Navigating a Remote Environment

Tracy Jennings, PhD

Teaching Professor and Remote Learning Trailblazer












“Our success with remote
teaching is going to be
dependent on our input from
students, so they’ve been
included and are an important
part of this process.”

Some might say she has become the new face of remote teaching at Leeds. However, engaging students in eLearning is a longtime passion of Tracy Jennings, faculty director of Distance and Online and teaching professor in the Organizational Leadership and Information Analytics Division. She was an early creator of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Coursera and was instrumental in launching the Business Minor content online. In 2019, she also helped pilot two new hybrid courses for the Evening MBA program. So, when it became apparent that Leeds would need to rapidly transition to all remote courses in March, Jennings naturally stepped in to lead the charge. In partnership with Leeds Technology Services, she presented a remote teaching training, covering best practices for live and pre-recorded lectures and online student engagement. She set up a virtual hub of content creation resources and led a team of “Online Teaching Partners,” comprised of faculty available to help troubleshoot problems in colleagues’ remote courses. She diligently sought feedback from interviews, and with Distinguished Professor John Lynch, conducted student surveys to determine what was and wasn’t working. After the semester ended, she took the insights learned to create a new series of summer teaching workshops to increase the quality and consistency of Leeds online instruction and engagement for the fall.

During this time, Jennings worked on a grant for a proposed $1.7M to support distance education over the next two years, including equipment upgrades, hotspots for students who lack quality internet access, video services for large classes, studios for podcasting and more. The program is being supported by generous investments from the Anschutz Foundation and other donors, with continued efforts to fundraise for the full project scope. With an eLearning pioneer like Jennings, Leeds certainly has a great future with varied learning formats ahead.

Interested in supporting eLearning at Leeds?
Contact Trisha McKean at






Harry Starn Assists Leeds with Synchronous Learning

“The synchronous chat is my live classroom.”
Gold bar

Senior Instructor Harry Starn Jr. has more than 15 years of experience creating and teaching online courses, many of them with synchronous learning (online or remote instruction and learning that occurs in real time). When Leeds transitioned to remote teaching, Starn was a valuable resource for his colleagues. He facilitated virtual sessions on delivering live content and navigating Zoom itself. He emphasized that online tools allow for just as much interaction with the students as in the classroom. Starn also underscored the importance of humor, increased communication, adapting to achieve learning objectives, and setting the Zoom stage (e.g., good lighting and sound), among other ideas.
“It is important to keep the class moving,” says Starn. “That means transitioning between screen-share lecture, class conversation with student cameras engaged, polling and breakout rooms.”

Finance in the Cloud

Virtual Conferences
Gold bar

A first-of-its-kind series of events to help up-and-coming finance researchers

Conference cancellations during COVID-19 caused a chasm for academic researchers, eliminating in-person opportunities to exchange ideas and engage in dialogue. Associate Professor Tony Cookson immediately recognized how that would impact professional development for junior faculty. So, he created “Finance in the Cloud,” a series of virtual conferences geared for early-career fi nance researchers, allowing them to continue to workshop their research and limit disruption to their careers.

“I love how flexible virtual classes are. Some of my classes were held via Zoom at specific times, and there were online lectures that you could watch anytime. It was so nice to have that flexibility in your schedule. Online classes were very doable.”

—Sophia Jung (Fin’23)

Teaching and Learning
“The rapid switch to remote teaching was demanding and at times chaotic, but it was also invigorating and fun! Our faculty came together like never before, and those of us with remote teaching experience helped others transition. We are all becoming better educators because the change forced us to think of different ways to deliver content and engage students.”

—Kevin Schaub Faculty

“I miss being at work, but I think Leeds has done an exceptional job of ensuring we stay connected every day. I admire how resilient and creative everyone has been during this transition. It makes me proud to be a Buff!”

—Beth Schwartz Administrative Assistant to Leeds’ Dean Sharon Matusik

Published: Oct. 1, 2020