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There are many things to consider when developing a remote teaching plan or an online learning course. Below are some essential things to think about as you begin this process.

Expandable List

In order to support quality teaching in an online/remote environment, you may need to think about your technology needs in a way that you haven’t needed to in the past.

In preparation for teaching remotely, we’d ask you to consider the advice and technology recommendations on our DIY Home Studio page.

The Virtual Classroom instructor mode is referenced in MOSAIC to identify any learning component that includes required synchronous elements delivered through a web conferencing tool (e.g., Zoom, Teams, etc.). Instructors lead a live teaching component (e.g. lecture, tutorial, or lab) using the conferencing tool with questions and discussions in a very similar way to the in person classroom experience.  

  • This synchronous experience does not preclude instructors from recording and sharing content to allow for asynchronous viewing 
  • Instructors can also deliver and record content without a student audience to be viewed by students later asynchronously 
  • Recorded content will be automatically closed captioned by our institutionally-supported webconferencing tools (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Echo360). These may need to be checked for accuracy. 
  • Students will need a strong and stable internet connection and a device that allows them to access and participate in the web conference. 
  • In this instance, a day and time are scheduled for the class 
  • Instructors should specify expectations for scheduled times in the course outline 
  • Virtual Classroom components can be combined with online asynchronous (Online Classroom) components. For example, synchronous tutorials may be scheduled for a specific time through a virtual classroom and core lecture components may be available through pre-recorded online modules 

The Online Classroom instructor mode is referenced in MOSAIC to identify any learning component that is designed for the online environment. Learning occurs in a completely asynchronous, self-paced manner with instructors guiding students through the learning. 

  • This asynchronous classroom experience allows instructors to pre-record their lecture and provide access to other asynchronous course content and build in interactive elements including quizzes and activities 
  • Pre-recorded content will be closed captioned by our institutionally-supported video streaming platforms (MacVideo, Echo360 and Microsoft Stream) 
  • Students will need a strong and stable internet connection and a device that allows them to access and view the learning content. 
  • A day and time will not be scheduled for any online classroom components, but instructors should indicate timelines and checkpoints for learning 
  • Instructors should specify expectations for accessing pre-recorded/asynchronous course content in the course outline 
  • Online Classroom components can be combined with online synchronous (Virtual Classroom) components. For example, core lectures may be available asynchronously through pre-recorded content and synchronous tutorials may be scheduled for a specific time through a virtual classroom component. 
  • Virtual and Online Classrooms methods can be combined
  • A tutorial may be scheduled for a specific time through a virtual classroom even as core lecture is available through pre-recorded online modules

There are two basic delivery formats in an online learning environment – synchronous and asynchronous.  Synchronous happens in real-time whereas asynchronous provides a self-paced approach to completion of content and activities. This handy infographic, adapted from Concordia University, can help you discover which is best for what. We do recommend using asynchronous approaches whenever possible as they are more accessible and flexible. 

  • While synchronous learning using live lectures and discussions can be highly beneficial, students who are displaced from their usual accommodations may face complications 
  • Students may encounter barriers such as difficulty accessing the internet, computer software, or technology and tools that can make synchronous participation and course work challenging 
  • Recording lectures is a good alternative to synchronous learning, but try to keep it short and focused where possible 
  • Captions should be added/enabled and corrected so videos are fully accessible to all learners 
  • Learn more about the unique communications considerations for asynchronous and synchronous modes of teaching in this article from Stefan Hrastinski 
  • As you plan for remote online teaching, select the mode of communication based on the strengths and merits of each approach. Consider asynchronous activities for complex content-related topics to provoke deeper information processing and reflection. Use synchronous activities to encourage community building with less complex issues or when immediate impressions, feedback, and planning are advantageous.  

Remote Teaching and Captions

There are differences, however, between and among McMaster e-learning and meeting platforms in terms of captioning features that can be accessed in order to: 

  • Caption in real-time  
  • Caption through auto-generation after a video has been recorded  

Remote Teaching and Captioning 

The following resource on Remote Teaching and Captioning has been developed by the Faculty of Science to guide learners and instructors through captioning capabilities for institutionally-supported teaching, learning and meeting platforms at McMaster. 

This guide is particularly helpful for proactive accessibility measures applied to online learning environments and virtual classrooms, and is not a replacement for Student Accessibility Services’ academic accommodations for video / audio captioning. 

If a learner in your teaching and learning environment requires captioning as part of an academic accommodation, both Student Accessibility Services and Library Accessibility Services will support their accommodation needs. 

For students who are registered with Student Accessibility Services in your course(s):

  • Review student accommodations on the SAS website through the instructor login
  • Implement extra time for online tests/exams where needed, if applicable
  • Consider requests for extensions of assignments
  • Keep in mind some students will have accommodations for 1 test/exam per day; 24-hour rest between tests/exams; or 1 full day of rest between tests/exams and will require spacing between your final evaluation and that of others
    • If you encounter difficulties coordinating these requests, please contact the SAS Program Coordinator:
  • If you have questions or concerns about how to provide academic accommodation for your students contact the SAS main-line at ext. 28642 or email
  • Universal Design for Learning is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn
  • Incorporating UDL principles into online courses can help create more inclusive learning environments and support learner variability
  • Use UDL guidelines to design and develop courses that have flexible goals, teaching methods, content, activities and assessments

Learn about the User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL), from the University of Waterloo (Centre for Extended Learning)  

The UXDL framework steps through six elements that contribute to creating well-designed online content: 

  1. Useful – how to organize your content to reduce distraction and how highquality design can help students to process and scaffold new information 
  2. Desirable –key principles for creating beautiful yet functional content that encourages reflection   
  3. Accessible – covers the underlying principles of universal design critical to creating an inclusive online learning experience  
  4. Credible  not only selecting quality content sources but also adopting evidence-informed pedagogical principles  
  5. Intuitive – how to create an easy to navigate course  
  • Rather than create something new, consider finding Open Educational Resources to use in your course
  • McMaster’s OER Committee has assembled a collection of quality repositories
  • OER content from eCampus Ontario, BC Campus OpenEd and copyright free classics are also available through Campus Store – see more about this in the “Support from Campus Store” section below.

LinkedIn Learning is available for all McMaster students, faculty, and staff as part of a collaboration between LinkedIn, eCampusOntario, and Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. LinkedIn Learning is an industry leader in online training, with a digital library of over 13,000 courses and videos covering a wide range of technical, business, software and creative topics. Its courses help users to refine professional skills, learn new software, and develop personal skills for success.

There are many opportunities to use LinkedIn Learning in your teaching. Note access to the examples linked below require you to be logged in to LinkedIn Learning. 

  • Faculty can assign videos to help support students online learning, or access videos to help their own transition to teaching in a virtual environment. For example, see this Teaching with Technology course.
  • Employees working remotely can access content about working from home, using Office 365, or learn new skills for professional development. For example, check out this Microsoft 365 Essential Training course.
  • Students can take courses to help further refine and distinguish their CVs, learn time management skills, or develop self-care practices to mediate stress. For example, check out this course for Time Management Fundamentals.

To access LinkedIn Learning, visit

For resources in getting started, FAQs, and curated content streams for faculty and staff, visit

You can email for any questions, feedback, or content recommendations and requests. If you have any trouble logging on or using LinkedIn Learning, email

Teaching with Technology” Course

  • Instructors who are just beginning to teach with technology may find it useful to take this introductory course.
  • This training course offered by LinkedIn Learning highlights how technology can enhance the teaching experience online and guides instructors on best practices and fundamental principles of course development.  Designed for those with a novice level of experience in online course delivery, it’s a great place to start your transition to teaching virtually. 
  • The focus of this course is to provide instructors with everything they will need to effectively teach online using technology.  Starting from identifying how to use technology to meet learning outcomesthe course provides a deep dive into applying UDL principles (Universal Design for Learning) in course development. 
  • Learn More

Digital Distribution Platform

  • Faculty and instructors can access a cutting-edge digital distribution platform that contains dynamic content from a large number of Canadian Publishers
  • OER content from eCampus Ontario, BC Campus OpenEd and copyright free classics are also loaded into this system and can be adopted by faculty for free distribution to students
  • Platform enables publishing and distribution of materials digitally while ensuring DRM, copyright management, royalty management and secure transaction processing is in place

Custom Courseware Transition
Beginning with Spring term 2021, the University Library will become the initial point of contact for developing custom courseware – a compilation of course resources available in both a digital and physical format, to better leverage existing licenses and e-reserves. The Library and Campus Store are committed to a seamless transition, with students having continued access to these materials. Both print and digital courseware will still be available through the Campus Store. For more information, please visit

Submit a courseware adoption to the Library by filling in the Library’s Custom Courseware Adoption Form.  The Library has created FAQ’s to assist you. 

Free eBook Access

  • Students just need to log in with their McMaster email address to access the free materials
  • Keep in mind that these are flat file e-text books that do not have the interactive learning tools that many of the faculty members at McMaster adopt
  • This work has been done in partnership with a company called Vital Source in the US

While the physical library facilities remain closed, instructors continue to have access to the Library’s rich course content, robust technological tools and expert assistance – albeit delivered in sometimes new ways. The Library Remote Support Hub has been designed to help instructors, students and staff with all their resources, services and collections needs.   

Pre-Course Survey

  • Asking your students a few questions prior to the start of the course can help you get a sense of where the are joining from, the technology they are familiar with/using as well as their goals for the course. Here is an example of some of the questions you might consider asking during this time. Note that this survey is also available to integrate into your Avenue to Learn Course via the Learning Object Repository 

MidTerm Student Feedback

  • Collecting feedback from your students in the middle of the term allows you to understand how students are responding to your pedagogical approaches, reflect on their suggestions while your experience is fresh, and subsequently implement changes to your course or teaching that can enhance student learning. 

 End of term Student Feedback

  • Some traditional forms of assessment are not possible under the current circumstances
  • There are lots of possibilities for alternatives to final exams, student presentations, small group assignments, essays/reports, reflective journals, take home exams and more
  • Consider the format that suits your course best and explore the options on our Alternative Assessments page
  • Find more information about administering tests and exams through Avenue to Learn in our guide.

Students may not have continual robust connection to the Internet. We encourage instructors to take the steps necessary to ensure that their materials are available for students to download and view offline as needed.

By default, many of our institutionally-supported tools are configured so that students cannot easily download content to their devices and must instead stream directly from the Internet. We have pulled together some short tutorials and resources to open up the possibility for students to download content should they not have reliable access to the Internet: