Remote Teaching How-To Guide

Our team and many of our colleagues on campus worked in the early days of the 2020 novel corona virus related move to remote teaching to create this guide, which originally appeared on the MSU Keep Teaching website. Below is a guide to six key consideration areas when encountering a remote teaching situation.

Step 1: Introduction

Teaching a fully online course requires careful planning and many hours of preparation whereas remote teaching is more reactionary in nature. Remote teaching might not afford you the ability to be overly strategic. It instead focuses on keeping continuity for what you have already started in a face-to-face environment.


Step 2: Communication

As we transition to remote instruction, communicate with your students right away and often. Even if you don’t have a plan in place for your course, communicate with your students as soon as it’s clear that your course will need remote delivery. Be clear with them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for near term engagement with the course. Communication is best done with courses by using the Instructor Systems tool on the Registrar’s website, or by using the Email function of D2L.

Step 3: Assessment

Offering assessments in a remote setting will require some planning. For remote delivery, the primary concern should be assessing how well students have achieved the key learning objectives and determining what objectives are still unmet. It may be necessary to modify the nature of the assessment to allow for the more limited affordances of the remote environment.

Step 4: Assignments and Activities

In-class activities and assignments can be facilitated by a variety of the tools provided at MSU. Instructions for assignments and activities can be provided most easily in text format (email, D2L file, Word document, etc.). Consider using the D2L Assignment Tool as it will collect and store individual submissions and allow students to see that they submitted the assignment.


Step 5: Lecture

Lectures can be created and offered using a combination of Office 365 (PowerPoint), ZoomMediaSpace, and D2L. This will allow you to give and record your presentation (adding narrations to PowerPoint and local recording in Zoom) and deliver it to students (uploading video to MediaSpace and adding video content to D2L). We recommend you schedule online sessions during a time your course already occupies. Videos may be recorded via Zoom and then streamed to students via MSU MediaSpace and D2L.

Step 6: Participation and Engagement

Note that student participation and engagement may be different in a remote teaching instance than in a face-to-face classroom. For example, in a Zoom meeting some students may not speak due to the mode of communication and/or the technology they are using to connect. We encourage you to be aware of differences in participation and engagement and to be flexible in opportunities for ways that students can participate in the course. Consider using the D2L discussion forums as a means to facilitate asynchronous engagement.

Library Resources

Many course readings are already provided at MSU as digital content or in books that students have purchased. If you have any materials that are only available as physical hard copies and which students do not already own, please contact the library in order to develop a digital strategy.

There is a central page for services for online and off campus students and faculty. Services include mailing library books directly to you or your students, troubleshooting Libraries e-resources and databases, and help creating stable links to those resources.   

Subject specialist librarians are happy to help find library resources for your classes and to get those materials linked in D2L for your students. One of the easiest ways to provide this assistance is for you to make your subject specialist librarian an editor in your course. To find your subject librarian, please see our list at Librarians are also happy to discuss any other ways that they can support your teaching and learning needs.

Our Course Materials program can help if you have materials that need to be transitioned from print to digital.  

Interlibrary loan access will continue to be provided. We will provide desktop delivery and mail materials to you if needed. 

We have reference services available for students and faculty via chat, 24/7:

The Main Library will remain open, though we are moving to summer semester hours, which are reduced. Some internal branches will be closed, including Maps, Art, Music, and the Digital and Multimedia Center. The Business Library, Gull Lake Library and MSU Archives will be closed as of 5 p.m. on Friday, March 13. They will reopen on April 20. Materials located in those spaces may be paged for use, but you should contact Patron Services in advance of your visit if you need materials from those spaces. 


This document co-authored by MSU Instructional Designers including:

  • Sue Halick
  • Summer Issawi
  • Leslie Johnson
  • Jessica Knott
  • Rashad Muhammad
  • Nick Noel
  • Scott Schopieray
  • Kate Sonka
  • Stephen Thomas
  • Daniel Trego
  • Jeremy Van Hof