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Survey: Emergency Move Online Forced More than Half of Faculty to Learn New Teaching Methods

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly all higher education institutions (90 percent) in a recent survey used some form of emergency distance education to complete the Spring 2020 term. And 56 percent of faculty who moved courses online were using teaching methods they had never used before. That's according to "Digital Learning Pulse Survey: Immediate Priorities," a study conducted by Bay View Analytics (formerly known as the Babson Survey Research Group), which surveyed 826 higher education faculty and administrators across 641 institutions within the United States.

Even experienced online instructors reported navigating unfamiliar territory: Fifty-one percent of those respondents said they were using new teaching methods in their courses.

Other findings included:

  • 97 percent of institutions moving classes online had to call on faculty with no previous online teaching experience.
  • 50 percent of institutions had at least some faculty with online teaching experience.
  • 48 percent of faculty who moved courses online reduced the quantity of work they expected from students, and 32 percent lowered their expectations for the quality of student work.

"It's worth noting that, even as faculty identified a variety of support options that would be helpful during this challenging time, their most pressing concern is for their students," said Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics, in a statement. "When asked what assistance would be most helpful, 57 percent identified additional support for their newly online students — rating it more important than support for themselves."

The survey was conducted in partnership with the Online Learning Consortium, WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, University Professional and Continuing Education Association, Canadian Digital Learning Research Association and Every Learner Everywhere, with support from Cengage and Inside Higher Ed. For more information, visit

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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