Coming Together in Times of Crisis: Online Teaching and COVID-19
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, there is no question. We have had to forge new methods of coping with stress, responding to crisis and developing new work/life balances. These issues have been compounded for K-12 and college instructors as state and federal agencies announced school closures over the past weeks due to the rapid spread of the virus. This sudden need for online instruction has been an uneasy transition for “brick-and-mortar” professors and thrust many into a last-minute crash course in online teaching and learning (Kronk, 2020c). I want those who are feeling this right now to know that there are people here to help you. A community of online experts and practitioners from around the world have begun to mobilized to offer tips, best practices, and advice to those new to online teaching during these trying times (e.g., #instructionalcontinuity). In this post, I hope to s
hare a few of my resources to get you started on the path to creating an engaging online classroom (see list below).
As we all know, the digital age has fundamentally transformed many facets of the human experience by reshaping many aspects of how we interact. From Twitter to Facebook, various generations of people have seen our communication habits drastically change. Meaning, we are learning and acquiring knowledge differently, and have been for decades. Yet despite these changes, much of our learning experiences have remained the same (e.g., traditional brick and mortar lectures). Given the sudden urgency to move online resulting from COVID-19, it is even more imperative that we recognize the many innovations that already exist. If we quickly adopt effective virtual learning tools and evidence-based remote teaching methods, we can make online learning just as engaging (if not more) than a traditional classroom.
As I mentioned in my recent podcast titled “Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides,” one of the main issues in Higher Education today is that it has not kept up with (or been quick to adapt to) the technological revolution happening around us (Rogers, 2020). This sudden transition online in the COVID-19 era has exposed this institutional lag and further compounded many fears and stressors to those new to online teaching (Rogers, 2014; Albright, 2005; Stacey, 2012). Though many of these fears stem from a general lack of knowledge, the feelings are real and impacting our transitions (Hylén, 2006).
Not to worry, there are many proven resources that academics use to effectively teach online. In a recent article with eInsideLearning, I shared a tutorial web series I co-developed of colleagues comprised of online tutorials for all skill levels (Kronk, 2020a). This series offers training from entry-level tools like “How to make a presentation using PowerPoint,” to more complex topics like methods for developing effective videos (YouTube, Vimeo), editing and production tools (Screencastomatic and Kaltura), and how to develop assignments with social media apps (Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook).
It is important to note that when shifting from the physical to the virtual classroom, often the barometer of its effectiveness is based upon the level of classroom engagement and whether or not the students gained a positive learning experience. Meaning when we adopt online tools, they should be for a purpose (i.e., connected to both course and learning outcomes). Much like assessing live physical classroom interaction, online learning is often measured through student queries or student performance. Students are best served with a mixture of media, blended learning tools, interactive experiences, gamification, virtual reality, and other innovative opportunities (Yilmaz, 2015; O’Dowd, 2016). Though not all of these must be immediately adopted to engage students for online learning to be effective. Be selective, choose tools you are comfortable with and ask experts for advice if you have questions.
Adopting assessments online is also critical. I would encourage faculty to develop their questions and modify assignments that they have been using for a long time (remember, students may be tech-savvy and know how to find common assignments online). Ask your students if they think the tool you are using is effective. If not, be willing to let it go and find another one. As research indicates, success does not depend on the mode of delivery, but more on preparation, design, and facilitation of the educational content (Yasmoto 2006; Koenig 2010; Martin & Parker, 2014).
As I said before, tons of models exist in online learning and may experts are willing to help. You can reach out to any of us and we would be more than willing to explain how to adopt online tools. I have compiled a list of my resources to get you started (see below), as well as providing you an additional list comprised by the State University of New York (SUNY).
Be safe and well.
Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers
Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, SUNY Empire State College
Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow, Rockefeller Institute of Government
Faculty Web Site | Twitter| Rockefeller Institute/Buffalo Project
Join Dr. Rhianna Rogers for a SUNY Remote Teaching Clinic webinar on Best Practices in Remote Instruction (Academic Honesty), March 27th (1PM) and March 30th (6PM).
View previously recorded webinar on Creating a Sense of Community Online on the SUNY Remote Teaching Clinic playlist.
Albright, P. (2005, October). Final forum report. In International Institute for Educational Planning. Internet Discussion Forum. Open Educational Resources Open Content for Higher Education (Vol. 24).
Bates, A. (1995). Technology, Open Learning and Distance Education. London: Routledge.
Hylén, J. (2006). Open educational resources: Opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of open education, 4963.
Kronk, H. (2020a, March 16). Coronavirus: These Online Learning Providers Are Offering their
Resources for Free. Retrieved from: https://news.elearninginside.com/coronavirus-these-online-learning-providers-are-offering-their-resources-for-free/
Kronk, H. (2020a, March 16). COVID-19: Useful Tech and Resources for Remote Learning
Retrieved from: https://news.elearninginside.com/covid-19-useful-tech-and-resources-for-remote-learning/
Kronk, H. (2020a, March 18). COVID-19 School Closures: What Are Some Unknown Unknowns
Retrieved from: https://news.elearninginside.com/covid-19-school-closures-what-are-some-unknown-unknowns/
Kronk, H. (2020b, March 18). Coronavirus: Publishers Open Digital Access to Students
O’Dowd, R. (2016). Emerging Trends and New Directions in Telecollaborative Learning. CalicoJournal, 33(3), 291-310.
Rogers, R. (2014). Using Open Resources to Your Advantage: How to Effectively Incorporate OERs into
College Assignments. ALL ABOUT MENTORING, 51.
Rogers, R. (2020). Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides. Policy Outsider Podcast – Rockefeller
Institute of Government. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/RockefellerInst/status/1237360184013598721?s=20
TOEP (2017). Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) Webinar Series. SUNY Empire State College.
Retrieved from: https://1838561.mediaspace.kaltura.com/channel/Tools+of+Engagement+Project+%28TOEP%29+Webinar+Series/40774531
Yasumoto, S. (2014). Teaching and Learning in the Digital Era: A Case Study of Vodei-Conference
Lectures from Japan to Australia. In International Conferences on 124Educational Technologies and Sustainability, Technology and Education.
Yilmaz, O. (2015). The Effects of “Live Virtual Classroom” on Students’ Achievement and Students’
Opinions about “Live Virtual Classroom” at Distance Education. TurkishOnline Journal Of Educational Technology, 14(1), 108-115.
R. ROGERS’ LIST OF BEST PRACTICES ARTICLES/RESOURCES & ONLINE TUTORIALS:
Mercer, J., Pisutova, K., & Rogers, R. (2018, March). From mystery to mastery: Creating & enhancing the ultimate virtual classroom experience. In 2018 COIL Conference Proceedings (pp. 112-124). Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/37310888/From_mystery_to_mastery_Creating_and_enhancing_the_ultimate_virtual_classroom_experience
Pisutova, K., Rogers, R. C., & Mercer, J. (2018, November). Engaging Students at a Distance: Advantages and Pitfalls of Video-Conference use in Teaching. In 2018 16th International Conference on Emerging eLearning Technologies and Applications (ICETA) (pp. 431-438). IEEE.
Rogers, R. (2014). Using Open Resources to Your Advantage: How to Effectively Incorporate OERs into
College Assignments. ALL ABOUT MENTORING, 51. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/7308246/Using_Open_Resources_to_Your_Advantage_How_to_Effectively_Incorporate_OERs_into_College_Assignments
Rogers, R. (2014). OPEN SUNY – COTE NOTE: OER Theory and Methods. SUNY- COTE Fellow Series. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/7868024/Open_SUNY_Center_for_Online_Teaching_Excellence_COTE_Speaker_Note_OER_Theory_and_Methods
Rogers. R. (2014). OPEN SUNY – COTE: OER Practical Applications. OPEN SUNY – COTE Fellow Series. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/7868035/Open_SUNY_Center_for_Online_Teaching_Excellence_COTE_Speaker_Note_OER_Practical_Applications
Pisutova, K., Rogers, R. C., & Mercer, J. (2018, November). Engaging Students at a Distance: Advantages and Pitfalls of Video-Conference use in Teaching Recording. In 2018 16th International Conference on Emerging eLearning Technologies and Applications (ICETA) (pp. 431-438). IEEE. Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/300585872
Rogers. R. (2014). OPEN SUNY – COTE: OER Theory and Methods. OPEN SUNY – COTE Fellow Series. Retrieved from: https://learn.esc.edu/media/SUNY+COTE+OER+Webinar+-+Theories+%26+Methods/1_o0kz71kc/62991901
Rogers. R. (2014). OPEN SUNY – COTE: OER Practical Applications. OPEN SUNY – COTE Fellow Series. Retrieved from: https://learn.esc.edu/media/SUNY+COTE+OER+Webinar+-+Examples/1_73xrnbn6
Rogers, R. (2015). SUNY Empire OER Tutorial Series: Engaging Students with Technology: Creating Engaging Course Resources – How to Develop OERs Using Screencastomatic: https://vimeo.com/129792731
Rogers, R. (2015). SUNY Empire OER Tutorial Series: Engaging Students with Technology: Creating Engaging Course Resources – How to Develop OERs Using Blogger: https://vimeo.com/132149870
Rogers, R. et. al (2017). SUNY Empire State College – Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) Webinar Series. SUNY Empire State College. Retrieved from: https://1838561.mediaspace.kaltura.com/channel/Tools+of+Engagement+Project+%28TOEP%29+Webinar+Series/40774531
Rogers, R. et. al (2017). SUNY COIL Webinar – Benefits of Virtual Exchange. SUNY COIL and Stevens Initiative. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bevc6DTYicA
Rogers, R. (2017). Zoom Breakout Room Tutorial. SUNY Empire International Programs. Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/264764136
Rogers, R. (2018). SUNY Effective Practice Award Showcase: Virtual Learning and OER Integration into Your Teaching. SUNY CIT Conference. Retrieved from:
Rogers, R. & Clemens, S. (2018). Using Zoom and Zoom Breakout Rooms to Engage Learners. Digital Day Conference 2018. Saratoga Springs. Retrieved from: https://learn.esc.edu/media/Using+Zoom+Breakout+Rooms+to+engage+with+students+-+Wednesday%2C+January+10%2C+2018+3.02.10+PM/1_47q34dnc/88359311
Rogers, R. (2019). SUNY Empire State College – Center for Mentoring, Learning, and Academic Innovation. How to Effectively Incorporate OERs into College-level Assignments. Retrieved from: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-kuapk-b99730?utm_campaign=u_share_ep&utm_medium=dlink&utm_source=u_share
Rogers, R. (2020). Online Learning to Bridge Cultural Divides. Policy Outsider Podcast – Rockefeller Institute of Government. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/RockefellerInst/status/1237360184013598721?s=20
Dr. Rhianna C. Rogers is an expert on cultural and ethnic studies, intercultural competencies and diversity education, cultural mediation, and virtual exchange programmatic development and implementation. Rogers is currently the inaugural Rockefeller Institute of Government-Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow in the Center for Law and Policy Solutions (2019-present) and was the college-wide Coordinator of Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Studies (2017-2019.) Rogers has won multiple awards for her innovative approach to teaching and learning, including, most recently, the 2019-2020 SUNY Empire Provost/Associate Dean Innovation Award, the 2018-2019 Explorations in Diversity & Academic Excellence Award (EDAE), the 2017-2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the 2015-2016 Best Peer Mentoring and Support, and the inaugural 2015 Open SUNY Online Effective Practice Award.
Rogers has been a part of a variety of SUNY-wide initiatives related to her expertise in online learning including consulting on multiple IITGs (Innovative Instruction Technology Grants), Lumina grants, participating as a Stevens Initiative – sponsored COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) Instructor as well as offering collegial support as a Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE) and Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) fellow in Open Educational Resources (OER) and online academic innovation.