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Remote work, authentic online learning, and Covid-19 resources

Bring students into the conversation as early as possible by having them collaborate on the syllabus, outline the objectives of the course, design activities and assessments, etc.

Jesse Stommel


Fried, F. & Heinemeier Hansson, D. (2020). Remote work Q&A Part I and Part II. The Rework Podcast.

This is a longer than usual introduction to the podcast but I thought that some context would be useful.

At the beginning of last year I began the process of moving my department administrative operations into Basecamp (a project management service) as part of a larger plan to enable our staff to work remotely and with more flexibility. As part of that process I’ve also been doing a lot of reading around remote and flexible working policies, which has included 3 books written by the team at Basecamp.

  • Remote
  • Rework
  • It doesn’t have to be crazy at work

One of the reasons why I chose Basecamp for our project management is that I really buy into the philosophy of the team who develops the software. Which brings me to this podcast recommendation. The wide-ranging conversation between Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson covers questions like:

  1. What are some good strategies for making the remote workers feel more connected and not left out?
  2. How do you handle the transition in a company that hasn’t been very remote until now and can’t make a quick switch to writing more?
  3. How do you prioritize tasks? What’s your productivity system or non-system?
  4. What can you do for taking care of the emotional well-being of the work community that’s going to be remote for weeks in the middle of such unprecedented crises?
  5. …and a load of other excellent questions that are super relevant at a time when departments are now expected to move their entire operations online and to work with remote teams.

If you prefer reading here are the full transcripts for Part I and Part II by scrolling past the list of questions.

I know that this may come across as a bit of a promotion for the company but I really do think that 1) the product is fantastic for remote working, and 2) the philosophy behind their decision making is insightful, thoughtful and humane.


Parker, J., Maor, D., & Herrington, J. (2013). Under the hood: How an authentic online course was designed, delivered and evaluated. Teaching and Learning Forum: Design, Develop, Evaluate – The Core of the Learning Environment.

A key challenge for university professionals is to identify how to construct more interactive, engaging and student-centred environments that promote 21st century skills and encourage self-directed learning. Existing research suggests the use of real-life tasks supported by new technologies, together with access to the vast array of open educational resources on the Internet, have the potential to improve the quality of online learning. This paper describes how an authentic online professional development course for higher education practitioners was designed and implemented using a learning management system (LMS) and an open companion website.

With everyone in the process of moving their programmes online, it’s worth taking some time to think about the activities we’re going to ask students to complete. Instead of spending the bulk of your time moving content online, you may find that you can achieve your programme outcomes by having students complete the kinds of tasks they’d be expected to perform once they’ve graduated.

To be clear, there’s nothing here that we shouldn’t be doing anyway i.e. this isn’t just about responding to the global pandemic. This paper includes useful insights into the kinds of learning tasks we should be developing anyway, whether online, in face-to-face classrooms, or as part of blended learning options.


COVID-19: Moving to online learning for physiotherapy

One of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been a widespread global shutdown of university campuses. Educators from every discipline have been tasked with undertaking an unprecedented wholesale reorganisation of teaching, learning and assessment activities from face to face to online delivery in a matter of days often whilst continuing to deliver their programmes.

In case you haven’t seen any of Ben’s tweets over the past few days, I wanted to highlight his initiative. There are three main aims of this In Beta project:

  1. Collect a few resources that physiotherapy educators can use to incorporate into their own, newly developed, online modules. There’s no need for everyone to build the same things.
  2. Coordinate a couple of discussions around online and remote teaching and assessment of practical skills. See the project page for dates, times and more details.
  3. Share some ideas around how to go about teaching and assessing online. After having never had to think about this, physiotherapy educators are now expected to simply shift entire programmes online. No pressure. Anyway, hopefully there’s some stuff here that might help with the more practical aspects.

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