The goal of this website is to offer strategies and suggestions for transitioning your class to a remote teaching format for the remainder of the semester. The focus is on supporting our students in a time of incredible stress and helping them feel a sense of connection and continuity to RISD, to this community, and to each other.
If you are looking for technical help or want to learn more about software and how to use it, the IT website has instructions, tutorials, links to logins, and people standing by to answer questions.
We all understand this is a compromised situation, that we are doing the best we can, and that the next few months will require all of this community’s ingenuity and resourcefulness. With this in mind remember that you are not developing an online course, this may not be the time to teach yourself complicated software that you have never used, for the most part we want to use simple tools, collate or curate resources that already exist, and keep the conversations with our students moving forward. Focusing on your students and leveraging your own creativity and skills will lead to the meaningful experiences we all strive to create.
Consider intangibles. You communicate your commitment and care to your students through your presence in the classroom. The affective (emotional) content of your teaching also matters when working remotely. Express your commitments—you may have to say (write) things that you would otherwise demonstrate (e.g., care for progress, encouragement). Explain what you’re doing and how you’re going to respond—for example, if your evaluations of a question are going to be brief, set expectations in advance, to avoid misinterpretation. You are also their primary connection to RISD. Remember to check in, ask how they are and if they need support.
Think about continuity, if there is a specific classroom experience that you do all the time (e.g., a 3-minute sketch), keep it going online. The sense of connection to what the semester was like before will be helpful to students whose life has just been upended.
Be the steering wheel, not the engine. The most valuable thing you provide your students is your unique interaction. The energy you would spend recording a demonstration that already exists is better spent mentoring your students. You don’t need to create entirely unique content. Instead orchestrate videos, lectures, and other high quality content online in your lesson plans. Writing an introduction or critique of a video or presentation can be instructive in and of itself.
Class time will need to be distributed between synchronous and asynchronous. When is it important to be “live” and when is it better to develop an online dialogue that can be picked up at will (with deadlines of course)?
Participating in online discussions and monitoring student discussions take time, as does responding to student work in writing or other forms. You will have to re-imagine teaching core concepts using modest materials and technologies that are easily at hand. How you choose to run class and communicate may also depend on the technologies you feel comfortable with. While it’s reasonable to try some new tools for discussions, it’s not time to reinvent the wheel. Use the tools you know well. A course could be managed primarily through email.
Be conscious of the fact that your students will have multiple, sometimes overlapping, responsibilities, if you have synchronous conversation times, you may want to consider having multiple availabilities or create a recording of the session so as not to disadvantage those who can’t be there.
Our student body comes from all over the world. While it’s tempting to think you could simply broadcast your class live, it’s important to understand where your students are.
It is considered best practice to break online lectures into sections or chunks, usually no more than 20 minutes each. Consider requiring students to answer a few questions about what you just said before they move on to the next section to make sure they understood the content. This is also an opportunity for them to ask questions which can be addressed later, keying back to the section of the lecture being referenced. The ability to pause and replay a lecture is also a huge benefit to non-native speakers and students with learning differences.
Remote critiques may require explicit opportunities to calibrate process and expectations. Providing opportunities for exchange and interaction before the critique starts can ameliorate this, and even make critiques more equitable and productive. Developing a shared set of expectations can help direct the discussion around student work
Fleet library has a website with resources, support, and content for teaching.
The Center for Arts & Language (A&L) staff can advise on integrating writing (and speaking) of all kinds into remote-teaching plans. Contact Jen Liese (firstname.lastname@example.org). A&L’s Maya Krinsky (email@example.com) is available to share strategies for supporting multilingual learning, including those specific to online learning environments. A&L’s studio-based writing prompts are specific to grad thesis, but easily transferable to any studio/art/design context.