Questions to Ask Your Students

In the shift to remote teaching, especially for those schools and instructors proposing to move online (and potentially synchronous) it’s important to consider student comfort, ability and access along with instructor comfort, ability and access.

Instructor comfort, ability and access will dictate what is possible. Student comfort, ability and access will indicate what is reasonable.

Before you get too far with planning how you shift your course online, it’s a good idea to check in with your students to find out what will work for them. Here are some questions you may want to consider:

Basic Needs

  • Are you in a safe place?
  • Do you have food and other basic needs met?
  • How are you feeling? Are you stressed?
  • Are you in a situation where you are able to learn?

Class Needs

  • Do you have all of your course texts with you? If not, what are you missing?
  • Are there any items that you are missing that you need in order to learn effectively? If yes, what do you need?

Technology Access

  • Do you have / have access to a computer sufficient for writing papers?
  • Do you have sufficient Internet access to participate in a synchronous class session?
  • Do you have sufficient Internet access to use the course learning management system?
  • Do you have sufficient Internet access to watch videos?
  • Do you have / have access to email on a regular basis?
  • Do you have access to a telephone?

Technology Skills and Comfort

  • Do you know how to access online materials via the university library?
  • Are you comfortable using the course learning management system?
  • Are you comfortable participating in a synchronous class session?
  • What technology skills are you worried about, if any, right now?
  • Do you have a preference for learning online synchronously or asynchronously? Using video or text-based communication?


  • What time zone are you currently in?
  • Are you able to meet online during the regular class time? If not, are there other times that would work for you?
  • Do you have any demands on your time that would make it difficult for you to complete the work for this class? If so, what are your constraints or concerns related to time?


  • What are your biggest concerns related to this class right now?
  • How can I help you succeed in this class for the remainder of this term?
  • Do you have any concerns related to school right now? Are these things I can help you with?

This is not an exhaustive list, and not all questions are relevant to each context. However, asking these questions may help you determine what you can reasonably ask of your students for the remainder of the term, what kinds of learning activities and materials might work best, and what kinds of learning assistance and other you might provide for your students.

It would also be a good idea to cycle back to some of these questions in a few weeks, to see if your students still have their basic needs met sufficiently, and to ask some new questions to evaluate how well the reworked class experience is meeting their learning needs.

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