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Engage Students with the Content

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Teaching remotely is more than just replicating your face-to-face classroom activities in the online environment.  It involves deliberate adaptation and modification of how you deliver in-class activities and utilize informal feedback. Here are some things you can try:

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1. Adapt in-class activities using appropriate mediums

When considering how to engage students with content in an online setting, it may be helpful to think about activities that will allow students to practice and develop their skills as well as ones that will develop critical thinking by making connections between theories and content.


Best practices

  • Choose tools you are comfortable with
  • Test the tools out yourself first, and be prepared to walk your students through their use
  • Mitigate the fact that not all students have equal access to technology by ensuring your course and activities are accessible.

2. Provide informal feedback to aid learning

In the face-to-face environment we may take for granted the amount of informal feedback we provide to students in class.  Examples include responding to points made by students in discussions, answering questions and clarifying what students say, taking up solutions to problems posed in class, offering options for responses to scenarios or case studies, etc. Consider how you will do this in a remote environment.


  • For feedback on real-time activities facilitated in Zoom or Microsoft Teams
  • eClass Discussion Forums eClass quizzes can offer immediate feedback when they are self-grading.
  • eClass journals allow students to write entries for the instructor to comment on.
  • eClass assignments, Turnitin, and Crowdmark allow students to submit files that members of the teaching team can provide feedback on.

Best practices

  • Quality, timely feedback helps establish your presence in the course
  • You can try different modes of feedback delivery, including written, audio/video, and automated (e.g. self-grading quizzes)
  • Feedback can also be delivered at the individual or group level, for example leaving feedback on weekly discussion posts

3. Finding Alternatives for STEAM - Labs & Experiential Activities

With the shift to online teaching and learning, many traditional face-to-face activities such as labs and experiential education opportunities need to be reconsidered.  This is especially true for those whose discipline is in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).


Smartphone Accommodation Resource Toolbox (SmART): An online platform developed at York to support teaching and learning through the use of smartphone video production and interactive feedback tools

Publicly Available Datasets: Can be used for students to interpret experimental data.  For example, Nature Research Journal, or Statistics Canada

Best practices

  • Think about the intention of your labs.  Are they meant for interpreting experimental data, project-based research, or lab techniques and application to specific experimental situations?  This may help you narrow your choices for selecting an appropriate learning activity.
  • Be aware of issues surrounding student access to technology, as not all students will have equal access to the internet, computers, smart phones, physical space, etc.
  • Under certain conditions of your own research protocols, you may be able to use human participant data that you collected for your own research purposes as an opportunity for your students to anaylze and interpret as part of an academic assignment.  This is entirely dependent on the conditions of your approved ethics protocol, including but not limited to the clear articulation in your consent form that the data may be used in a variety of ways and is already in anonymized form.  To avoid any ethical breaches, you are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Office of Research Ethics ( for clarification regarding your specific protocol.

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