Turning on a Dime: Resources and Advice for Taking Classes Online

Many AAS Members in the United States and Europe are course instructors who find themselves in the unexpected position of teaching remotely for the coming weeks or months due to the spread of COVID-19 around the world. Making this abrupt switch when a course has been carefully planned and partially completed face-to-face is a significant challenge—one that demands flexibility, creativity, and clear communication between faculty and students.

To support AAS Members in their efforts, we’ve compiled a variety of resources and words of wisdom from colleagues sharing their own experiences with teaching remotely. We’ll continue to add to the list below; if you have a link you’d like us to consider, please tweet it at us (@AASAsianStudies) or email it to mcunningham@asianstudies.org.


The University of Hong Kong’s Gender Studies Programme has launched an Online Pedagogies page to collect reflections from faculty on their online teaching experiences. Elizabeth LaCouture writes about the lessons she learned in “Managing the Switch to Online Learning,” and Jason Petrulis shares his thoughts on “Teaching a Large Lecture Class Remotely, due to Coronavirus.”

The Center for Education Innovation at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has compiled an extensive guide for those new to teaching via Zoom: “Zoom Teaching Good Practices and FAQs.”

At Inside Higher Education, Stephanie Moore and Charles B. Hodges have a step-by-step guide to moving a lecture-based class online.

Twitter user @fultonhistory: “Not sure who needs this, but Don’t overthink moving online. Keep it simple. Set basic expectations, go with the content and tech you know and have comfort with, be flexible and check your ego on due dates/times—you may need to caffeinate a little more, but you’re gonna be ok.”

In “Transforming Your Online Teaching From Crisis to Community,” Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis discuss the importance of “engaged” learning: “understanding the condition of our students’ lives and finding the best ways of teaching within (rather than in spite of) those conditions.”

A few Twitter threads of advice from faculty members who have taught classes online:

HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) co-director Jacqueline Wernimont shares “Thoughts & Resources for Those About to Start Teaching Online Due to COVID-19” at the interdisciplinary organization’s website.

Not all students are prepared to make a quick pivot to online classes, as Catherine J. Denial reminds readers in a Houston Chronicle op-ed piece.

This is also the message of a blog post by Rebecca Barrett-Fox, who pleads with instructors, “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online.”

Twitter user @EGonzaba: “Sharing a tip I learned years ago from the brilliant folk who teach exclusively online: I try to end my all my class emails with a “P.s. here’s a funny photo” bit. Students tend to gloss over our usual dry emails, but these photos show them we’re not always stoic robots”

Additional Links – March 13, 2020

Duke Kunshan University switched to online teaching in February; read advice from faculty there in this article at Ithaka S+R, “Duke Kunshan University: A Case Study of Implementing Online Learning in Two Weeks.”

Making all online course materials accessible is vitally important. Get advice on how to ensure your class meets these standards in this post by Aimi Hamraie, “Accessible Teaching in the Time of COVID-19.”

Update — March 16, 2020

Inside Higher Ed has posted a number of essays and resources for instructors who are making the switch to remote teaching, including “As Human As Possible,” by Colleen Flaherty, and  “Your Suddenly Online Class Could Be a Relief,” by Alexandra L. Milsom.

Get loads of tips and tricks in “How Hong Kong Teachers Have Been Moving Learning Online Amidst COVID-19,” by Shirley Lee.

Duke Kunshan University professor Andrew Field shares his thoughts on taking a small face-to-face seminar online.

“Nothing will be perfect. Everything will be okay,” reassures Georgetown Learning Design Specialist Lee Skallerup Bessette in a new post at her blog.

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