instructor and the students in the course engage with the course content and each other at the same time, but from different locations. The instructor interacts with students in real time by means of tools such as Adobe Connect or MS Teams to livestream audio, video, and presentations, or to hold live classes or meetings, Google Docs to simultaneously edit documents, and more.

Asian young woman with a computer sitting at a desk following a webinar

What is Asynchronous Online Learning?

Asynchronous learning means that the instructor and the students in the course all engage with the course content at different times (and from different locations). The instructor provides students with a sequence of units which the students move through as their schedules permit. Each unit might make use of assigned readings or uploaded media, online quizzes, discussion boards, and more. The instructor guides the students, provides them with feedback, and assesses them as needed.

Which One Should You Use?

Synchronous and asynchronous online learning each have their place, depending on what an instructor is trying to achieve, and the guidance they may have received from their institution, faculty, or department. For example, a synchronous (live) presentation allows students to ask questions while the presentation is in progress; an asynchronous (recorded) presentation allows students time to deliberate and reflect before asking their questions, perhaps in an online discussion group. Live, synchronous chat office hours allow the instructor and a student to have an interaction that resembles a real conversation; using an asynchronous discussion board to collect and respond to questions works better for students whose schedules wouldn’t permit them to engage in a live chat.

When you are making this decision keep in mind that your students could be in multiple time zones, be working full or part-time, have intermittent internet connections, may be caring for sick family members or have other commitments which prevent them from being online at a particular time.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Synchronous Learning


  • Students can ask questions and get answers in real-time, as the session is proceeding.
  • The instructor can gauge the students understanding in real-time and adjust the session accordingly.
  • Students feel an increased sense of the instructor actually “being there” – that is, more social presence and instructor presence.
  • Instructors can facilitate workshop-style classes and run breakout group activities.
  • Live chats or office hours allow for real-time interaction, like a conversation.


  • Some students might not be able to participate at the required time due to technical or scheduling problems. Some students might be in different time zones.
  • AODA (accessibility) requirements may be more difficult to meet - for example, providing captioning for a live presentation.

The above tips been adapted from Keep Learning Website.


Learn more

Learn more Asynchronous or Synchronous Discussions - EDUCAUSE Review: Asynchronous and Synchronous E-Learning

How will you modify your course syllabus? Will you redesign elements of your course (assignments, learning activities), and/or hold weekly sessions online?

How will you share feedback on assignments and grades with your students?

We recommend Virtual campus (Brightspace) as the platform to share your syllabus, course content and details of assignments with students.

The use of the Chat function is recommended for a faster response.


Powered by Brightspace from D2L

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Technicians respond to requests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Consider how you will Present, Record, and Share course content. Review options for remote teaching.

Once you decide what part of your course to keep as-is, and which elements to redesign, consider the options presented below for remote delivery.

Lectures - In-class, PowerPoint presentation

Synchronous - use a web conferencing tools such as:

  • Adobe Connect for polling, live chat, document & desktop sharing, and whiteboard capabilities
  • MS Team for meetings, team channels, chats, sharing documents


  • Content presentation via course website on Virtual campus (Brightspace) – upload PDF, Text, images, share material (e.g. text, announcements, website links, videos, PPTs, readings, etc.), offer discussion board activities, and other activities
  • Record voice-over PowerPoint slides/desktop screen using the built-in function in PowerPoint and post on Virtual campus (Brightspace) [Link to PDF Quick Guide - Converting MS PowerPoint presentations into videos for Virtual Campus]
  • Record what is presented on your computer desktop along with audio and a visual of yourself using Echo 360’s Universal Capture software – Personal.


Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect

  • Adobe Connect Request your Adobe Connect Course Space via this Request Form.
  • An account will be created for your students and an email with all connection information will be sent to them.
  • View an example from your colleague, Dr. John Rakco: Simple process to run your course on-line with Adobe Connect.



MS Teams

MS Teams

  • Set up MS Teams for your course.
  • Review the Microsoft Teams @ uOttawa (unofficial documentation) prepared by Dr. Florian Martin-Bariteau, Associate Professor, Common Law Section for an example of how it can be used with your class.


What could go wrong?

It happens to the best of us, things do not always go according to plan. What is your Plan B?

It’s now your turn to reflect on solution for situations where things could go wrong…. 

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Situation # 1

Your synchronous web conference session is well underway. All of a sudden, you are dropped from the web conference.

  • Number of students: 30
  • Style of instruction: Web-conferencing


Use the call-in number to participate if you are unable to connect online.

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Situation # 2

You prepare a series of video clips to replace in-class lectures and upload them onto Brightspace. Students must watch the videos and then complete a quiz. A student has trouble with the sound on the videos and cannot complete the quiz.

  • Number of students: 40
  • Style of instruction: Asynchronous


No problem, you carefully designed your course to be fully accessible and offer multiple options. Students may review the video transcripts or closed captioning.

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Situation # 3

You teach a large, first year chemistry course which now must be offered online. Traditionally, many students ask for help with problem solving questions and request support.

  • Number of students: 100
  • Style of instruction: Asynchronous


Provide a bank of practice questions with solutions.

Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS)

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Email: saea-tlss@uOttawa.ca 

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