Explore resources for remote instruction

Welcome, GSIs! This Hub contains a curated set of training guides on remote instruction tools, best practices created by GSIs, support options for GSIs, and relevant campus policies and resources.

How to use the Hub

It’s up to you, but Getting Started is a good place to begin to review a sample syllabus and pre-course survey. Essential Tools will guide you through Berkeley’s two core remote instruction tools. Delve into Best Practices to explore robust best practices developed by UC Berkeley GSIs. Want to create content, like videos, narrated slide presentations, quizzes, discussions, collaborations, and more? Check our Content Creation Tools guides. To get personalized help, go to the Support tab.

Visit the GSI Teaching & Resource Center

Explore the Hub

Most courses taught remotely at UC Berkeley will include bCourses and Zoom. Explore our recommended training on getting started with bCourses and Zoom.


To start, follow our best practice recommendation of using Modules to create a structured learning flow for your students, and learn the basic functions like Announcements.

Log in: https://bcourses.berkeley.edu/
Attend: DLS Getting Started with bCourses (1-hour campus workshop)


Use Modules to create an organized + cohesive learning flow for your students — then set your course home page view to Module View for easy access.

WATCH: “Getting Started with Modules” with Kara Ganter, Director of Digital Education, Graduate Division

What are modules?
Adding modules
Adding items to modules
Setting the course home page

Reference, as needed: Canvas Instructor Guide Knowledge Base, Modules

Basic Functions

Setting your course home page
Sending announcements
Adding files
Creating a quiz
Creating assignments
Creating discussions 
Creating groups
Creating a Google Docs collaboration
Reference, as needed: Canvas Instructor Guide Knowledge Base


Learn how to use Zoom to create engaging synchronous class meetings with breakout rooms, polling and screensharing.

Log in: https://berkeley.zoom.us/

Breakout Rooms

Use breakout rooms to encourage active learning and collaboration (and break things up, pun intended) in your synchronous class meetings.

WATCH: “Breakout Rooms Tutorial” with Kara Ganter, Director of Digital Education, Graduate Division

Managing breakout rooms


Use Zoom polling to enhance classroom inclusivity + engagement.

Polling for meetings


Use screen sharing to share visual aids during your live meetings.

WATCH: “Sharing Writing in the Virtual Space” with Kara Ganter, Director of Digital Education, Graduate Division

Sharing your screen

Reference, as needed:
UC Berkeley Zoom FAQ
Zoom Help Center
Zoom Video Tutorials

1. Communicate early and often with the Instructor of Record.

  • Reference the Pre-Semester Checklist for Getting Started as a GSI Teaching Remotely for questions to ask in your first meeting with the Instructor of Record.
  • Inform yourself of important campus policies related to remote instruction and discuss them with the Instructor of Record as appropriate.
  • Meet regularly with the Instructor of Record throughout the semester.
  • Review Article 32 of the UC UAW contract, which describes how the overall hours for the semester may be distributed and the process for resolving issues over workload.
  • Keep track of the hours you spend on all activities associated with your GSI appointment.
  • If you find yourself exceeding your appointment percentage (e.g., for a 50% GSI, 20 hours per week; please see Article 32 of UC UAW contract), then it is up to you to alert the instructor as soon as you can so that they can work with you to make the necessary adjustments.
  • Speak openly with the Instructor of Record about workload expectations, and continue to check in during the semester.  If there are additional but essential tasks due to the Remote Teaching environment, talk about what other tasks might be simplified to reduce the required time.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, you might also contact your department’s Faculty Advisor for GSI Affairs, who should be available to discuss a variety of issues around your GSI appointment.

2. Actively solicit appropriate information about your students and their situations.

  • Use a pre-course survey to identify the technological devices that students have, the reliability of their Internet connections, their time zone and their access to a quiet workspace.
  • Consider including pre-course survey questions about how students tend to feel most comfortable participating in class, their past preparation for the kind of course you are teaching, and what has worked well for them in the remote classes they have taken before.
  • Consider including one or more pre-course survey questions that will help you build community and connection with students (e.g., what kinds of media have they been enjoying recently?).
  • Be careful not to solicit information that invades your students’ privacy (e.g., whether they are responsible for childcare).
  • Encourage students to let you know about their DSP accommodations on your syllabus, in your first announcement to them, and in your first synchronous or recorded asynchronous meeting.
  • Include a question on your mid-semester feedback form about any changes in students’ access to technology or general situations that might impact their learning.

3. Review, respond, and adjust your teaching according to the information that your students provide.

  • If you have students who do not have access to a needed laptop, hotspot, tablet, webcam, microphone or headphones, refer them to STEP.  Then, follow up to confirm that they were able to get the device(s) they needed.  Keep in mind that the functionalities of Zoom and other platforms differ based on the devices your students use.
  • If you have students who have DSP accommodations, ask the Instructor of Record what adjustments will be made to honor them, and specify who will communicate with the students about them.
  • If you ask about students’ preferred modes of participation on your pre-course survey, be transparent with students about the range of activities and ways of participating that they prefer, and let them know that you will use a variety of approaches to help them learn the material.

4. Actively foster connection with your students.

  • Consider creating short, regular weekly video announcements rather than written announcements to convey your presence and support for your students. This may help them feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns.
  • Be open to scheduling office hours at various times.
  • Consider requiring students to meet with you at least once and ask directly what you can do to support their learning.
  • Consider spending some time explaining how office hours work and how students can make use of them, and actively mentor your students in your office hours rather than assuming that they know how to make the most of their one-on-one time with you.
  • If you include pre-course survey questions to build community, review students’ answers and use them to build rapport and engagement.
  • Follow up promptly with students who miss assignments, class meetings, or office hours.

5. Actively foster connection and collaboration among your students.

  • Consider developing community agreements with or for your class/section/studio/lab.
  • Consider organizing groups that your students work in for extended periods.
  • Consider setting up an asynchronous discussion board where they can post questions for each other.
  • Consider scheduling Zoom meetings just for them to work with each other.
  • Consider offering to organize opt-in study groups so that no one who would like to participate is left out.

6. Practice inclusion.

  • Include a statement on your section syllabus expressing that you are dedicated to supporting all students’ access to the resources and support they need to succeed in your class.
  • Provide links to campus resources including programs that grant access to technology, DSP, basic needs support, etc. (see sample diversity and inclusion syllabus statements here).
  • Specify what your students can do if something happens in your class/section/studio/lab that feels exclusionary or offensive.  Can they go to you?  If they don’t feel comfortable going to you, can they submit a concern anonymously or go to someone else?
  • Learn how to pronounce your students names, and then pronounce them correctly.
  • Give students a way to share their gender pronouns, if they wish (e.g., on your pre-course survey, by editing their Zoom name).
  • Keep in mind that the pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on BIPOC students, working class and poor people, undocumented people, and women (to name a few), and that this may have repercussions for your students and/or their family members.
  • Include questions on your mid-semester evaluation about how the students are experiencing inclusiveness in your class/section/studio/lab.
  • Actively monitor Zoom chat and discussion boards and respond promptly if you see anything that could be offensive or exclusionary.

7. Mind your students’ “cognitive load.”

  • Remember that too much stress hampers cognitive processing. Help your students re-orient to your class/section/studio/lab by regularly reminding them of the content you have covered so far, and showing them how it connects to what you’re doing now.
  • Offer review sessions.  If possible and needed, shift assignment deadlines and/or reduce the demands placed on students. Be sure to get any changes approved by the Instructor of Record.
  • Acknowledge the news of the day, and when necessary, give students the chance to discuss it (or to opt out of such discussions with no penalty).
  • Look out for “water cooler talk” about events that may be particularly upsetting to some.

8. Actively check your students’ comprehension.

  • Use “low stakes assessments” to check students’ comprehension regularly.
    • Asynchronous:
      • Five-minute papers
      • bCourses quizzes with explanations for right and wrong answers
  • Q&A discussion boards
    • Synchronous:
      • Solicit questions from students:
        • Pause and acknowledge that the material you are covering is difficult.
        • Express that you expect students to have questions.
        • Give them a minute to formulate questions alone or with peers.
        • Provide multiple ways for students to ask questions including, if possible, anonymously.
    • Use polls and discuss the results together.
    • When having students work together in breakout rooms, require some clearly determined output (e.g., answers to a question in a Google doc or shared whiteboard) so you can see how they are understanding the material.  For more on effective group work, reference this article.
  • Break larger assignments down into smaller parts and provide scaffolding and feedback as students work on each component. To keep your workload manageable, build peer feedback into the process.

9. Actively solicit your students’ feedback.

  • Use informal polls or Google forms to gather students’ feedback about what is and is not working for them.
  • Administer a mid-semester feedback form to have students assess the impact of your teaching on their learning. Share a summary of their responses and let them know what adjustments you will make given their feedback.

10. Choose your technology wisely.

  • Technology tools should be selected based on the learning outcomes you are trying to achieve. Identify learning outcomes for each activity, class, or assignment and evaluate which tools will best enable your students to reach the outcomes. Remember that, in addition to cognitive learning outcomes, others such as fostering inclusion, collaboration, and a sense of belonging are worthy outcomes in their own right.
  • Students are subject to technological overwhelm. Only introduce new technology that:
  • Allows you to do important things that the technology you are already using cannot do.
  • Works in the service of your learning objectives (not novelty).

11. If you are designing the syllabus, carefully consider the affordances and limitations of synchronous versus asynchronous activities.

  • As much as possible, provide opportunities for students to fulfill course requirements asynchronously. Limit mandatory synchronous activities.
  • Pre-record all lecture content with closed captions; provide access to slides and lecture notes beforehand. Please note that if an Instructor of Record receives a formal request for captioning in a student’s Letter of Accommodation, the instructor is required to provide that accommodation. Captions required as part of an accommodation should be provided by the Disabled Students’ Program (DSP). Automated captions generated, for example, by Google or YouTube are not acceptable. (Please see DSP’s Communication Services for Faculty and Instructors).
  • Use untimed assessments; consider flexible deadlines, with approval from the Instructor of Record.
  • If you do any non-recorded synchronous activities, provide alternatives for students who cannot attend, e.g., a worksheet with questions and prompts that students can use to follow along and confirm their comprehension; a recorded summary of the discussion that happened (“we discussed a, covered b, c, and d, and concluded e”).
  • Use synchronous meetings to promote engagement and collaborative learning (polls, breakout rooms, chat).

Below are content-specific best practices created by GSIs during the summer 2020 Graduate Remote Instruction Innovation Fellows Program. Explore these detailed best practice guides based on common GSI assignments.

(Re)Designing discussion sections

Teaching labs (STEM)

Teaching Reading and Composition

Teaching foreign languages

Teaching studios

(Re)Designing courses

Our 2020 GRI (Graduate Remote Instruction) Innovation Fellows reviewed technical tools that could be used in remote instruction. Peruse their reports below.






Google Earth













Streetcar 2 Subduction



Need to create asynchronous content for your course, or instruction that occurs outside of “in-person” class time, like quizzes, discussions, collaborations, videos, or narrated slide presentations? Explore these recommended tools.


You know the basics of bCourses, like Modules and Announcements. Now use the powerful tools in bCourses to create a wide variety of asynchronous activities for students to engage with on their own time, like quizzes, discussions, peer reviews, and collaborations.


Use quizzes to create valuable formative assessment opportunities for your students (after all, it’s about the journey, not the destination, right?).

What quiz types can I create in a course?
Creating a quiz

Reference, as needed: Canvas Instructor Guide Knowledge Base, Quizzes

Peer Review

Use peer review assignments or discussions to foster student collaboration and peer learning.

Using peer review assignments in a course
Creating a peer review assignment

Using peer review discussions in a course
Creating a peer review discussion


Using discussions with a clear prompt can foster student collaboration and peer learning. To start, add a student introductions discussion and encourage short video submissions.

Creating discussions 

Zoom Recording

Recording a meeting (of one!) in Zoom is a quick way to create a lecture video, or to bring in guest speakers who cannot make it during your normal class time.

Getting started with Zoom meeting recordings


You already may use PowerPoint. Learn how to convert your PowerPoint presentations into a slick narrated slideshow “video”.

Record slide show with narration and slide timings
Record presentations

Kaltura (bCourses My Media)

Use the Kaltura video management tools (integrated into bCourses under My Media) to create, manage, (lightly edit), and share videos and other media with your students. Students also have access to these video tools.

Log in: enable Kaltura in your account via bCourses My Media tab

Watch: Kaltura Overview (1 min video)
Attend: Getting Started with Kaltura (1-hour guided workshop)
Lecture Recording with Kaltura Capture (1-hour guided workshop)

Step-by-step getting started: DLS Kaltura How-To and Best Practices Guide

Reference, as needed: UC Berkeley Kaltura Knowledge Base
DLS Kaltura Service Page


Use Google Suite collaboration tools to create activities that increase engagement, both in your live sessions or with asynchronous activities.

Log in: to Google using your CalNet ID and password


Google Slides offer a cloud-based, collaborative option for your slide presentations with perks you can’t get with PowerPoint (like auto-captioning or group editing during your live presentations).

Change the theme, background, or layout in Google Slides
Insert or delete images & videos
Crop and adjust images
Present Slides with captions

Reference, as needed: Learning about G Suite for Education
Google Slides Knowledge Base


Use Jamboard to sketch your ideas whiteboard-style while benefiting from the access and connectivity of an interactive canvas. Drop images, add notes, and pull assets directly from the web while collaborating with team members from anywhere.

Reference, as needed: Learning about G Suite for Education

If you are a GSI, you can get one-on-one help from a Graduate Student Teaching Consultant or an Instructional Designer.

Schedule a meeting

Meet with a Graduate Student Teaching Consultant

Meet with an Instructional Designer

Email the GSI Teaching & Resource Center

Send an email question to [email protected]

These selected resources from Graduate Division and across campus may contain information relevant to GSIs as they prepare for the fall semester.*


Addressing GSI Concerns: Fall 2020 Instruction FAQ (Graduate Division)

GSI Academic Appointments, COVID-19 Information (Graduate Division)



*Keep in mind that some information included may be relevant to other audiences and/or controlled by another campus department.. Due to rapidly changing circumstances, some information may have more recently updates that have not been posted.