Recommendations for blended synchronous and remote teaching:

  • Make iLearn your primary “Home Base” for your course.  There are many helpful guides for using iLearn.  Set-up an iLearn course shell for each course you are teaching.  To access iLearn :
  • Send a message to your class letting your students know when and how the class will meet and any other major changes to the remaining assignments in the semester. Also, let the students know the best way to communicate with you for the rest of the term.
  • The web conferencing tool Zoom, gives you a way to deliver lectures, hold class discussions, share your screen to show slides and chat with your students. You can use these helpful  instructions to get you started with Zoom. 


Determine schedule changes:

If a situation that leads to the need for rapid online teaching may last a while, such as an outbreak of a pandemic disease that may keep the campus closed for weeks, check with your department chair for schedule changes.  

Communicate effectively:

Students will need to learn from you what to do in situations that have led to campus closure. Ask your students to keep communication channels open and to access their iLearn course sites regularly.  Additionally, using the communication tools such as messages and announcements tools within iLearn will allow for the constant flow of communication.

In addition to receiving official notifications from the college, you should inform students to make sure that they pay attention to the iLearn bullhorn notifications for announcements and email (which is called “messages” in iLearn), that you can use to communicate about your plan for the course.

While the process will no doubt feel unfamiliar and at times possibly frustrating, try as much as possible to be patient. There will always be hiccups, but times of disruption are, by their nature, disruptive, and everyone expects that. Be willing to switch tactics if something isn’t working. Above all, stay focused on making sure the students are comfortable, and keep a close eye on the course learning goals--while you might not be able to teach something exactly the way you imagined, as long as you’re still meeting the learning goals of the course, you’re doing fine.


Marist College offers video web conferencing software for you to use to communicate, collaborate, and work with students. Learn all about Zoom here.


Synchronous vs. Asynchronous

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous?

There are two options for instructors to facilitate class sessions remotely:

  1. Synchronous: instructors and students gather at the same time and interact in “real time” with a very short or “near-real time” exchange between instructors and students.
  2. Asynchronous: instructors prepare course materials for students in advance of students’ access. Students may access the course materials at a time of their choosing and will interact with each over a longer period of time.

Instructors may choose to engage their students synchronously or asynchronously depending on the course content or material that needs to be taught. There are many advantages and disadvantages to asynchronous and synchronous teaching options.

Advantages of Synchronous Teaching

  1. Immediate personal engagement between students and instructors, which may create greater feelings of community and lessen feelings of isolation
  2. More responsive exchanges between students and instructors, which may prevent miscommunication or misunderstanding


Disadvantages of Synchronous Teaching

  1. More challenging to schedule shared times for all students and instructors
  2. Some students may face technical challenges or difficulties if they do not have fast or powerful Wi-Fi networks accessible 


Advantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  1. Higher levels of temporal flexibility, which may simultaneously make the learning experiences more accessible to different students and also make an archive of past materials accessible.  
  2. Increased cognitive engagement since students will have more time to engage with and explore the course material. 


Disadvantages of Asynchronous Teaching

  1. Students may feel less personally exchanged and less satisfied without the social interaction between their peers and instructors. 
  2. Course material may be misunderstood or have the potential to be misconstrued without the real-time interaction.

If you are new to using ILearn, you may appreciate some orientation to key ILearn tools and functions. 


  • Assignments: Instructors can create space for students to upload submissions, from informal reflections to formal written assignments and projects. Instructors can select the grading approach within the assignment. Assignments are best for instructors who wish for the students’ work to only be viewed and assessed by the instructor.
  • Announcements: Instructors can send mass e-mails or messages to the whole class community via the Announcements tool. The benefit to using Announcements over e-mail is that instructors do not need to collect individual student e-mail addresses and that the messages are archived in the course ILearn site.
  • Discussions: Instructors can create threaded, written discussions for instructors to engage in written (or audio/video) dialogue with each other and respond to written prompts.
  • Resources: Instructors can post key course documents, like the syllabus, readings, assignment sheets, and activity descriptions in this space.
  • Gradebook:  Instructors can share assessment outcomes. 
  • Test and Quizzes: Tests and Quizzes
  • Lessons: Instructors can organize course content into several chunks or groups of learning content. The pieces of information that students will access, including the syllabus, assignment sheets, activity descriptions, and outside links and resources, can be grouped together in the order that students might access those resources during a synchronous or asynchronous class session. Modules can give students access to readings, activity descriptions, outside links, and assignment submission links all in one place.

For more information about organizing iLearn course, please sign-up to attend one of our workshops.

List of resources and instructional tips: