Here’s something that’s true: Online learning is nothing new. Flavors of online college degrees came into play as early as the 1980s, with the 1990s and early 2000s being a boom period for online education.
But here’s another thing that’s also true: Online learning has often been looked at as a nice-to-have option, not a mission-critical model to ensure continuity of education. That changed when COVID-19 forced campuses to shut down and transition to remote learning operations with little to no notice. While the disruption to the business-as-usual model illuminated a number of logistical challenges, one silver lining is that it forced a shift in attitude among many faculty, administrators and students about the value of e-learning.
“I suspect that one of the biggest impacts … will be on the culture of higher education and its ability and willingness to collaborate across the many areas and to become more agile at making change because we’ve all changed extraordinarily rapidly,” said Susan Grajek, vice president for communities and research at EDUCAUSE, in an interview with EdScoop.
We took to Twitter to see how this shift was playing out in real life with faculty. Many instructors showed an impressive aptitude for rising to the occasion and an equally impressive creative approach to adapting to their new normal.
Interested in sharing how you or your university have adapted to the realities of remote learning? Tweet us @EdTech_HigherEd.
A Moment of Hope
As a teaching associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Viji Sathy understands having the right mindset can help when dealing with adversity. She shared her setup at home as she embarked on her journey to lead instruction with remote learning.
And the #OnlineTeaching #onlinelearning commences today. We didn’t sign up for this, and neither did they, but there’s something so hopeful about continuing to teach and learn when everything else feels like it’s coming to a screeching halt. #COVID19 #highered #playroomdecor pic.twitter.com/85sgqoIIPh
— ＶＩＪＩ ＳＡＴＨＹ (@vijisathy) March 23, 2020
Ready to Conquer E-Learning
While professors are used to lecturing their students, they're not necessarily used to setting up their own makeshift broadcast studios. Dr. Muqtedar Khan, professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware, fared well as he figured out the right lighting for his online instruction.
From study to studio! One light installed. After today’s meetings I will figure out where the other light should go and will I need more. Online teaching, the Khan will treat you the way Genghis treated the world. #COVID19 #onlinelearning #OnlineTeaching @ErinCassese pic.twitter.com/m1PMjf2pVH
— Dr. Muqtedar Khan (@MuqtedarKhan) March 19, 2020
A Virtual Change of Scenery
One of the cool perks of Zoom is its ability to create virtual backgrounds and filter effects. Jessica Tierney, associate professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona, decided to bring her geology instruction live for her remote learning students with a relevant background of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming.
Digital lecturing take 2 🎬Improvement! Still so hard to talk to a tiny camera! But thanks to zoom's virtual background feature I can put relevant geology behind me (shown here: the Bighorn basin, for a lecture on the PETM) #OnlineTeaching #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/2l29rFOvrt
— Jessica Tierney (@leafwax) March 17, 2020
A Funky Flare for Learning
While it's important for professors and teaching assistants to be mindful of their surroundings before jumping on camera with students, that doesn't mean you can't show signs of your personality. Jonathan Moore, associate professor of cinema and digital media at Vanguard University of Southern California, took pride in showing his "funky" garage, where he went live for his e-learning classes.
Well, I just finished up my first-ever online class. I wonder what the students thought about my funky garage? Hmmm... But it went well and I am pleased. #OnlineTeaching #onlinelearning #Quarantine pic.twitter.com/6FViEKNnlV
— Jonathan Moore (@therealjomo33) March 30, 2020