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To help direct students in their learning during the pandemic, we as faculty have been tasked with harnessing a range of digital technologies. Acquiring these additional skills has been easier for some, more challenging for others. Faculty at Northern Arizona University, where I teach, moved to a remote and synchronous teaching environment last fall. Below are student engagement strategies shared by faculty who were able to reflect on their successes with remote teaching. These include engagement strategies for synchronous and asynchronous learning, ideas for managing the class in the synchronous and remote learning environments and ensuring instructor presence.

Engagement strategies for synchronous sessions

Participation ideas for asynchronous learning

Managing class in the synchronous and remote learning environment

Ensuring instructor presence

While all these strategies focus on fostering engagement and maintaining motivation, some of the most powerful endeavors entail reaching out to students who are struggling with the new learning format. As an instructional designer, I am witness to the incredible effort faculty are investing in their intentional preparation, transition to accessible content, and altering their assessments to be more authentic. Students notice and appreciate the effort. Please keep in mind that this effort can serve as a model for work expected in the course, in addition to highlighting your concern for your students’ success.


Samantha Clifford, EdD, is an instructional designer with Northern Arizona University’s Online Innovative Educational Initiatives and part-time adjunct professor in the Department of Anthropology. Dr. Clifford has worked in the areas of faculty professional development, academic student success, and international education.