Guiding Principles for Teaching Remotely

Decisions to move to remote teaching have been made due to public health and safety. This is a challenging and unprecedented situation. We recognize that instructors are quickly adapting their planned teaching activities under less than ideal circumstances. It is not going to be perfect, and we are all doing the best we can.

We suggest following these guidelines when making decisions about teaching remotely:

Health and Safety

Health and safety of students, staff and the community are our top priorities. Plan instruction and assessment options that keep our community as safe as possible.

Student Experience

Revised instructional and assessment strategies are to be done in a way that is fair and reasonable for students and requires equivalent academic effort to what was originally planned in your courses. If you are planning on providing lectures and lessons in real-time through our technology platforms, keep in mind some of your students may now be in different time zones and may not be able to attend synchronous class sessions. Recording live sessions in Zoom is one way to ensure access.

Technologically Accessible

Alternative assessments and instruction should be developed keeping in mind the technology students can access. Students may have different levels of access and stability with technology. Develop assessment strategies that have the lowest risk for technology disruptions. Refrain from relying on timed online exams given how reliant they are on students having access to reliable technology for a specific time frame. If relying on a timed online exam, alternative options for students who might not have access to stable technology (internet or computers) are required. 

Online learning

When considering how best to teach remotely, remember that the immediate goal is to keep teaching and to continue to support student learning.

The expectation is not to create a perfectly designed online course. We recommend that you prioritize using tools you are familiar with, consider the learning goals for each session, and think about what can reasonably be accomplished. Think carefully about what can and cannot be incorporated into the remainder of the semester.


Teaching activities will vary across courses. Some academic staff may be most comfortable assigning a chapter reading, engaging the class in a discussion on d2L, or posting lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations with annotated notes. Those who are more experienced may wish to teach and record a live lecture using Zoom or capture and post a presentation using Yuja.


We invite you to visit the strategies described throughout this website. It will be updated regularly to respond to the ongoing needs of the academic community. There will be a number of support sessions offered over the coming weeks to help you. In addition, we encourage you to reach out to colleagues who are more familiar with teaching in online formats. Many have expressed their willingness to help.

Most importantly, take care of yourself and others during this time. 

Keep in mind that both you and students will feel anxious and uncertain at times as courses transition to remote and online formats. Under the current circumstances, this is expected. Regular communication with students will help prevent confusion and frustration. Explain why you are prioritizing certain areas of the course, and provide structure related to schedules, course expectations and due dates wherever possible. Acknowledge that this is a difficult situation that we are all adapting to.

Related content

Teaching Continuity Essentials


Alternative Online Assessments