faculty features

Elena Caselli: What I'm learning about remote teaching

March 01, 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 Dr. Elena Caselli, a term lecturer of Italian in the department of World Languages and Literatures, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, had to say.

What she’s learning about remote teaching

I’m learning about new technologies and how to improve my online communications skills, but there is more to learn. There are new pedagogical approaches to explore. We need to be resilient and ready to embrace imperfection more than ever.

Her mistake in remote teaching and the invaluable lesson she learned

Can't say it was a big mistake because it was a necessary part of the process. Let's say that remote teaching demands an entirely different approach and ad hoc designed courses, and I was not ready for this radical change at the beginning. I tried to adapt my programs to the new method with small adjustments at first. It was extremely draining for me, trying to deliver online the same course I had designed for in-person instruction, but I had to go through a gradual transition since I was not prepared for this switch. Who was? So I have no regrets, the slow adaptation was an inevitable mistake that helped me a lot in understanding what to change and how. Finally by the beginning of the fall session I was ready to deliver a very different kind of course, specifically designed for the remote environment.

What influences her own remote teaching style

I have developed my own teaching style, which is a mix of what it used to be pre-COVID-19 and the techniques I learned during hours and hours of workshops. Nothing really influenced me but I definitely need to thank the Centre for Educational Excellence instructors. They taught me a lot and supported me at the beginning of this journey. A colleague of mine was also very inspiring. She started using remote teaching well before COVID-19 and she is an expert. She was willing to generously share with me her knowledge, tricks and resources.

What she’ll keep doing after the pandemic is over

Distribute more rationally the workload between myself and my students. I’ll trust more the Asynchronous method and will keep using it for some portions of my courses. I also learned that "less is more" and frills often get in the way of effective learning. Definitely the flipped class method that I started using during the pandemic will remain the main characteristic of my courses.

What a few of Elena’s students are learning about remote learning

I very much miss the organic interactions with my professors that I used to take for granted, such as simply stopping by their offices for office hours. I also really miss interacting with my classmates directly, such as in tutorials or before class starts. On the flip side though, remote learning has made in-class engagement easier for me as I feel less shy about asking a question over zoom versus raising my hand in a lecture hall full of people.

Jarret McKee
Communication student
Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology

I've noticed that remote learning has had a different effect on everyone. For many of my peers, it has "brought out the hustle" in them, while others have found it to be very difficult and challenging. Personally, I've found remote learning to be more desirable for myself. With the understanding of the impact that remote learning has on their students, many of my professors have made themselves more available for help outside of lectures. Additionally, with many of my exams being open book, I've found myself working extremely hard to make reliable notes which I can use during my exams. Oh, and I've also learned NOT to attend class in your bed... you WILL fall asleep.

Karn Chohan
Student in the Biomedical, Physiology and Kinesiology department