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5 Ideas for Integrating Instructional Assistants (IAs) into a Remote Course

 Download a PDF of this resource here.

 These are drafted ideas for effectively working with IAs (including TAs, instructional apprentices, tutors, and readers) in the remote environment. Departmental expectations and practices should also be considered, and the IA Faculty Advisor is a great resource for advice related to collaborating with and mentoring IAs.

Essential Communication with Instructional Assistants (IAs)

Identify and communicate expectations for IA responsibilities, being mindful of what can be done within the contracted workload and instructional responsibilities. Consider having specific check-ins for IAs to provide feedback on their workload in this new environment. (Example of IA responsibility checklist)  

Plan frequent communication with IAs. This is likely a new experience for all, and regular communication both through virtual meetings and being responsive to emails can ease anxiety, increase cohesiveness of instruction and course policies, and give the course instructor insight into what students might be experiencing.

Model and be explicit about expectations for interacting with students, including professionalism in online and written interactions, avoiding grade discussions through email, etc.

Encourage IAs to seek out training through webinars, online workshops, and consultations from the Teaching + Learning Commons, expanding their skill set to support instruction and learning.


Effectively Integrating IAs into a Remote Course

IAs can play an important role in gaining insights to students’ prior knowledge and areas of confusion, providing timely feedback, and creating community for the remote students. For examples, the IAs might:

Have a visible presence for the students

Have a visible presence for the students, perhaps by setting up an “IA Discussion Board” or “IA Online Office/Chat” through Canvas for students to easily post questions and comments for the IA. (Consider: How often should the IA check this area? What expectations will be shared with students for types of questions to post here and timeliness of response?)

Directly check-in with students

Directly check-in with students during synchronous (real time) class sessions by joining breakout rooms or private chats. (Consider: Should IAs check in with random students/groups? What prompts might IAs ask to uncover if students are on track with the task or concept?)

Moderate questions from students

Moderate questions from students on discussion boards or Canvas chat/Zoom chat to make sure important comments and questions are addressed. (Consider: Should IAs respond to each question? Pull out frequently asked questions? Do students have guidance on the type of questions to ask in public chat vs private chat to the IA or instructor?)

TIP: Having IAs moderate discussion boards for their individual sections can allow for increased community building.

Collect challenges and misconceptions

Collect challenges and misconceptions noticed in discussion sections and office hours. (Consider: How should IAs communicate these to the instructor? E.g. shared document, email, etc.)

TIP: Exit tickets are another useful way to gather “muddiest points” from students, and can be easily collected remotely via Canvas survey, Google form, or discussion forum.

Regularly request feedback related to technology and learning

Regularly request feedback related to technology and learning from students in their sections, to identify what is working well or causing a challenge. This allows the course instructor to reach out to the appropriate campus support (e.g. Education Technology Services for technology related questions or Teaching + Learning Commons for Remote Instruction Resources & consultations).
5 Ideas for Integrating IAs into a Remote Classroom by the UC San Diego Teaching + Learning Commons Engaged Teaching Hub is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-
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Last Updated: March 17, 2020 Contact ✦