How to Teach English Classes Remotely

How to Teach English Classes Remotely 

(prepared for the UC Davis English Department) 


  • The University of California Davis is shifting to “remote instruction” in spring. In our department, this is new for just about everyone, teachers and students alike, and we all should have patience with ourselves and give everyone credit for doing their best under truly difficult circumstances.


  • Below you’ll find some quick tips and tricks culled from various sources, but the most important advice we can give is to use what you already know and build on that. We will all learn and adapt throughout the quarter.


  • Please remember that clear communication with students before the start of class and throughout remains vital to equitable instruction at a distance just as it is in person. Below you’ll find a template for a first email to your classes to set expectations. 


  • As you plan, please think carefully about what will be synchronous and what will be asynchronous—when and how you will be “present” along with your students and when they will be using materials on their own.


  • Ask questions! There’s a box to do so at the bottom of this page. 


How To:


Record or livecast lectures (as a whole or in parts):

--With Powerpoint (record your voice over slides and post the file)

--With Zoom (share your screen or a specific program from it and students can see both what you share and you). NOTE: Zoom is increasingly integrated with Canvas. Click the link at lower left in your course navigation to set up in advance. 


Hold office hours, run a discussion section, or facilitate a meeting:

--With Zoom (tips here for making office hours work online) 


Shape effective online discussion questions:

--Answers here to the question: How can online discussions be used as a springboard for high-level conversations among students in your class? 


Set Expectations: 

--Here’s one model for an initial email to students in your classes, ready to customize for your course if you’re looking for a place to start: “Our class will meet through the Zoom online conference system. We will adopt the same rules and norms as in a physical classroom (take notes; participate by asking and answering questions; wear classroom-ready clothing). For everyone’s benefit, join the course in a quiet place. Turn on your video. Mute your microphone unless you are speaking. Close browser tabs not required for participating in class. This form of learning will be somewhat new to all of us, and success will depend on the same commitment we all bring to the physical classroom.” 


Beyond the Basics:


--Suggestions about more things you might want to do with Zoom can be found here.  


--A good, fast overview of things to consider can be found here.


--A little more detail on “creating presence” online here.  


--On engaging students via Canvas, see this



Keep Teaching Site at UC Davis: