September 28, 2020

Welcome to your new Zoom classroom: A marketing professor shares his remote instruction tips

Leyland Pitt (Beedie School of Business) distilled the lessons he learned in moving to remote instruction into a document titled Top 10 Tips for Making the Switch to Remote Learning.

Leyland Pitt is a marketing professor, the Dennis F. Culver EMBA Alumni Chair of Business in SFU’s Beedie School of Business, and an award-winning teacher. Like every other SFU instructor, he was forced to scramble when COVID-19 compelled the university to move to remote teaching in March 2020.

Pitt recognized that besides the challenges, technological and otherwise, of moving his graduate-level marketing course online, he would need to address the anxiety, stress and uncertainty that his students were facing.

He chose to focus on three key areas—digital classroom strategies, social connection and sense of community, and accessibility—to provide his students with a rich and positive online learning experience.

The essential elements of his approach are outlined in an article by Janet Homeniuk of SFU’s Institute for the Study of Teaching and Learning in the Disciplines (ISTLD). The full article is available on the ISTLD website. Pitt has also summarized his approach in a PDF document titled Top 10 Tips for Making the Switch to Remote Learning. Among his suggestions:

  • Aim to do about 80% of what you would have done in a “real” class—so what if you don’t get everything done?
  • Have good breaks, and finish at least 20 minutes early.
  • Students LOVE having a guest in a class, and it’s much, much easier online. No travel, no time barriers, guests can be anywhere.
  • Answer student emails as soon as you can—it shows you’re there and that you care.

What students said about the course

Students clearly recognized the effort Pitt made to support them during a difficult time and were quick to express their appreciation:
  • “I think everyone was doing the best they could, and I think SFU and Leyland were awesome in being able to continue the program and courses during COVID.”
  • “Wonderful class! Leyland adapted the curriculum and teaching to an online environment incredibly well and kept our class engaged throughout each class, which was no small feat.”
  • “Leyland was excellent at removing stress during a stressful time for many of the class (loss of jobs, etc.). I thank him for providing a caring and compassionate space and doing the best he could.”

Related links


Remote Instruction, Technology and Media