Best Practices for Student Remote Work

Individual Work

  1. Students (and faculty) should try to “maintain” course hours. That is, they should work or be communicating with students for that class during that already-scheduled OR  new times if lecture capture is being used. Communicate any changes to students. Think about time zone issues, which may prove difficult for some students who will be far from Cornell. Regular course times are a known, and can be used for lecture, discussions, touching base, etc.  (Remember, lectures can also be recorded and done asynchronously.
  2. Self-care is essential. Everyone should be strict with themselves about separating work and personal time each day. As we know from air travel, help yourself before assisting others.
  3. Everyone should be strict about work space vs. personal space. Many people will have to now be working in their personal space (as in, their desks are in the same room as their beds). It’s really important that in these kinds of close quarters, prep your days as if they are at work: get up, shower, eat, get dressed, and go out the door to their “commute” (even if that is a walk around the block).  Re-enter the space and get to work.  Do the reverse at the end of the day: leave the space walk around the block in the other direction, come back home, change into comfy clothes, etc.  This is frequently discussed by remote workers as a game-changer for separating out life/work balance.
  4. Remote work might allow for better self-care overall. In some ways the more flexible days can play in your favor. If the sun breaks out of the clouds, take a walk.
  5. Use Zoom or Skype for f2f meetings in order to keep social contact and interactions strong. Personal links for remote work are essential for success. Purposefully schedule these into regular working days.
  6. Use a tool like Trello for self-tracking of tasks and course assignments, tracking, and completion notes.
  7. Maintain respectful language and professional interactions with your now-online work community.
  8. Use white noise, background music, or background noise channels to help your focus while working. For example, YouTube has hours-long tracks or channels of nature noises, travel noise, and music for free.
  9. Bonus point: “Remote work” is now a talking point on for your résumé.

Working in Teams

  1. Differentiation in tasks will become key. A live team meeting should be done asap to discuss new or more closely-drawn responsibilities.  The fluidity of f2f teams allows for some laxness in this regard, and that luxury is now gone.
  2. Adherence to group communication strategies is a must. If your teams didn’t already have a charter or workflow document, they need to make one now. Create together a “rules of engagement” document that outlines how respectful interactions will take place between the team and within online work  communities.
  3. Rely heavily on living, cloud-based documents. Consistent and predictable use agendas, meeting minutes, task tables, Trello, Asana, Slack, Google Docs/slides, or whatever to keep projects moving along is now essential, not theoretical.
  4. Everyone should know how to use the online tools. Ask for help if you don’t know how to do something. To keep with the air travel metaphor, you must know how to use the “life support” systems available to you.
  5. Use a tool like Slack for ongoing discussions.
  6. Use a tool like Trello or Asana or Monday for task assignments, tracking, and completion notes.
  7. Use an app like Scribble Together for brainstorming and ideation.

The original content for this section was presented by Gabe Lane. Additional materials and information from Rick Evans, Allison Hutchison, Walker White, and Kathy Dimiduk (Cornell University).

Team Charters

Teams, whether f2f or remote, should set up expectations for their “rules of engagement.” This document can help  teams and their instructors prepare.

Consider using CATME (Comprehensive Assessment for Team Member Effectiveness) for team assessment and self-reporting.

Canvas Quiz Sample for Assessing Student Access to Technology

This type of “quiz” or survey  can help instructors understand what online/tech affordances or constraints students might face once they leave campus.

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