How a UCLA Professor is Adapting Her Curriculum for Remote Learning 

How a UCLA Professor is Adapting Her Curriculum for Remote Learning 

As educational institutions close in-person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, educators have the monumental task to rapidly adapt their curriculum for remote learning. Millions of students and educators have adopted Zoom as part of the new “normal” in academic life, and you can rest assured, it’s completely possible to create thriving virtual learning environments.

Cue Dr. Amanda Montoya, Assistant Professor of Quantitative Psychology at UCLA. In an effort to provide a better understanding — and a little reassurance — of what’s possible for educators who may feel uncertain about how to proceed, she shares her experiences and ongoing process for engaging with students in completely virtual environments.

In this interview, Dr. Amanda Montoya discusses the following:

  • How video impacts engagement and teaching
  • How she provides “lectures”
  • How she holds office hours
  • How she runs group collaboration
  • How she manages students’ schedules
  • How her students have responded to this change
  • Remote learning advice for other educators

The importance of ‘video on’

One of the most impactful changes an instructor can make is to encourage students to turn their video on. 

“It’s really, really hard to teach people, you can’t see,” Montoya said. “You can’t see students reacting and how they are taking in information.”

It also creates a more lifelike experience and can help instructors adapt based on visual cues. Montoya said that a lot of her colleagues are asking their students to turn on their cameras during live lectures to see their reactions but also because it feels like lecturing into a void otherwise.

Live and pre-recorded lectures

Running lectures doesn’t always have to be live. For real-time interaction, scheduling a Zoom Meeting is a great way to go. Another option, though, is to offer lessons as Zoom recordings, which you can do by yourself and capture your video, any shared content, and annotations, and share out to students. Recorded lectures offer a ton of schedule flexibility, and students can watch lectures at the pace they prefer.

If you have a Basic license, local recording is the only option for you so you’ll just need to upload the video somewhere for viewing. For Pro, Business, and Enterprise licenses, you have access to cloud recording as well, which automatically uploads the video to the Zoom cloud and provides a shareable link. 

When it comes to live versus recorded lectures, there are pros and cons to both methods, so determine which one provides more value for your students.

Record your lectures with Zoom

Virtual office hours

Instructors can adapt their office hours as a virtual event to stay accessible to students. (Oregon State put together a really awesome doc for their instructors.) With Waiting Rooms enabled, students can hop into your online office hours, get admitted in by an instructor, ask a quick question, and go back to work. Check out this demo here:


Team-based activities, collaboration

Breakout Rooms allow instructors to divide their Zoom Meeting into smaller groups. Instructors can choose to split students into Breakout Rooms automatically or manually, and they may enter any breakout room at any time and switch between them.


Managing student schedules

The flexibility of Zoom online classes helps reduce some of the scheduling issues for students, according to Montoya. “Many of our students are going home to different time zones, and that might mean you have to accommodate time differences,” she says.

With Zoom’s recording capabilities, Montoya says you can be more flexible with their time rather than saying a student has to come to a lecture at a specific day and time.

Student response to the virtual shift

Montoya says her students generally are happy with the online coursework and office hours, in terms of instructor accessibility.

“In general, I’ve found more students coming to [Zoom] office hours than when I have them on campus. Part of that I think is just an access thing … but I’ve had really good attendance. I feel like I’ve gotten to connect more with some of my students.”

Final thoughts …

Montoya admits that every teacher teaches differently, and many will adjust their virtual coursework to how they want to teach. But no matter what, playing around with the platform is really important, she said. You’ll get familiar with setting up Breakout Rooms, doing annotations, and other Zoom functionality before trying it for the first time in front of 500 students. 

And Montoya said she finds it extremely helpful to Zoom with colleagues, experiment with the features, and bounce ideas off one another. Just remember: It’s an ongoing process, and every little step is progress. 


Thanks to Dr. Montoya for joining us! You can find more information on how educators at all levels are using Zoom in our Educating Over Zoom resource page, which includes blogs, guides, and additional best practices for securely using Zoom for remote learning.

Or, sign up for a personalized demo with a Zoom product specialist today to learn more about using Zoom for remote learning and distance education!

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