Open Menu Close Menu

Online Learning

Moving to Digital Learning Fast: Staying Positive

The rushed transition to online instruction during the coronavirus pandemic can be wrought with anxiety, technical issues, concern for students and more. What's the best way to stay positive and support faculty?

smiling woman working on laptop

In this time of uncertainty, the pressure to move courses online quickly can be overwhelming. To help faculty through the transition, Campus Technology asked education technology experts and instructional teams for their online learning tips and advice — and in particular, how to provide support and keep a positive outlook for the future.

This is the final part of a three-part series. You can find part 1, "Moving to Digital Learning Fast: Where to Start," here, and part 2, Moving to Digital Learning Fast: More Questions Answered," here.

How can we better support our faculty through this transition?

"Encourage best practice sharing and share what is working well." —Kara Longo Korte, director, product management at TetraVX

"Providing support and answering educators' questions about using technology in a responsive way. Instructors are also feeling pressure and anxiety about using online teaching tools for the first time." —Michelle Caers, CEO, Crowdmark

"Help them resist the urge to try to perfectly recreate their existing courses in an online environment. Encourage them to identify the most important, key goals and objectives that they want students to focus on, recognizing that many students will not get as much work done during this crisis as they might otherwise be able to. Engagement, encouragement and celebration of successes will help to bolster motivation.

"Provide clear, supportive guidance on expectations of faculty during this time. Help them understand what will be most valuable for students. Help them locate collaboration spaces where they can work with other faculty in their same discipline or topic to share ideas, best practices and lesson plans.

"Provide guidance at the institutional level about expectations relating to grading, assessment and score reporting. This will ensure that all faculty have the same understanding and that students have a consistent, supportive experience in all of their courses." —Joann Kozyrev, VP design and development; Natalie Murray, VP student experience; and Katherine Porter, faculty experience manager, Western Governors University

"This is a scenario where we have to work together through the transition. Invite the faculty to join online communities so they can pick up tricks and tips from their peers. Provide online content to support activities they want to create in the online environment. Create tip sheets for the basics for those just getting started. Make sure faculty have access to online courses/content to learn how to teach online — to manage assignments, student grades, or how to execute online exams." —John Baker, CEO, D2L

"The best way to support faculty through this transition is to ensure resources exist in both a self-service/on-demand fashion, and to give them real-time support services through live training sessions. Support during a transition like this requires us to use multiple channels of communication and at [our university] we surround our faculty with resources.

"Most of all, it is okay for faculty to not be perfect during this timeframe, and to let them know that this is okay. Learning is a process for all of us, and as we adapt to change or a new system, it is the spirit of discovery that sustains us, and not the fear of failure to overwhelm us." —Kelly Herman, vice president, Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion; and Marc Booker, associate provost, University of Phoenix

"Help faculty with setting up their environment from home. Provide them with how-to's and best practices for conducting a course online from their homes. Make sure they are well versed in how to manage their classes and know how to use the technology well. If they are unable to do it, then see about providing a class manager who can help set up the materials, courses and other related activities for them." —Wayne Bovier, founder and CEO at Higher Digital

Is there a silver lining to all of this?

"The silver lining is that this crisis, forcing on-ground faculty to remote teaching, may actually allow those instructors to get comfortable with, and see the value in, leveraging more technology in the classroom. Institutions may come out of this realizing there is an opportunity, and ability, to do more online — potentially creating online degree programs they previously didn't think were possible or didn't have an appetite for." —Carli Tegtmeier, vice president of sales and higher education at Pronto

"I think it will allow people to consider how we can better leverage technology in the future and what we prioritize for face-to-face interactions." —Kara Longo Korte, director, product management at TetraVX

"These uncertain times will force educators to get out of their comfort zone and try new technologies for the first time. These technologies can save educators valuable time and help to improve the feedback they give to students. Once they have success with these new workflows, they will be more likely to use technology when things return to face-to-face." —Michelle Caers, CEO, Crowdmark

"Teaching via new modalities is an excellent opportunity for faculty to spend time thinking about the way students learn. The act of transitioning from in-classroom to online instruction is a great opportunity to innovate — and that innovation should not be lost when the classroom opens again." Katherine Porter, faculty experience manager; Natalie Murray, VP student experience; and Joann Kozyrev, VP design and development, Western Governors University

"We will all gain skills over the coming months that we did not previously have. Once we are able to return to in-person learning, many of these skills can be utilized to augment live teaching with an enhanced virtual presence." —Frederick Lawrence, secretary and CEO, The Phi Beta Kappa Society

"The ability of students to have the option to take fully online courses, to have more communication online. This will improve outcomes and practices if it has been well done." —John Baker, CEO, D2L

"The world of work today demands adaptability and an unprecedented skill set with digital tools and collaboration. There are definitely silver linings that exist to a transition like this including:

"Digital literacy. The use of these tools to learn and collaborate gives us a real-world application that will increase our abilities.

"Enhanced feedback. In an online or virtual environment, students and faculty quickly learn that clear and concise feedback is king. When making a change like this the requirements to hone one's ability to give good feedback will become very apparent. This change will give the opportunity for both faculty and students to assess the ways they communicate with each other and provide feedback, which could make for improved communication in the classroom when they return to face-to-face instruction.

"Change management skills. A transition like this one forces us to look [at] our ability to handle and manage change. This kind of experience can improve our abilities to pivot in a unique situation, which can help students adapt to change when they return to their physical class environments. In fact, this can be used as a learning opportunity to discuss the concept of change when students return to their physical classes as a self-assessment and discovery process for a rich in-class discussion opportunity." —Marc Booker, associate provost; and Kelly Herman, vice president, Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion, University of Phoenix

"Hopefully students will have learned how to manage their time better given they have had to practice self-discipline." —Shaan Patel, founder of Prep Expert

"Online teaching requires a lot of organization. Students can get to resources easily and in one place, which helps them when they need to refer back to something a faculty member shared. They can take screenshots of materials a faculty member shares and add them to their class notes. If an instructor knows the technology, the class participation can be managed just as well online as in-person." —Wayne Bovier, founder and CEO at Higher Digital

Do you have any parting words of advice for educators and IT people?

"As we all practice 'social distancing,' stay connected and be human! We have the tools to #winfromhome without losing the connections that make us human while we do it." —Carli Tegtmeier, vice president of sales and higher education at Pronto

"We must embrace the situation for what it is. At least for the time being, we have a new 'normal' and need to adjust accordingly. Find what works best for an individual and share ideas. Maybe a daily schedule — maybe 'meeting' with friends over a video chat to work together or have a social interaction like a meal or a drink." —Kara Longo Korte, director, product management at TetraVX

"Don't be afraid to ask for help from your colleagues and your solution providers. We are here to help you and the students to continue teaching and learning in whatever form that takes." —Michelle Caers, CEO, Crowdmark

"Using technology as a tool for teaching, rather than just a delivery method, is increasingly possible, so try not to be scared by this opportunity. Embrace the possibilities it offers." —Natalie Murray, VP student experience; Katherine Porter, faculty experience manager; and Joann Kozyrev, VP design and development, Western Governors University

"At the end of the day, we have to remember the human element associated with any response. It's not just about setting up assignments online — we must be checking in with students to make sure they are OK and their needs are being met. Their mental well-being and physical health are first and foremost. We must remember this, just as we would in the classroom, as we shift to the online experience." —John Baker, CEO, D2L

"Coronavirus will force schools to use online education in a meaningful way a lot sooner than they otherwise would have." —Shaan Patel, founder of Prep Expert

"It's fantastic that education institutions across the country and globally are turning to digital learning during this critical time — and the ability to do so in such a rapid timeframe speaks to the capability of IT staff and the adaptability of teachers, staff and students. —Brandon Shopp, vice president for product strategy, SolarWinds

"For the IT people, reach out and seek help if/when you need it. Many of you have been asking for a more strategic role and authority for deeper investment in your digital infrastructure for years; however, now is not the time to push this agenda. Now is the time to focus and prioritize on what is needed the most, which is how best to keep your institution operational during this pandemic.

"For faculty, open your mind to technology and embrace it. It's your vehicle to teaching students now with no other option. Understand that your IT department is overloaded and under a large amount of stress. Be open to new ideas and to learning new methods of teaching using an online platform. Most important of all, try it out and then improve. Don't expect everything to be perfect." —Wayne Bovier, founder and CEO at Higher Digital

comments powered by Disqus