COVID-19, Remote Learning and the Beauty of All Hands on Deck

All in.

March 18, 2020
 

Never before, in the history of higher education, have so many people, in so many different roles, worked so hard to reach a single objective.

That objective is the rapid transition from face-to-face instruction to remote learning.

Every college and university is now in a place where face-to-face classes must be transitioned to distance learning.

The speed at which this transition must occur means that every professor is turning all their attention to the challenge of how to teach remotely.

The work of the professors is complemented by an enormous range of nonfaculty campus educators.

If a school is clever (or well-resourced) enough to have made the smart investment in building teams with learning designers and educational developers, then those nonfaculty educators are engaged full-time in the transition to remote learning. They are working directly with faculty and departments, creating self-service training materials, and designing and running workshops.

Learning designers and educational developers are working closely with other colleagues across the institution to prepare for remote courses. Librarians are all in. So are the professionals who work across information technology units, from front-line technology support experts to back-end system administrators.

The move to remote learning requires the expertise of colleagues in offices as diverse as student accessibility and student affairs, campus general counsel, off-campus programs, the registrar, communications, and a dizzying array of student-facing and behind-the-scenes campus support organizations.

Watching the transition to remote learning unfold on my campus in real time, I’m blown away by what can be accomplished when everyone works with a common purpose.

Decisions that once took weeks now take hours. Previously entrenched organizational and bureaucratic impediments to agile decision making are being overcome by the necessity to move quickly and at an institutional scale. A bias toward action is replacing the habit of paralysis by analysis. People are trusting each other to make the best decisions they can with the information they have. And everyone seems willing to adapt as circumstances change.

Across our higher ed ecosystem, an unprecedented number and range of those employed at colleges and universities as faculty and staff are all working flat out to accomplish this move to remote instruction.

Faculty who have never had to teach students they did not see face-to-face are suddenly facing the challenge of teaching using only digital mediums of instruction and communication.

Staff who worked on the full range of the services that colleges and universities offer are now spending the majority of their time working to support faculty and students in remote learning.

Everyone is exhausted. And everyone is concerned about getting this as right as we can for our students and our professors. But we are all working together. That feels pretty good.

How is the transition to remote learning going on your campus?

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