Preparing your Teaching Team for Teaching Remotely

If you teach a large course, reach out to your GSIs as soon as possible to talk over their responsibilities for the coming term!
by LSA Learning & Teaching Technology Consultants

The most common format for large lecture courses in LSA is the Lecture/Discussion or Lecture/Lab. This model divides instruction between a senior instructor who works with all students (e.g., in a large lecture) and graduate student instructors (GSIs) who work with subsets of students in smaller recitation, discussion, or lab settings. You can read some excellent general recommendations for teaching with this model at CRLT’s Occasional Paper #37: Teaching in Teams: A Planning Guide For Successful Collaborations.

To make the model work online, the senior instructor needs to plan a well-organized structure for the Canvas course, and talk with the GSIs early on about exactly what their responsibilities are. Ensure everyone knows who will have synchronous meetings in person and who will have them online via a videoconference. Encourage GSIs to attend the workshops available on Canvas and videoconference tools that they will use. If GSIs will be responsible for grading asynchronous activities such as Canvas Discussions or tests, make sure they know which activities those are and have guidelines for grading. If they will need to manage chat, either in Canvas or in a videoconference, talk with them about how you’d like this to be done: should they collect questions to pass to you at specific times, or try to answer questions themselves, for example? 

If you’re not sure how you want to organize your Canvas course, you may wish to make use of one of the Canvas templates the Learning and Teaching Technology Consultants have created for LSA; this will provide a built-out Canvas course with blank items (pages, discussions, links, etc.) for you to fill in and expand on. For instructions on how to import a template that will help scaffold course content in a lecture course, see the Canvas Template for a Lecture Based Course.

In the remote classroom, the senior instructor is responsible for the lecture recordings and for interacting with students during synchronous meeting time to clarify material, answer questions, or oversee whole-class activities. GSI’s may offer remote virtual office hours, oversee in person or online synchronous discussions or labs, oversee section-level or small group course activities that help build deeper understanding and a sense of student community, and grade students in their section(s). All of these activities work best with preparation and clear communication between instructor and GSIs.

Some Concrete Steps and Tips

The senior instructor should meet in Zoom or Bluejeans to conference with GSIs or instructional teams once a week to coordinate the various technologies and techniques that are being used in the class, as well as discussing any feedback or issues students may be reporting.  Synchronous and asynchronous activities should be carefully planned and communicated in advance to students and GSIs both.

To keep grading consistent even with multiple graders, assessment Rubrics can be set up for graded or ungraded assignments and discussions.

GSIs can send Announcements to their individual sections/groups to keep their students informed of group activities.

If you would like help planning how you and your instructional team can best support each other, please feel free to reach out to the If you’d like to arrange a workshop on Zoom or Bluejeans, specifically for your instructional team, you can request that from the LSA Videoconferencing Group. Or you might want to have your team take one of the Zoom training opportunities that ITS offers.

Further Reading

Teaching in Teams: A Planning Guide for Successful Collaborations, Accessed: July 1, 2020 7:28pm.


Release Date: 07/02/2020
Category: Learning & Teaching Consulting; Teaching Tips
Tags: Technology Services