We’ve all been in a crunch over the past week and a half as the spread and unknown reach of the Coronavirus sent us all on many directions. During this time, our colleagues have been learning new systems like Microsoft Teams and TechSmith Relay, and our students have been trying to adjust to our online teaching and content delivery in environments so different than UP. In the Learning Commons, we been training tutors to do their work online in MS Teams, hosting trainings for faculty, and developing content for students. As I write this first Coronavirus era TLC blog entry, I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s comment: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” But Twain didn’t have the Internet and couldn’t compress is writing by using hyperlinks like I’ve done below.
So, to be brief, here are some basic ideas that I’ve been gathering in these initial days of COVID-19:
Communicate: Be clear with your students about how you will communicate (i.e., which platforms (Moodle, Teams, Zoom, etc.) you will use. Try to use what we have available here at UP for the sake of consistency and keeping FERPA in mind. Communicate goals of task such as listening and watching lectures and doing readings and include formative assessments that help students know they are reaching those goals.
Chunk: Provide your content in chunks (by day, week, topic, goal); break things down. If you are recording lecture videos. Several 10 minute videos will be better than an hour long recording. You can provide assessment opportunities between videos. If you have students spread out in multiple time zones and want to do some synchronous meeting, hold two or three shorter meetings at different times, so that all can participate at a reasonable time.
Community: Keep a narrative of support going. We’ve all be drinking from a fire hose this last week or so. Encourage your students to be kind to themselves, to build community with each other, and to use some of the strategies for adjusting to online learning that the Learning Commons published last week.
Connect: Provide opportunities for your students to connect with each other and you. This can be done through Teams, but also through other means, like social media, chat, texting, etc. Connect your students to the Learning Commons tutoring which is now all online. Connect yourself to opportunities for learning how to use Teams, TechSmith Relay, and other UP platforms by joining the Faculty Training Sandbox in Teams where training is ongoing or checking out the excellent support documentation that our colleagues in Academic Technology Services and Innovations have developed. You can also link to this from the top of your Moodle page under “Moodle Support.” Also, you may want to turn on your notifications in Moodle, Outlook, and Teams during these days of transition and an increased need for connection.
Kindness: Take care of yourself and be a comfort to your students. These days of COVID-19 are trying times. Our students report feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Remind yourself and your students that we are all growing in the face of difficulties. Things may take longer to accomplish in the coming days and weeks, but we are all learning to create meaningful learning that is central to the UP experience.
I invite you to explore the links above as we re-imagine this semester and our roles as faculty and innovate for the future of our students and our great institution.
Jeffrey White directs the Learning Commons in Buckley Center 163 (and now everywhere online). He is a faculty member in International Languages and Cultures. Jeffrey welcomes the opportunity to help faculty practice and become comfortable with UP’s tools for online teaching and learning. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Teams in the Faculty Training Sandbox.