A Time to Be Thankful

Nov 19, 2020

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, it is important to take time to reflect upon the collective herculean efforts secondary and postsecondary educational institutions made in order to ensure their respective learners had few disruptions to their education during this challenging pandemic. The sharp pivot to remote instruction has led to a “new abnormal” in education. Prior to this period, the majority of K–12 education was offered in a traditional classroom (with the exception of virtual K–12 charter schools). Higher-education faculty could choose between on-campus and digital teaching options while balancing their service and scholarship commitments.

Elementary and secondary educators and college and university faculty should be thanked for their commitment to leveraging digital teaching strategies in their courses this year. Faculty development provided by instructional designers and trainers was key. Six Red Marbles is honored to offer free access to the self-paced Faculty Success modules that provide an overview of good practices in online course design and facilitation. Our team also worked with university partners via in-depth conversations with their faculty about how best to offer students engaging digital instruction.

A student at home, wearing a mask, is looking at a teacher on screen

Students should be thanked for the abundance of courage they are showing as they engage in remote instruction with their teachers. As previously mentioned, many teachers needed professional development to pivot to remote instruction in the spring. Students have had to endure course experiences that have varied in their quality as faculty have become more confident in their teaching approaches. The news has reminded us that students face other challenges, such as resource insecurities that include a lack of stability in quiet places to access their courses and study, lack of a stable internet connection, and a not-always-perfect balance for adult students attempting to juggle school with their family and work lives—work lives that are also likely impacted by the pandemic.

As we finalize our Thanksgiving plans, let’s remember to be grateful for the collective efforts that have been made by faculty, students, and administrative and support staff to ensure there are as few disruptions as possible in how our students learn. Let us also be thankful for the opportunity we now have to explore how digital teaching and learning can be improved upon with more planning, reflection, and evaluation of our efforts so that our students can have even greater learning experiences into 2021 and beyond.

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