The 2020 coronavirus pandemic instantly changed the ways we teach and the ways students learn. Except for those of us who already were teaching fully online courses, this was hugely disruptive. In my case, I was teaching a Master's-level fully online course for students at Daemen College, Buffalo, NY, and three fully seated undergraduate courses for University of North Carolina Asheville (UNC Asheville).
The online students had established their pace and were doing fine before Daemen College halted all seated classes. Nevertheless, I realized that some of those students would have had seated classes abruptly converted to online. I had to think about how this might affect them - not to mention how the stress, economic impact, and fear, caused by the pandemic was affecting their lives. The semester is ongoing, and the students seem to be OK. The end-of-semester student evaluations of my teaching will give me some ideas for improvement. We might have to teach fully online during the fall 2020 semester, and the feedback can help me adjust my methods to improve the students' learning experiences.
The fully seated students in my three UNC Asheville courses had the biggest shock - the shock millions of students in the U.S.A. and other countries experienced when their school shut the classrooms (and dormitories) and everything went virtual. Because I use team-based project-based-learning methods, the students were able to continue working in teams using whatever collaboration methods (i.e., Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime, etc.) worked for them. I meet with these students weekly in 20-30 live online meetings. After a full-class live session, we break into team groups on Zoom and I meet with each group. To my surprise, I am having more direct interaction with my students in these courses than I had before we moved to online education. They are comfortable talking one-on-one and in small groups online - much more than in the classroom.
This is the time for us as educators to think seriously about how we teach and how students learn. The World Economic Forum article provides ideas to start our reflection.
#daemencollege #uncasheville #highereducation #experientiallearning #onlinelearning #pedagogy
Photo by Paul McAfee @ UNC Asheville with the students and a guest speaker, 2020.