Teaching Continuity at Caltech  /  Advice & Guidance  /  Remote Course Models

Main Models for Remote Lecture, Recitation, and Discussion-based Courses

Two common models for remote courses consisting mainly of lectures, recitations, and discussions are outlined below to support your planning efforts.

Model 1: Mainly pre-record lecture material; offer flexible synchronous options (flipped model)

  • Lectures: Instructors pre-record using Zoom, Canvas Studio, or a tool of their choice. Shorter segments of video are best. Videos are placed in Canvas. Students can demonstration completion of their asynchronous engagement with pre-recorded materials via online quiz, discussion post, or other submission.
  • Flexible synchronous options: Zoom can be used for live discussion, guided problem-solving, or other active sessions with instructors. To avoid scheduling conflicts, it is recommended to have synchronous class meetings during the published course meeting time(s).
  • Recitations and Office Hours: These may also be held using Zoom. For Office Hours, some Caltech courses have found it helpful to have options for students to join via Zoom and/or to submit questions and receive responses via chat or discussion forum.

Model 2: Mainly synchronous classes; offer recordings and alternative interaction as back-up

  • Lectures, discussions, and/or recitations are held synchronously, typically via Zoom. Zoom polls, Zoom chat, and facilitated discussion via voice/video are used to engage students during class time. To avoid scheduling conflicts, it is recommended to have synchronous class meetings during the published course meeting times.
  • Synchronous sessions are recorded to provide back-up for students who are prevented from joining (e.g., connection issue, illness). If there are participation requirements for class, alternatives can be provided (e.g., students submit a short summary of their ideas about the in-class discussion, responses to poll questions, etc.).

Assignments and online discussion for either model:

  • Assignment distribution: assignments are typically posted in Canvas.
  • Assignment submission: students typically hand in work and receive feedback via Canvas or Gradescope, which are both FERPA-compliant and allow for private communication with students.
  • Online discussion: A Canvas discussion forum can be used to support assigned, threaded student discussions, and/or to document answers to student questions, between other interactions. Piazza is also available for this purpose.

Combining models:

  • It is possible to combine Models 1 and 2: e.g., pre-record some material, and also hold some synchronous class sessions. If taking this approach, setting up a consistent weekly schedule will help students gain clarity about the expectations. Articulating your goals and why you are choosing to pre-record some material and work with students synchronously on other material will also help students appreciate and make the most of your approach.