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Two teams part of large infrastructure to support faculty during remote learning
Posted on March 26, 2020
The logistics of getting faculty members prepared to teach remotely was an immense undertaking that happened quickly.
The Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and eLearning and Emerging Technologies held in-person workshops and took walk-in appointments in mid-March, assisting faculty with tools and plans to offer course content online.
Yet Christine Rener, FTLC director and vice provost for instructional development and innovation, said while faculty members were working on their content plans, their foremost concern was their students.
"What was concerning faculty at that time was not so much having detailed plans for continued learning, it was connecting with their students to share contact information and relay how students should expect to hear from them," Rener said.
Worries about reaching cell data limits somewhat eased last week when internet providers suspended data caps and raised broadband speeds, making remote learning more accessible. Rener said there are still pockets of students and faculty members without access to what they need, adding there are teams of people working on that problem.
Now with nearly two weeks of remote learning complete, Kim Kenward, instructional designer for eLearning and Emerging Technologies, said she and colleagues continue to host virtual consultations with faculty members, offering tech and pedagogical support, using Blackboard Collaborate and Skype for Business.
"We shared a Google Doc to track the most common questions and answers to make sure there was an easy go-to for all of us," Kenward said. "Some of my colleagues used that to develop additional videos or help documents."
FTLC helped faculty transition to virtual mentoring groups and faculty learning communities, groups that had met in-person. Rener said about 200 faculty members participate in learning communities and 80 are involved in mentoring groups.
Glenna Decker, instructional design specialist, said there have been many successes along the way.
"I have faculty who never thought they would teach outside of a classroom and are finding tools they will continue to use now that they’ve ventured into it," Decker said.
The FTLC website offers links to virtual office hours, teaching resources, and a peer-to-peer crowdsourcing page of faculty members who have expertise in technology and online communication strategies and can assist others.
eLearning and Emerging Technologies website offers links ranging from creating tests and quizzes in Blackboard to resources for performance classes, labs and foreign language classes to web copyright issues.
The Academic Continuity website offers an array of tips as remote learning continues.