As educators are encouraged to move on-campus courses to online formats, new emergency resources and guides are becoming available. While online education tools have been available for some time, designing an online course on the fly is similar to the mad rush for toilet paper during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Questions that arise include: is it necessary? Is it needed? Are there others who need those resources?
Lessons from Winter Wonderland - Being Prepared
Being from the Winter Wonderland of Wisconsin originally, winter preparedness is a standard. Before the first snowfall, locals get essential winter supplies to last 2 weeks - until spring due to freezing temperatures, snow, ice conditions, and/or flu season.
When the first Wisconsin blizzard of the season hits, prepared locals stay home warm by the fire, drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book. For those who don't prepare, the blizzard is chaotic and stressful, similar to those in a mad rush for essentials during emergencies.
Needless to say, I prepare for winter before early December as habit. During college years, I found this to be useful as during the semester I worked less in order to focus on classes; thus I emptied my winter supply annually by summer.
The current on-campus situation across the globe is two-fold:
One Size Does NOT Fit All
Let's NOT push all lecturers to live stream their courses or host a web lecture/webinar.
Why? Not every lecturer is ready to host a webinar, show slides/share their screen, respond to chat messages while talking, and record the session. Additionally, their institution may have limited licenses or the tool may have limited seats for participants (their students).
When an instructor asks about synchronous options for remote teaching, it's best to have an open conversation and help them explore needs, resources, and their actual situation to better assist their course and particularly their new remote learners.
A lecturer needs time to evaluate solutions their institution supports and the policies in place around the tools (for example: GDPR) in addition to considering their personal situation:
Across the globe, institutions are assisting their faculty to create a Plan B. Technische Universiteit Delft (TU Delft) created a Remote Teaching and Learning: Quick Guide for the on-campus lecturers shifting to remote teaching. This is meant for TU Delft specific, but other institutions could benefit from this guide, particularly if they use BrightSpace. Since the guide is an Open Educational Resource (OER), any institution is welcome to modify to fit their institutional situation. Besides tools, the guide provides links to factsheets for video (how to guides) and other helpful links to other articles and other institutional remote guides.
As Willem van Valkenburg, the Executive Director of the Extension School at the TU Delft, describes in his blog post on Remote Teaching and Learning, the TU Delft faculty have support beyond a guide and possible Teaching Assistants. They have Learning Technology Support Officers, Instructional Designers, Learning Developers, coordinators, and student assistants.
Building the Basics - in the future
In the future, more on-campus faculty will likely be eager to take teacher trainings, such as "Build the Basics" and "Plan B: Preparing for Emergency Remote Teaching". Shifting a fully on-campus course online is not easy, but if prepared with a backup plan, there is less chaos and panic. This is different than the TU Delft online course development process which is an excellent resource to building a complete online course in a reasonable timeframe.
As with every emergency situation, we have the opportunity to create Plan B and better prepare for next time rather than diving for the last toilet paper or forcing all learners to attend a live stream of a lecture.
You make many excellent points - especially the acknowledgement that lecturers will need to consider what they feel comfortable/ capable of doing, and that also needs to fit with their course design.
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I'm a Learning Developer living in the Netherlands since 2018, with American and Luxembourgish nationality. This blog is dedicated to online education and originated with my take on various tools.
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