The Impact of COVID-19 on Remote Learning

Mar 20, 2020

Because of COVID-19, most professors and students suddenly find themselves forced to use technology as they teach and learn. SRM’s Vice President of Learning Strategy, Kelvin Bentley, was recently on a panel of experts at Inside Higher Ed that explored whether that will help or hurt attitudes about online education.

It has been interesting reading about the many colleges and universities that have decided to shift on-campus instruction to a remote teaching model. There are on-campus faculty who are not the best teachers, and this fact will be more salient as such faculty are required to use technology quickly to meet their respective institutions’ decisions to use technology-enhanced teaching as a form of social distancing.

There is always a chance that some faculty who have been resistant to using technology to facilitate their teaching will be more likely to embrace their newer teaching practices over time. This will be a more likely outcome if colleges and universities are vigilant in helping faculty learn about and actively use the instructional technology tools available to help students be successful in their courses. It will be important for institutions to encourage students to share their feedback weekly about the learning experiences their instructors are shaping for them using technology. When faculty can put their teaching egos aside and use negative student feedback to improve their remote teaching practices, students will benefit and hopefully faculty will, too, because they will learn how best to meet the learning needs of their students.

Besides faculty adapting their style of teaching, institutions will need to have clear plans about how they will provide certain services to students. Such services include advising, proctoring, tutoring. Fully online versions of such services might exist to support current online students, but institutions will have to ensure that all students have access. This can be challenging to achieve, given some online services such as proctoring and tutoring are based upon actual student use, which can overwhelm some school budgets that are not already inclusive of such services across all students.

It will be important for institutions to carefully evaluate their remote teaching strategies across all courses after the COVID-19 crisis subsides. Institutions will need to use postmortem feedback from both their students and faculty to improve their contingency plans and how they prepare students and faculty to engage in remote learning and teaching, respectively, when institutions have to close due to a crisis. It will also be important for institutions to update their existing plans yearly and discuss how such plans can be improved upon based upon available research on how best to use technology to positively impact student learning.

Read the full piece at Inside Higher Ed.

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