faculty features

Diane Finegood: What I'm learning about remote teaching

February 22, 2021

In this series we share the reflections of faculty members who are discovering new teaching insights from and about remote teaching. Here’s what Diane Finegood, a fellow with the Centre for Dialogue and professor in the faculty of Science had to say.

On what she’s learning about remote teaching?

It has benefits over the classroom if you get your mind turned to how to take advantage of the added tools and opportunities. We can’t do what we did in the classroom online. Rather I’ve been developing recorded lectures that deliver content. They include “pause video exercises” where I suggest students stop to think about a question posed and then proceed. This approach to asynchronous delivery of content leaves more synchronous class time for dialogue and sensemaking about the content. It also provides more opportunity for students to get to know each other through the use of smaller breakout rooms for discussion. The other advantage is a lecture module can be as long or as short as it needs to be to communicate the content, rather than have to fit into a 50 minute lecture format.

On what has influenced her the most when it comes to her own remote teaching style

I’ve been studying facilitation approaches, doing workshops, e.g., OK Zoomer by Doug Shaw and learning to use technology to improve the quality of video content produced. I now have a green screen and software that allows me to place myself on the slide for example.

On what students are teaching her about remote teaching

I was teaching in the spring 2020. The Semester in Dialogue is a full time cohort based program. I learned how hard it was early in the pandemic for students in this special class to lose their daily face-to-face contact with each other and how personal circumstances affected their ability to participate in full video on Zoom. So this pushed us towards developing more content delivery that is asynchronous. I have also learned that expectations are different if you start in a classroom and then move to Zoom as opposed to knowing you are entering a remote course.

On what she is learning that she’ll keep doing after the pandemic

Asynchronous delivery of content, more focus in class on dialogue and sensemaking.

On one of the biggest misconceptions about remote teaching

The perception that if people always have their videos on you can “see” if they are paying attention, is a false notion. It really depends on people’s circumstances and what is actually happening. When students need to be in listening mode, video off is fine and some can listen better that way, I know I can. It’s also false to assume students are “paying attention” when their video is on since they can look like that while doing something else.

On the lessons learned in spring 2020

We needed to pivot fast with respect to our expectations of students in completing their assignments. It was a stressful time and some things could not be done in the way they were envisioned.

On what students are teaching her about remote teaching

Relationships can be built over Zoom if we take care in how we engage with people.

Diane Finegood is currently seconded to the Semester in Dialogue. She has helped develop the COVID-19 Community Resilience Network, an online network to mobilize the capacity and creativity of the SFU community to collaborate with communities beyond the academy, to help people connect, share resources and act to enhance our collective impact.