Guidelines for the Remote Teaching Context

Jump to: Course Outline GuideGuidelines for Instructors | Guidelines for Students | Recommendations for Final Assessments

McGill is committed to creating and maintaining respectful and inclusive learning environments aimed at supporting students’ academic success. These Guidelines highlight relevant University policies and parameters required to create virtual teaching and learning spaces that are accessible and pedagogically robust.

These Guidelines set expectations for members of McGill’s academic community participating in remote teaching and learning. These Guidelines complement applicable University regulations and policies, and collective agreements, which continue to apply during remote course and program delivery, including but not limited to:

These Guidelines have been introduced as a temporary measure, in view of the fact that the principal mode of teaching for the Balance of 2020 is through remote delivery. These Guidelines do not supersede any existing university regulations or policies. These Guidelines will be reviewed in December 2020 by the Academic Policy Committee (APC) to determine whether there is a need for them to be revised or, in the event they are no longer needed because regular on-campus teaching has resumed, repealed. Subsequently, Senate will receive, through the APC report, an update on this review and on any other issues or concerns that may arise in the Fall 2020 term with regard to these Guidelines.

Within remote teaching contexts, students enjoy the academic rights that the Charter of Students’ Rights confers, such as the right to fair and reasonable assessment and the right to timely feedback.

📄  Download the Remote Delivery version of the Course Outline Guide (Word template)

In Part A of the Guidelines below, “you”, “your” refer to instructors who are delivering all or part of a course or program to McGill students through remote teaching, such as McGill academic staff members, course lecturers, teaching assistants, or guest lecturers.

In Part B of the Guidelines below, “you”, “your” refer to students enrolled at McGill who are engaged in remote education, including online learning.

A. Guidelines for Instructors

Posted: May 27, 2020 | Updated: July 6, 2020

  1. You are responsible for being familiar with, and abiding by, applicable policies such as the ones listed at the top of this document in the context of remote learning, and otherwise, while you are an instructor at McGill. The more specific information below complements the information provided in existing policies and is not intended as a summary of all policy information pertaining to McGill students involved in remote learning.
  2. As ever, communication with students is critical. Each instructor in charge of a course or program involving teaching with a remote delivery platform should expressly communicate the following types of key information at the start of the term:
    • How you will teach the course (e.g., platform used, fixed (synchronous) class times)
    • How learning activities (e.g., lectures, labs, conferences) will be conducted
    • Whether you will record (with video and/or audio) your fixed class times (this is encouraged, see below), or not record at all
    • Whether/how you expect students to participate in class discussions
    • How students can reach you
    • Which methods of assessment you will use
    • How you will provide feedback
    • What your expectations for class conduct are (e.g., respectful communications)
  3. Recording (audio and/or video) your fixed (synchronous) lectures is strongly encouraged to accommodate students who are unable to participate in those sessions for reasons such as time zones, inadequate Internet bandwidth, and caregiver responsibilities. Instructors will make recordings available to students from within myCourses.
  4. Instructors who record their lectures should do so using Zoom from within myCourses as this helps limit access to authorized McGill students. Note that myCourses has been selected as the preferred platform for hosting recorded lectures since it offers standardized service for McGill instructors and students, thereby providing increased security and data protection, and simplifying user experience/access, information technology maintenance, and platform security. Use of any alternative platform must be approved by the head of the unit, in consultation with the Office of the CIO or its delegate, and always comply with the University’s policies and directives.
  5. Students must consent to being recorded if they are attending a lecture or participating in a component of a course that is being recorded. Students will be notified through a “pop-up” box in Zoom if a lecture or portion of a class is being recorded. If they are not comfortable being in a class that is recorded, students may decide to not take part by logging off Zoom. Instructors will make class recordings available in myCourses so that students who log off will be able to later watch the recording.
  6. Recordings will be kept in myCourses for one year, after which they will be deleted. To protect your lecture recordings and the use of your and other individuals’ images in the recordings in myCourses, the University suggests you post the following notification in myCourses and remind students of it at the beginning of fixed sessions:

    I remind everyone of their responsibility in ensuring that this video and associated material are not reproduced or placed in the public domain. This means that each of you can use it for your educational (and research) purposes, but you cannot allow others to use it, by putting it up on the Internet or by giving it or selling it to others who may also copy it and make it available. Please refer to McGill’s Guidelines for Instructors and Students on Remote Teaching and Learning for further information. Thank you very much for your help with this.
  7. Recordings will not be used to assess an instructor’s performance for the purposes of reappointment, tenure, performance, or merit.
  8. In cases where lectures are not recorded, individual accommodations may be necessary for students who are unable, for a valid reason (e.g., different time zones), to attend “live” lectures or other fixed (synchronous) learning activities.
  9. Instructors may signal to students that they prefer that students leave their cameras on, yet this cannot be required as it may have the unintended effect of (i) creating a disadvantage for students with weak Internet bandwidth or other technological limitations and/or (ii) compromising students’ privacy. If your course requires active participation during the scheduled course time, consider options such as “chat” functions or audio only before compelling students to turn on their cameras, or seek other accommodations guidance from the Office of the Dean of Students.
  10. The University strongly encourages instructors to prioritize accessibility when adapting and teaching their courses. McGill’s equity team has developed a comprehensive set of recommended practices for inclusive and accessible remote learning environments. This resource sets out straightforward measures for instructors to render remote learning environments more accessible for students with disabilities. Instructors can also contact McGill’s Accessibility Advisor, rachel.desjourdy [at] (Rachel Desjourdy), for guidance on enhancing accessibility in remote teaching contexts.

B. Guidelines for Students

Posted: May 27, 2020 | Updated: July 6, 2020

  1. You are responsible for being familiar with, and abiding by, the applicable policies, such as the ones listed at the beginning of these Guidelines, in the context of remote learning, and otherwise, while you are a McGill student. The more specific information below complements the information provided in existing policies and is not intended as a summary of all policy information pertaining to McGill students involved in remote learning.
  2. Per McGill’s Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, “[t]he integrity of University academic life and of the degrees the University confers is dependent upon the honesty, integrity and soundness of the teacher-student learning relationship and, as well, that of the assessment process.” Note that student obligation measures under the heading “C. Academic Offences” in the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (i.e., avoiding plagiarism or cheating) and associated disciplinary measures apply as much during online exams or other remotely-conducted evaluations as exams and other evaluations on McGill premises.
  3. Do not share your login or password information. Keeping this information confidential minimizes the risk of harassment and intrusion into your classes by unauthorized and ill-intended users, and ensures that you remain compliant with the requirements of the Policy on the Responsible Use of McGill’s Information Technology Resources.
  4. Instructors use multiple modes of communication to share their pedagogical materials with students. Their slides, video recordings, lecture notes, etc. remain their intellectual property. As such, you may use these only for your own learning (and research, with proper referencing/citation) ends. You are not permitted to disseminate or share these materials; doing so may violate the instructor’s intellectual property rights and could be cause for disciplinary action.
  5. Because some students may not be able to view lectures in fixed time (i.e., synchronously), many instructors will record their lectures over the Fall 2020 term. Recordings will be made available to students from within myCourses. Students registered in the course will have access by logging in with their McGill credentials.
  6. Recordings will be kept for one year, after which they will be deleted. McGill is taking all reasonable measures to ensure that the recordings are only accessible to registered students in the course.
  7. You must consent to being recorded if you are attending a lecture or participating in a component of a course that is being recorded. You will be notified through a “pop-up” box in Zoom if a lecture or portion of a class is being recorded. If you are not comfortable being in a class that is recorded, you may decide to not take part by logging off Zoom. Students who log off will be able to later watch the video recording in myCourses.
  8. For pedagogical reasons and for the enrichment of the experience of all students, attendance may be monitored and/or active participation may be expected or required during fixed (synchronous) class time. As such, you may be asked to turn on your camera and audio. If you do not have the necessary resources (e.g., adequate Internet bandwidth or equipment) to do so, inform your instructor at the beginning of term so that appropriate accommodations can be made.
  9. In addition to the recording of your image and voice, your name (or preferred name) may be displayed on screen, and your instructor may call your name during the lecture. As such, this personal information will be disclosed to classmates, whether during the lecture or in viewing the recording. By remaining in classes that are being recorded, you accept that personal information of this kind may be disclosed to others, whether during the lecture or in viewing the recording.
  10. The University recognizes the importance of maintaining teaching spaces that are respectful and inclusive for all involved. To this end, offensive, violent, or harmful language arising in contexts such as the following may be cause for disciplinary action:
    1. Username (use only your legal or preferred name)
    2. Visual backgrounds
    3. "Chat" boxes
  11. To maintain a clear and uninterrupted learning space for all, you should keep your microphone muted throughout your class, unless invited by the instructor to speak.
  12. You should follow instructors’ directions about the use of the “chat” function on remote learning platforms.

Recommendations for Final Assessments* for Fall 2020

Posted: June 23, 2020 | Updated: July 6, 2020

This section outlines guidelines and recommendations for all final assessments to be written or submitted during the official exam period for the Fall 2020 term, scheduled for December 8-22, 2020. Individual Faculties may have additional recommendations, which should be communicated to all instructors teaching their courses. Faculties are requested to coordinate between each other to ensure consistency in approaches to final assessments, where possible. Instructors are reminded of the University Student Assessment Policy (USAP), which contains information about final exams. Note that in this policy, any assessment worth more than 10% of the final grade cannot be due during the final two weeks of classes unless it is an oral exam or an assessment assigned per section 3.2.1.

A. Timing and type of assessment
  1. The availability window for all exams, whether timed or not, should be a minimum of 48 hours, including the time required to complete the exam. This is in part because for any exam that students are given less than 48 hours to complete, disability-related accommodations apply, which may create increased work for course instructors.
  2. Open-book, take-home exams do not have a set time within the assigned window during which they must be completed. However, the exam itself should still be of a length and difficulty that would take approximately 3 hours to complete.
  3. Open-book, timed exams should be released at the scheduled start time of the exam according to the official exam schedule.
  4. For open-book, timed exams, time should be added to the submission timeframe to allow for connectivity issues (a suggestion is 30 minutes). Students who have difficulty with a submission due outside of regular IT Support hours should submit a ticket (email ITSupport [at] to officially record that they had an issue.
  5. The submission deadline for take-home exams should match the scheduled exam end time as this will reduce exam conflicts. In general, take-home exams should be released to students a minimum of 48 hours before they are due. Other practices regarding release times may be acceptable provided information is explicit in the course outlines.
  6. Given the extended period of time associated with final assessments, some examinations may end up being due on weekends.
B. Oral examinations and presentations
  1. Instructors can require students to turn their cameras on for oral exams and presentations. However, if students do not have the necessary resources (e.g., adequate Internet bandwidth or camera), instructors will have to offer an accommodation. The Office of the Dean of Students can be consulted to advise on appropriate alternatives. Students may request financial aid from the SSAO if they need to upgrade their Internet service or purchase a camera (see
C. Academic integrity and proctoring
  1. Students can be reminded of the importance of honest work, and to aid in this, an academic integrity statement may be included as part of the final assessment. Students can be required to acknowledge that they have read the statement.
  2. Any form of technology-enabled invigilation by instructors, which includes the use of proctoring software, is not supported except under exceptional circumstances and its use requires approval of the Associate Provost (Teaching and Academic Programs) and the Dean of the Faculty in question. Any such requests should be made in writing to the Dean no later than July 10, 2020.
D. Accommodations and conflicts
  1. Students requesting OSD accommodations should contact the OSD.
  2. Students with final examination conflicts will be contacted by the Exam Office of Enrolment Services, along with the instructors of these exams, to resolve conflicts. This will be done in October, after the final exam schedule has been posted.
E. The Exam Office
  1. Even though final assessments for Fall 2020 will be done remotely, the Exam Office of Enrolment Services will need to collect details for the Method of Evaluation, as is usually the case, from all instructors to prepare a final exam schedule. This final schedule is posted at the end of September on the Exams website (
  2. A communication with links to the Method of Evaluation webforms will be sent to instructors in August to collect details on their in-course and final assessments. The webforms will be modified to include remote modes of assessments.

* Note that these recommendations, especially those related to academic integrity and proctoring, apply to assessments that occur during the term, as well (e.g., mid-term examinations). Specific questions should be addressed to your Associate Dean or the Dean of Students. For mid-term scheduling, instructors should also be mindful of the Policy for the Accommodation of Religious Holy Days.


McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

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