I have learned online, worked remotely, and supported online educational technologies for many years. For me, the switch to fully online teaching and learning because of covid-19 was smooth – nothing was really new. That is to say, I am one of the lucky ones….or am I?
Yes, I have been helping faculty with online components of their courses for years. But I am now overcome with mixed feelings as my responsibility as a faculty support has moved to an entirely new level. I have never considered my job as high-stakes. Now, with online final exams administered to thousands of students, one incorrect piece of advice, information, or even an email typo might have huge ramifications!
The first few days of final exams went on well (phew!). I can finally exhale and reflect on what is happening and what is yet coming. Will online learning going remain essential post covid-19? Will the pandemic expedite innovation in online learning that will benefit education after the situation is over?
One silver lining with what is happening is that slow-to-change educational institutions will have to (rapidly) learn how to do online teaching and learning. Instructors will want to know how to facilitate online active learning, create alternative assessments methods, host virtual lectures, etc. As faculty support, we need to step up and provide both pedagogical and technical support, as poorly designed online learning activities can have adverse effects.
It is a difficult situation for everyone. Faculty need to be comfortable with technology. They have to juggle multiple identities simultaneously, and at the same time focus on their own well-being, and the well-being of their students and loved ones. Online teaching becomes not only about technical how-tos and best practices. It also becomes about listening to students’ voices and helping them stay motivated and to continue learning during these challenging times.