General Introduction to Remote Learning and Recommended Practices

General introduction to remote learning

Remote learning, also referred to as distance learning, gives students who aren’t in a physical location to receive in-person instruction access to online training materials. 

The sudden shift to remote learning can be challenging for students. And just like their instructors, they are trying to figure out how to make it work. To elicit learning in a new environment, it helps to:

  1. Keep learners engaged by requiring active, civil participation 
  2. Make it social
  3. Think about accessibility

Everyone is doing their hardest to make decisions that are in the best interest of students and their continued learning. There are still going to be mistakes, miscommunications, and things that might not work correctly when implementing the change to a remote environment.

With grace, fortitude and basic ground rules, remote learning will become more seamless. Instructors can take the lead by establishing rules of engagement or etiquette for remote learning.

Rules of engagement/etiquette

An instructor who establishes rules of engagement/ etiquette for remote learning creates space for engagement. When students engage in discussion with each other, the possibilities for collaboration grow significantly. As the instructor, you can establish basic etiquette then ask your students to review and agree on these new rules of engagement. 

Here are some examples:

  • Do not capitalize all letters while posting a thought or emailing someone.  This is considered shouting, and it implies that you are angry. Capitalize words only to highlight an important point or to distinguish a title or heading.
  • Never use profanity or make hurtful comments toward someone or when referring to someone’s work.  
  • Be careful when using humor or sarcasm; you never know how someone else will interpret it.
  • Be respectful of diverse opinions.
  • Don’t post inappropriate pictures, links or comments.  Use good judgment.
  • Wear solid colors that contrast your skin color in videos and live discussions.
  • Sign slowly and clearly – there may be glitches in streaming.

Considering your environment

Your surroundings say a lot about you.

  • Clean up and have a simple background (a plain wall, a potted plant, or a bookshelf works perfectly). Zoom also provides virtual backgrounds to help you disguise even the most recklessly cluttered environments.
  • Lights, camera, action! Note, the first item here is LIGHTS. Position yourself so that most of the light is coming from in front of you (behind your monitor), instead of behind you. If you have a window behind you, shut the blinds. Otherwise, you will be backlit.

Optimizing the visual field for DHHDB* students

(*Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind)

When you video record yourself teaching or go live

  • Wear clothes that subtly contrast your skin color.
  • Frame your “signing window” so that viewers can see your signs clearly and make sure you leave enough space at the bottom of the screen for subtitles to be added. 
  • Adjust the lighting so that you are clearly seen from your lowest rib to about an inch above your head. 
  • Avoid positioning windows, movement, and glassy images (pictures frames) in your background. (Consider your glasses – do they create a glare on video? Adjust or remove them.)
  • Record your presentations for students who cannot watch live. There are upsides to having a recording: 1) They can be recycled later; 2) They create a feedback loop from which you can learn and improve.
  • Sign slower and clearer than usual, as if you were presenting to a large audience.
  • Keep single topics under 6 minutes each.

Seeking Medical Care

Seeking medical care: Students
Students who have paid the health center fee and who feel ill may visit the Student Health Service. DO NOT WALK IN; it is imperative that you call the Student Health Service at 202-651-5090 or email for further direction. This is for your own protection, the protection of other patients, and the protection of SHS staff. 

Seeking medical care: Staff and faculty
Staff and faculty who feel ill should see their health care provider. It is important to contact your health care provider before going in, for your own protection, the protection of other patients, and the protection of your health care providers.