Strategies for supporting temporarily remote students

This resource is designed to provide options if you find yourself with a mix of in-person and remote students at any point in the term. Expectations for supporting remote students may vary by faculty, so check with your academic leadership for specifics. 

Plan   |  Design   |  Teach   |  Get support



Find out about your students

Your faculty may be collecting information about which students will be remote, but it may also be helpful to reach out to students directly. Find out if any of your students will need to attend class remotely and for how long. It may be helpful to ask if they can attend synchronously or if their location will make this a challenge.

Understand your options

There are lots of ways you can reach temporarily remote students: email, recorded lectures, live lectures, Zoom office hours, and more. Think about what options worked best for you and your students last year. Also, familiarize yourself with your classroom, the equipment available, and what tools will be available to you (e.g. Zoom, Panopto). You can see classroom equipment on the UBC learning spaces website.


Send out a pre-course survey to better understand the extent that students are able to attend in-person classes. Qualtrics is a widely-used survey tool at UBC and the CTLT can help you with this. Access our Qualtrics drop-in support (see CTLT events for dates and times). 

Use the Timezone tool in Canvas to determine remote students’ time zones. This information is particularly useful when planning for online synchronous sessions and virtual office hours. Please note that you can only get this information once students are enrolled in your Canvas course shell.

Reuse online teaching material

During the previous year, many faculty developed online resources that will continue to benefit students in the years to come. Review what you developed and consider whether it might be a useful resource for your temporarily remote students. Re-using online resources such as classroom recordings and online activities can help remote students access and review course material at their own pace and keep on track while waiting to return to the classroom.  

Consider alternative online readings

Remote students may face challenges procuring textbooks at the start of the term. Having a selection of online readings available can be a helpful alternative until students are able to purchase a textbook on campus. Remember: the Library’s Online Course Reserve (LOCR) service is an easy way for you to create a list for your course readings.


Please note: If you are planning to share instructional videos you developed in a previous term, you may need to edit these videos. If you share recordings outside the original course or in a different term of the same course, you do need to either obtain consent from students included and identifiable in the video or edit out the students population. You can edit videos using the Camtasia video editing software which is available to all faculty, staff and students at UBC. Learn more about downloading and editing video in Camtasia in the Learning Technology Hub Camtasia Toolkit. You may also want to contact your faculty instructional unit and see how they can support you in this process.

Prepare your students

Communicate with students as early as possible via email or Canvas announcements to let them know about the course format, what can be expected from you, and your expectations for them. You may also want to add a specific section in your syllabus that provides information for students regarding what options are available should they need to participate remotely for a temporary period of time. If you will be live streaming class meetings, you may want to include guidelines for remote students on how to engage during a live session. 


Concerned recording class meetings will result in a drop in attendance? Panopto reviewed 34 peer-reviewed studies looking at this relationship. They found only four out of the 34 studies reported a reduction in attendance, and that for those four studies the reduction was minimal.

Practice new technologies

Take time to familiarize yourself with technology that is new to you or that you might be using in a new way. For example, practice how you will manage group activities, especially if they will involve a mix of on-campus and online students. Practice will give you a chance to better time your teaching and make adjustments where needed.


If you run into technical issues, contact UBC AV to get support with classroom equipment and the mobile recording kits. The Learning Technology Hub and many faculty instructional support units also have drop-in support sessions related to learning technologies. 


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Revisit your course design

It’s likely your course has changed over the last 18 months of remote learning&mdashand it may change again with the return to on-campus teaching. Think about how you will integrate the best parts of both the pre-COVID and online versions of your course. Rather than looking at the entire course, which can be overwhelming, focus on the first few weeks of term, when students are most likely to be remote.


Explore key considerations for accessibility and inclusivity in online course materials on the Learning Technology Hub website.

Consider pre-recording your lectures

You may want to reuse pre-recorded lectures from last year or create new instructional videos for students unable to attend your class. The Keep Teaching website includes information about the tools available to do this and how to use them. 

Use a Canvas template for consistency and organization

Consider using a template as a foundation for organizing your Canvas course. Students reported that courses based on templates were especially helpful during emergency remote teaching, as they provided a cohesive and consistent way to navigate the website. 

Promote flexible learning

You can add more flexibility to your course by developing more content or adding materials online, to complement (flipped classroom) or supplement (blended learning) what will be done in the classroom. If you are teaching to both face-to-face and remote students, it is important to design your course in a way so that both groups have as equitable of a learning experience as possible. 


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Record or stream your class meetings

Consider recording or streaming your classes (or parts of your classes) for students who are unable to attend. Classroom recordings are useful for all students to review course material. UBC Vancouver has approximately 160 general teaching classrooms with recording and/or streaming capabilities. In addition, drop-in recording kits and mobile Zoom carts are available for classrooms without built-in recording and/or streaming capabilities. If you are teaching in a room without built-in recording equipment, or are not able to check out a mobile recording kit from UBC AV, you can still use your own laptop and microphone to record your in-person class using Zoom, to capture slides, audio, and possibly video.

To understand your responsibilities when recording classroom activities, please review the UBC Principles for Classroom Recordings (PDF).


Streaming your class can be useful to connect and interact with your remote and in-person students in real time. Keep in mind that streaming typically requires a more complex classroom audio-visual set-up than recordings. In addition, when streaming a class, you will need to determine how to monitor and interact with remote students. 

Promote an equitable learning space

There are different teaching techniques that not only allow you to support remote students, but also help you to create a more equitable learning experience for them. For example, if you expect students to collaboratively develop a document or presentation, you could use a learning tool such as

UBC OneDrive where students can collaboratively annotate documents in real time, regardless of their location. You can also use tools like iClicker Cloud to provide active learning opportunities for both on-campus and remote students at the same time.


Dr. Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt University, discusses a variety of ways of engaging students both remotely and in the classroom in the podcast “Active Learning in Socially Distanced Classrooms and Online Courses.

Encourage ‘peer mentor’ opportunities

Students often learn best by helping their peers. Consider ways you can connect your on-campus and remote students so that they can share resources such as class notes. This could be as easy as setting up a discussion forum for students to share resources and discuss key points or common misunderstandings. Or, you may want to create a buddy scheme that pairs a remote student with an on-campus classmate, as an assigned point of contact.


Set up an online space for your students to interact and collaborate. This can be done by creating groups in Canvas or by using a tool such as MS Teams to support communication and collaboration between your students. 

Connect with your remote students

Your on-campus students have the opportunity to stop by your office (or your TA’s) to ask questions during office hours. Consider holding regular Zoom office hours to support remote students. This is a great way to connect with your remote students, even if you’re not able to stream or record class meetings.

Observe and adjust

Even though you may have experience with online and in-person teaching, having students who are both on campus and remote at the same time is probably a new experience. Observe how your on campus students respond to your teaching and pay close attention to student engagement. Also, reach out to your temporarily remote students via email or a brief survey for feedback. Where possible, make adjustments and integrate their suggestions. More information about mid-course feedback is available for instructors. 


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Get support

Have questions about how to support temporarily remote students?

There are several support options available to you. You may find UBC resources such as Keep Teaching or the Online Teaching Program useful. 

For instructors at UBC Vancouver you can seek individualized support throughinstructional support for your faculty or request a one-on-one consultation with a CTLT educational consultant by completing the form below. For instructors at UBC Okanagan you can request one-on-one consultation with an educational consultant at the CTL. Consultations allow you to explore strategies for supporting students who may be unable to attend class at any point this term. Advice will be tailored for your instructional style, course expectations, and familiarity with learning technologies.

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