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On-Demand Webinar: Considerations for an Uncertain Fall

On-Demand Webinar: Considerations for an Uncertain Fall: Ensuring Readiness for Faculty and Students

Stream It Now

With spring semesters complete and summer semesters primarily being held remotely, institutions across the nation are wondering what comes next. Facing an uncertain fall, how can higher education leaders ensure readiness for their faculty and students?

To help prepare, stream this insightful webinar, hosted by WCET in partnership with Wiley Education Services. A panel of experts, including leaders from Oregon State University, Northern Illinois University, and Wiley, discussed considerations institutions of higher learning should contemplate as they make decisions for their fall semesters.

Topics of Discussion

This in-depth conversation included the following and much more:

  • Insights from recent surveys of students regarding behaviors, trends, and key stressors
  • Strategies to enhance quality learning experiences while planning for flexibility
  • Answers to audience questions including issues related to hands-on activities and test proctoring

Stream the Webinar

Read Video Transcript

Megan:

Make sure that we’re recording here. Great. Welcome everybody. My name is Megan Raymond. I’m the director of programs and sponsorship here at WCET. We have a wonderful group of presenters today to talk about some considerations for what we know to be an uncertain fall, ensuring readiness for faculty as well as students. As we go through today, if you have any questions, enter them into the Q&A, and we’ll also be adding links, including links to the PowerPoint presentation into the chat box and feel free to share other resources.

Megan:

If you have any great tips, please put them into the chat box, that kind of thing. We will have pretty active Twitter backchannel I would anticipate. The hashtag is WCET webcast. You can also post your questions there. We’ll be watching Twitter and the Q&A here. As we move through today, we’ll do brief introductions. We’ll talk about what we’ve learned from our experiences this far. How do we develop quality experiences and plan for adaptability and look at faculty and student support. Then we’ll move to the Q&A. Again, if you have any questions, enter them into the question and answer box. We’ll be monitoring that.

Megan:

We’ll hold questions until the end of the discussion portion and the presentation and then we’ll be sure to get to your questions. If we don’t get to all of the questions, we’ll be sure to pull those out and share them with our presenters and then get answers back to you. Our moderator today is a good friend and steering committee member for WCET, Shannon Riggs, who’s the Executive Director of Academic Programs and Learning Innovation at the Oregon State University Ecampus. Shannon, go ahead and introduce yourself.

Shannon Riggs:

Hello. It’s so nice to be here today. I’m really excited. As with many of you, I’ve been involved in so many conversations about COVID-19 and remote teaching and online teaching and preparing for fall and really excited to be part of this conversation today. Today’s webinar is really about the COVID-19 and its impacts on the education space. But more specifically, what we’ll focus on today is how we in higher ed are working to ensure readiness for fall when we don’t really know what fall will bring at this point.

Shannon Riggs:

Fortunately, we have a panel of experts with us today and all of you and we’re ready for some good conversation. Joining us today are Christina Anderson, David Capranos, and Jason Rhode. I will now ask them each to introduce themselves, their role and their organization. And our opening question, if you were not working in higher education today, what would… what other career might you be in? Christina, let’s start with you.

Christina Anderson:

Great. Hi everyone. I’m happy to be here today. My role is director of learner experience, which means that my team at Wiley Ed Services works closely with faculty and designing and developing their online courses. We support over hundreds of faculty a year in this endeavor. In case you’re not familiar with our division of Wiley, Wiley Ed Services supports over 60 University partners and over 800 online degree programs on behalf of those partners.

Christina Anderson:

As for my background, I’ve worked in online learning for almost 20 years now. And thanks to COVID, I think finally all my friends and family know what online learning is, what I do for a living. I think if I were not in education, I might be an architect. Though I think that architects [inaudible 00:03:48] function in a way that is not that dissimilar from learning design.

David Capranos:

Hi, I’m David Capranos. I’m Director of Market Strategy and Research. We’re essentially a decision support team within the business. We help our institutional partners and our company decide where to invest particularly around online learning, but all types of learning. I’ve been with Wiley for about 10 years. If I was doing something other than higher education, it would probably be in economics. I’d probably still be doing similar sorts of work just for another industry.

Jason Rhode:

Hi everyone. I’m Jason Rhode. I’m Executive Director of Extended Learning at Northern Illinois University. In my role, I serve as chief online officer for the University. I also oversee our center for innovative teaching and learning. I’m a lot like the shop and staff, that Christina oversees directly in Wiley. I’ve got a much smaller team that supports our faculty on our campus. I’m also faculty in our College of Education in our department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment.

Jason Rhode:

If I were to be doing something other than… I’ve been in higher ed now almost 20 years as well. I’d probably say a wilderness guy. I love the outdoors, but thinking about just the unknowns and being able to traverse those. I think certainly in this environment, we’re doing the same thing in our respective industries.

Shannon Riggs:

Great. Thank you so much. It’s just wonderful to have you all here with us today. What I’d like to cover today with our panelists, are three considerations as we prepare for fall and higher ed. First, what have we learned this spring from our move to remote learning environments? Second, how to plan and develop the best quality learning experiences while preparing to be adaptable. And third, conceptualizing what supports for students and faculty look like when we’re planning flexibly.

Shannon Riggs:

Let’s start with that first consideration which is lessons from this spring. Our first question, we saw a major shift from campus based learning to remote learning environments this past spring. But what are some of the key differences between these remote or virtual learning environments and traditional online learning? And I had just have to share that I love being able to say traditional online learning. That gives me a thrill like you wouldn’t believe. Christina, can we start with you?

Christina Anderson:

Yeah. I have a lot to say about this. I’ll try to just highlight the major differences, but I share your sentiment, Shannon. At first I can say, I don’t think that we can say there was a singular approach to remote learning of the spring, right? Because everyone was just doing the best they could to get online quickly. In many cases though, we did see a heavy reliance on virtual synchronous sessions, like Zoom classes, and this is different than what we do when we have time to plan for courses online specifically. When we have time to plan and we’re designing for online, we often talk about transforming the residential course and not just transferring it to the LMS.

Christina Anderson:

Let’s take advantage of the online modality, but it really also helps us recognize the constraints that our online students face. Whether that’s internet access or obligations like work and caregiving, there can be a lot of obstacles to learning online. And so a couple of ways we try to lower these barriers include giving students flexibility, and when they participate in their online learning and giving them choices when possible.

Christina Anderson:

Then we also know we have to use different strategies to be effective online and achieve the same outcomes. Just to touch on a couple of these, I think a big difference is with connection. In traditional online courses, we don’t have the luxury of forging that personal relationship face to face. We have to create those opportunities for students to connect with each other and for faculty to have a meaningful and intentional presence in the course.

Christina Anderson:

Then finally we take a lot of care with how we organize and deliver the content for learning. Because we know that student engagement in lecture videos drop after a minute so, we’re thoughtful about how we can chunk content and use different methods of delivery. That we can use techniques like storytelling to support retention, and then also how we can create opportunities for active learning. I think all of these things can be really hard to replicate online when you don’t have the time to plan, when you’re in a remote emergency situation.

Shannon Riggs:

Great. Jason or David, would you like to add anything to that?

David Capranos:

No. I think you nailed it. We actually did a survey of face-to-face students and you kind of asked questions around, what types of learning experiences they’re going through right now. And it was really interesting to see their reaction. Mirrors a lot of what Christina had to say.

Shannon Riggs:

Great. Well, while we’re still trying to understand the full impact that the shift to remote learning has had on students, can you tell us a little more about the early feedback or insights we’ve gathered from students who were impacted this way?

David Capranos:

Yeah. Like I said, we partnered with I think half dozen universities across the country to ask their face-to-face students. They’re kind of typical ground students and professors that had to move quickly into this emergency remote sort of teaching situation. How they reacted and how they responded to it. And we’ve got some really interesting data. The headline is that 94% of these students said they want to come back in the fall, which I know there was this… We often joke this is the pandemic that launched a thousand student surveys because there’s so many out there right now. And a lot of the early ones said, 20% of the students aren’t going to come back, 25% of students aren’t going to come back.

David Capranos:

And it really doesn’t seem like that’s going to be the case right now, but there still are a pretty significant amount of students that are concerned about coming back. And a lot of their concerns around are not financial. We were surprised. They were around online learning. They were about kind of online learning and the hybrid learning that you might get in the fall and what that’s going to look like for them? It was really interesting because we were able to survey, I think it was about 4,000 students and about 500 faculty members. And there was a lot of things that they agreed upon. Generally speaking, the things they really agreed upon was how important the human element was.

David Capranos:

So, one of them really liked some of that live video, the zoom session type work, where you’re really interacting with some of the things that mimic sort of human element that we would get on campus unsurprisingly, right? Like phone calls and stuff like that. Prerecorded video a lot less and Christina mentioned that, that very sort of this drop-off when you just set up a steady cam and record yourself lecturing. I don’t think any of us can really sit through that. You need that sort of interaction part.

David Capranos:

Where we saw a lot of disagreement, where the faculty thought they were doing a really great job, but the students maybe didn’t even enjoy things so much was around digital reading material, and discussion boards interestingly. And this one was particularly interesting for me because a lot of the data that we have from our traditional online learners, is they love discussion boards. They love that opportunity to interact with each other. They really like that human element, but there’s something about these face-to-face students that really didn’t like the way that some of that was managed. Maybe there’s some opportunities to make that better.

David Capranos:

The last thing that I’ll say is that I think it was something like two thirds of our students said, they spent a lot more time in these emergency remote classes than they would have been a traditional class. So, we’re doing something that’s really kind of burdensome to these students. And I think there’s a real concern there. Something that we have to be aware of, in fact, a lot of the students that reported that they were dissatisfied with this education, or really felt that they weren’t happy with the education, almost all of those students reported that they spend much more time than they would have in a typical semester.

David Capranos:

So, there’s definitely something there about the time commitment that we should be communicating to students that, we’re working on that for the fall and maybe these aren’t going to be as burdensome as they were in the spring.

Shannon Riggs:

Are there any preferences noted about the different tools that were used? Whether it’s email or discussion boards or zoom. Was there a certain way that those were used that students preferred or didn’t prefer?

David Capranos:

Yeah. Generally, students really enjoyed one-on-one contact. There was a lot of phone call that sort of thing. Just sort of traditional conversation with something that was really popular, and then zoom and other web conferencing type things were probably also really reported as being really successful for students. They really like to interact with each other. Which is interesting because when we think about the more traditional online learner, those synchronous elements, those elements where you have to be on from four to five o’clock on a Wednesday, might just not be realistic for a lot of the more traditional adult learner. So, it’s an interesting sort of paradox that we’ve got there. That they liked the interaction, they like that human element, but how do you do that within people’s schedules. I think it’s going to be where part of the challenge lies.

Shannon Riggs:

I know it’s still early days and much remains to be seen and things can be changed. But I think the big question on many people’s minds are our students planning on continuing in the fall. Will they be back on campus? What is your crystal ball? Tell us.

David Capranos:

They’ll be back eventually. It’s something that we can say confidently that at some point in the future, they’ll be back. I think what we’re going to see is a lot of hybrid type stuff early days. I think it will be a lot of choice oriented. My guess is that it’ll be, you can attend remotely if you want. You can come to campus if you want as well. I think one of the things that we heard from a lot of students is that they’re really concerned about the lack of, sort of the campus experience element. Are there going to be football games? Are there going to be Greek Life and some of these other things they’re likely to see real restrictions. And so I think that’ll be a factor for a lot of, particularly undergraduate students on whether or not coming to campus makes sense for them.

Shannon Riggs:

Well, we’re certainly aware of the major impacts to students, but I don’t think we can ignore the impact that this transition to remote has had on the faculty. Many of whom have had limited or no experience outside of teaching in a physical classroom setting. What were some of the biggest challenges to navigate for faculty and have we seen any major successes?

Jason Rhode:

Great question. I think obviously at our institutions, we first and foremost, we’re thinking about our students and committed to our students. But our faculty encountered many of those same challenges that our students had as we were making that quick pivot. If you think about many of us here on the call, it’s children with virtual schooling that you’re trying to manage at home. Just the dynamic of working at home, trying to access technology and share the technology with other family members who are doing the same. So, even those who had that access had challenges within that access.

Jason Rhode:

I think despite these challenges at our institutions, we’ve just seen faculty rise to the occasion and it’s been really inspiring. I’m sure those of you participating today, you’ve had conversations, you’ve heard anecdotes from your faculty. I know, we’ve heard it from our faculty at our institution. How they were creative and adapting their practices on such short notice. And often what we saw and I think Christina, you mentioned this earlier. That faculty, many of them started looking at just synchronous tools and solutions that could replace what they were doing in the classroom. It seemed like the easiest proxy for what they were already doing.

Jason Rhode:

We saw a huge spike during the first several weeks when we had made that pivot to using synchronous meeting tools. It was on the order of magnitude of around 40 times what normal usage was. And then what we saw as usage of those tools, it started to plateau a bit. And we anecdotally in conversation with faculty, it seems like the faculty started looking at some other asynchronous methods that provided that added flexibility that David, I think you mentioned. And it served both the faculty and the students right to provide that flexibility there.

Jason Rhode:

Another thing that we saw with faculty is that by and large over the spring, they kept using technology tools they were already familiar with and comfortable with. For faculty who, if they weren’t using asynchronous tool, most did investigate one of those and at least try that. But what we’ve… we’ve tried to just encourage faculty during the spring, use what’s comfortable. What they’re able to use on such short notice. And I think what encouraged that really was the fact that our entire campus, I think is all of our campuses were just plunged into this remote collaboration and working environment.

Jason Rhode:

And it lowered the barriers for a lot of folks who maybe would have been concerned about having an all perfect the first time. I think there was a lot of grace and people getting in and trying it. I mean, across higher ed, I think everyone will agree that we’ve made some very drastic shifts in our ways of working, how we communicate, how we collaborate. This is going to forever change how we operate. We’re looking now at what are those lessons learned and how can we continue to embrace those good things, those good steps forward that we took into the future.

Shannon Riggs:

Great. Christina, do you have anything to add from maybe the academic services perspective?

Christina Anderson:

Yeah. I think Jason hit most of it on the head. We felt a lot of willingness to try new things and a lot of creativity and collaboration that I think for online learning going forward, will lead to a lot of innovative experiences for students. And I think for those that have been online already, one of the silver lining because of all of this, if you can count it as a success is just that it seems to be elevating the discussion of quality in online learning, right. And so quality hopefully will not be measured by the modality or the format that you’re in, but really the planning you put into your course, and how you teach the course in whichever format it is.

Shannon Riggs:

Well, that’s just a great transition to our next consideration. If we can shift to that middle area there on the screen. Planning for the best quality teaching and learning experiences as we’re preparing to be adoptable, that’s a challenge for sure. How do you think the experiences of spring and summer will shape the expectations for fall for both the students and the faculty?

David Capranos:

Yes. I’ll take that one and again, relying heavily on survey data, we monitor the sort of online student and their evolving attitude. Pretty regularly, we do a lot of surveys throughout the year. And the one thing that’s really consistent with students tell us that flexibility sort of their primary concern. They want to have a flexible environment. They want to be able to adapt to those home pressures that we were just talking about. Where in different scheduling and workload and things like that. But they want to balance that with really getting a lot of this human element.

David Capranos:

I think that Jason, you just mentioned that sort of fatigue burnout that happened with zoom calls where it’s in the early days, we all were jumping on these zoom calls. But I think at a certain point you get enough is enough, right? And we’ve got to think about some alternatives. I think we’re really going to have to balance how we communicate to students that we’ve got the flexibility that they need but we’re still going to be able to sort of engage them in these human ways. And some of that is going to be some of the tools that Christina mentioned. Like on sort of shorter video or more engaging exercises or using different types of sort of tools and techniques out there.

David Capranos:

I think that the communication that what you experienced in the spring is not necessarily what you’re going to experience in the fall, really letting students know, hey, we hear you on… That was our emergency response and we did the best we could, and sort of acknowledging that. I think is going to be something that’s going to be really important as well. That we hear your concerns on the time element or on the interpersonal connection element, and then here’s the ways that we’re addressing it. Have you seen that clearly the students, I think it’s going to be important on whether or not they return.

Christina Anderson:

David, I would add, not just for students, but for faculty. A lot of faculty, had not a great experience in the spring and so how can we support them differently? And support the idea that the way that online was in the spring, isn’t the only way, but it can be, or should be. And your point earlier too, I think students… There will be a lot more emphasis and kind of matching the rigor of the residential experience and on that connection and the human element. So, how can we create ways to have those rich dialogues and discourse that just happen more organically face to face?

Jason Rhode:

Well, I love that comment you made David about flexible. We’re also throwing in the word resilience. Thinking about course design that can happen in any mode, right. And so if things change again come fall that we’ve been purposeful and thinking through how that’s designed. That would be my encouragement to all institutions, is to really look at right those experts that you have, who are there supporting your faculty already and empower them to have these conversations.

Jason Rhode:

There’s an openness and a willingness right now across higher ed and within our institutions, I think to embrace some of these new approaches that maybe we haven’t seen in quite a while. And it’s a great opportunity for us. Another silver lining, right, is to look at how can we make, have more robust types of course designs that can withstand and can change as we might need to pivot that mode of delivery.

Shannon Riggs:

Thank you. Well, what are some strategies for planning for that flexibility? Do you think that we’ll see a mix of schools choosing to go online, return to campus fully, or some kind of blended modality? What do you expect?

David Capranos:

I think a lot of schools already have this stuff in place, right? I think a lot of schools have already worked to have that assisted platform where maybe you’re submitting your grades online or special order, things like that. I think for a lot of schools, it’s there… a certain class of school is already pretty innovative and already has pretty significant investment where this is sort of our architectures in place for them. What I’m concerned about is the schools that are going to be a little bit smaller and we haven’t really thought about some of these things in the past.

David Capranos:

They really kind of insulated themselves from some of these innovations. I think there’s a real challenge there for them. And what we’re likely to see is, the schools that were already embracing some online learning and some sort of tech enabled kind of work are likely going to do to Jason’s point, these resilient sort of adaptable, flexible, hybrid flex kind of models that they think are really likely what’s going to be in the market moving forward.

David Capranos:

What I’m also interested in too is to see how this impacts sort of different types of degrees. I think there’s going to be certain disciplines that probably respond to this better than others. We did a lot of work in our study to ask about sort of labs and hands on type of experiences and how those were impacted. And there are certain classes that were just based on kind of field trips or internships or different things that were sort of very physical and very like presence and connection to place was really important, had to be eliminated. And how do you bring those back? Do they just get struck from the catalog or do you find kind of ways to do those types of programs moving forward?

Shannon Riggs:

Very interesting. Christina, do you have anything to add from the academic services side?

Christina Anderson:

Yeah. So, the way that we’ve been thinking about this or kind of that there are different levels and layers of planning that needs to happen, right? At the most fundamental level, institutions probably are already shoring up infrastructure. Like the learning management system, video conferencing technologies, tech support, and faculty development and in some cases remote student services is where you’re seeing more of a need for those. And I think at the programmer course level, just different planning needs to happen. And I liked what you said, Jason, about it being purposeful.

Christina Anderson:

We always start with the student learning outcomes and your outcomes won’t change if you’re a face to face or online or hybrid, but how you approach them might change. And so I would think about planning differently, right? So, think of that, which outcomes would take more work to transform to online or hybrid and start thinking about this now and planning for that. And then the next layer think about what material you absolutely must cover synchronously. And for that material, how might you teach it virtually? So, either if you’re remote or half, your students are remote, what can you do to make that a great experience?

Christina Anderson:

And then for that material that can be covered asynchronously, how can you have that prepared in the LMS and ready to go for whichever modality you’re in. I think doing that preparation will help you flex from face to face or to hybrid, to online. Because one fear too is that this could change overnight again, right? If cases like on your campus and there’s an emergency closure you want to be as prepared as you can.

Shannon Riggs:

I hear some great instructional design strategy there. Starting with the outcomes, backward design. It just warms my heart. Let’s shift to the third consideration. The gray box on the screen there. What support might look like for students and faculty when it comes to planning flexibly? What do people need to be able to transition? I’m hearing a lot of things about folks being resilient, adaptable, flexible, those all sound like a workout to me. It needs training and needs preparation, right?

Jason Rhode:

Yeah. Well, and if I can jump in and say. I think, we’re thinking a lot in our campus about just that overall experience. I think it was already been mentioned, right? That there’s to David’s point about some of the concerns that students might have coming back. What’s that experience going to be like for our students and for our faculty. And we’re almost looking at it as having to kind of retell the story of what it means to be an NIU Huskie. All of our campuses, we’re all juggling these different forces that we’re trying to balance. There’s public health and government guidelines that we’re having to follow and collaborating with experts on our campus to try to interpolate those, think about how do we roll those out and how do we function in a way that it follows those guidelines.

Jason Rhode:

We’re looking at about an 80% reduction in our classroom capacity to follow social distancing guidelines. So, to accommodate that, we’re looking at a lot of different things to support our students. Thinking about things like staggered schedule type courses, where a course, half of the students might meet one time a week and the other half meet separately. And then there’s other hybrid or virtual activities that are happening. We’re thinking a lot in supporting our students about just what are the activities, the co-curriculars. The engagement that will be available in person. How do we do that safely?

Jason Rhode:

Then what are the kind of virtual and community types of interactions that can happen to go along with that? So, really looking at all aspects of campus life working with our student advisory groups to hear from them as to what they expect and what do they want to see and our… we’ve adopted the mantra, Huskies never quit and we’re resilient as a community. And so how do we embrace that together and come together along that, those lines. But I just think communicating this back to, I think David you mentioned this earlier, communicating that plan to students that there is a plan. I think it’s critical that students know that yes, fall is going to be different than any other fall we’ve had.

Jason Rhode:

But we’re planning and we’re going to embrace that and we’re going to get through it together. And then working together to coordinate and execute, a very targeted and coordinated communication of what’s happening. We’ve pulled together a task force on our campus that’s really looking at kind of all communications to students as we returned to campus in the fall. And what does that need to look like? So, you’ve got housing and dining and bursar and financial aid. There’s all these different messages that students need to have and making sure it’s in a coordinated, consistent way, so that we’re not just completely overwhelming students and faculty with so many messages.

Shannon Riggs:

Given the likelihood that many institutions will need to expand remote learning, or take more of a blended approach as you’re talking about reducing the class sizes because of social distancing measures, are there any specific tools or methods that you would recommend that faculty integrate that would help?

Jason Rhode:

I’ll jump in first. I would just say communication is so important, and however you do it, whatever the platforms that your students are already using, try to maximize those. We just had a conversation on our campus. We have a mobile app for our institution. That’s been nice to have, but it hasn’t been the kind of go to place to communicate out to students. And really, mobile platform is the lowest common denominator nowadays. You look at most surveys, David will confirm this, but most students, they have a smartphone nowadays. Some type of mobile device, right.

Jason Rhode:

And so, thinking about how do you communicate in a format that’s easily accessible to those students. And so, if your institution has some type of tool that’s maybe already available, but maybe you haven’t leveraged it, maybe you’re not texting, maybe you’re not using some of these other mechanisms, but you have them at your fingertips. Now’s certainly the time to look to those. I continue to caution our campus to… in the spring, we just encourage faculty, use whatever you have and then just do the best you can.

Jason Rhode:

But we really need to think about that student experience for fall. And we want students using five different platforms in five different courses. What’s that experience going to be like for the students? How can we try to marry this idea of faculty choice and flexibility, but also, that student experience and having some consistency across courses? I think that’s an important consideration to keep in mind as you’re looking at tools.

Christina Anderson:

I think there’s a real tension there, Jason, because you want faculty to have the choice you want to enrich experience for students, but you don’t want everybody spending their time learning new tools and technologies. When I think about kind of what do you need to achieve and find the tool that works for that? Really go deep, and if it’s Zoom or Adobe Collaborate, or whatever your synchronous tool is and understand how to use that. And then maybe you have a technology for recording some sort of lecture or creating graphics.

Christina Anderson:

To support your lecture content and then a way for students to interact with each other in group projects, and to collaborate. But I don’t think the tool kit needs to be too broad or it’ll be overwhelming to the faculty and the students. And then the other thing we’d suggest is that a lot of campuses have this expertise and the centers for teaching and learning, or in groups like Jason. And reach out to those resources and see what tools they recommend and what sorts of training and support resources they have available.

Shannon Riggs:

I think one of the most challenging aspects that I’ve certainly heard on my home campus and just in other conversations, is about the courses that have those hands on kind of components or that just really seem to depend on those face-to-face kinds of traditional classroom settings. Are there any approaches to how we might adapt those courses or kind of rethink that kind of instruction for remote or virtual.

David Capranos:

I’ll tell you, we partnered, one of the schools that we worked with a WPI in Massachusetts, they are an engineering school in many ways. And a lot of it is kind of technical sort of things. And it was interesting to hear all the anecdotal stories about professors boxing up kind of pistons and stuff and mailing them out to students. Or driving out kit to the individual student’s homes and leaving it at the end of the driveway so they can pick it up in a responsible way.

David Capranos:

I think that a lot of that is great, creative stopgap kind of stuff that was done in this sort of emergency situation, but longer term. A lot of that stuff just probably doesn’t make as much sense. I mean, you probably have to think about how do we scale that appropriately. How do we come up with different types of experiences for students? And some of that can be really hands on and mailed out. But you might want to partner with someone to help you manage some of that. I don’t know if it can all be, professors boxing up stuff in the lab and sending it out.

Shannon Riggs:

Well, what about from the student perspective. What are we hearing from them that they need?

David Capranos:

We’ve done quite a bit of survey work, and it was interesting. This group responded in ways that are very different than what we call sort of a traditional online learnarage. And this group was really, showed a high amount of stress around schoolwork. And like you said, I think part of it was around that time commitment element. Like Jason and Christina mentioned, sort of learning new tools and some of the fatigue around that. There were some real challenges there. Students are obviously really concerned about financial things, and financial support and offers of financial support, might be something that helps to bridge the gap for some students on whether or not they return in this semester or future ones.

David Capranos:

Really a lot around sort of social contact. Students reporting stresses around just not being able to interact with other students. Kind of things that they were really looking forward to. You imagine someone freshman and sophomore year, and it being kind of taken away from them. And we really got a lot of responses there. So ways that we can sort of promote that interaction, take care of people’s physical and mental health, I think are going to be really important in the fall as well.

Christina Anderson:

I would add, and David, you could correct me if I’m wrong, but in the previous work that we’ve done and we know these students and the experience is different. I think some of these do apply. We know that students beginning in line programs are really concerned about the instructor interaction. I have time label that response be what will I do without face-to-face interaction? What’s the quality of instruction? And we know what’s frustrating to them, right? This study was from over 2000 online learners.

Christina Anderson:

The largest frustration that you see, are that lack of interaction and the timeliness of responses and inconsistency that Jason touched on earlier. And I think from some of the themes we’ve seen emerging from other surveys about the spring semester, with all of the nonacademic pieces that are stressful also. So students are asking for support with mental health services, with financial guidance, with technology. So we can’t leave all of that out of the discussion either.

Jason Rhode:

If I can throw one more thing in too, we’ve had some just virtual town halls where our students in different levels of conversations. One of the things that’s come up is that students are a little bit just unsure of how ready they are to move on, from what they learned in the spring. We said, we helped them finish out courses in the spring, and did as best we could, but, they didn’t get a chance in some of those hands on or other types of more applicable types of experiences to really get in and do it. And so maybe they didn’t get the kind of interaction or feedback, like Christina was talking about, that the students need.

Jason Rhode:

And so, helping the students and helping our faculty think about how do we help reassure our students, that we’re going to be there to help make sure they are ready to take that next step in that sequence of courses. Ensuring that they have the skills are rock solid and ready to move on and be successful. I think there’s just kind of this uncertainty with some of our students, that they’re not sure if they’re ready yet. And so how can we, maybe, as we look at fall, think about building in an opportunity there for students to kind of revisit some of those skills, competencies and really make sure that they’re ready to be successful moving forward.

David Capranos:

That’s such a good point. I was going to just say, I have a lot of concern about certain disciplines that stack. You think about math being an obvious one, computer programming, some of these other ones where, if you didn’t really nail things in class one, class two’s going to be much more difficult for you. And how do we ensure that those remedial sort of tutoring services, or, kind of additional things are available for students. We’re not just asking them to repeat classes they’ve already taken, but really helping them bridge that knowledge gap, I think, is something that’s really important.

Christina Anderson:

I think in addition to the content and skills, we didn’t always support students in learning how to learn online. When we are having our traditional online programs, we do spend time orienting students to the online environment strategies that they might use resources at their disposal. I think as programs continue to be hybrid or to be remote, we can’t lose sight of that sort of skill development in students as well.

Jason Rhode:

You’re going to have students coming in, you’ve got your returning students, but then you’re going to have brand new students into these programs. And so they’re going to have different sets of questions, different needs. And so, that really multi pronged communication approach is going to be essential.

Shannon Riggs:

Great. How are we doing on time? I think we’re doing okay. I think we can probably transition now to… There’s a lot of questions pouring in through the Q&A, and I know Megan is monitoring the chat, and will, hopefully, jump in if there’s a question that we need to bring in from the chat, but I can start with one from the Q&A. This one, it relates to something we were just talking about. Can we use this experience as a teaching moment for the students to learn that in the workforce, it is vital to have agility, flexibility, thinking outside of the box and willingness to move forward in a new way to achieve the necessary goals?

David Capranos:

Yeah. 100% sort of asked and answered there, right? I know Christina and I, as colleagues, have probably never been on video more than we have in the last few months here, and so, it’s impacting all of us in a similar way. I think there’s definitely some lessons there to be learned. And I think ultimately too, not just for the students, but for the faculty as well. These are the realities that we’re likely facing moving forward. And I think we’ve had some folks that are been able to be sort of isolated and in a really traditional sort of residential campus experience, where they cannot really interact with a lot of technology. And the reality is that at some point, we’re going to have to break through and they’re going to have to set up a Zoom call on their own or an email or things like that, and then kind of learn some of this stuff.

Shannon Riggs:

We’re also having some questions, there’s a couple of questions in the Q&A regarding proctoring and academic integrity. I wonder if the panel could address those concerns.

Jason Rhode:

Maybe I’ll jump in first and then let Christina take it from there. I know those were some of the early questions we had from our faculty. How am I going to deliver my exam, my midterm and my final exam? And so, it really led to some broader conversations where we talked, not just about, yes, there are proctoring solutions, we have those and, but inherently there’s challenges when you introduce those types of solutions. We, at our campus, we have several different solutions that faculty can choose from. And they have different bells and whistles and pros and cons, from more automated types of passive kinds of proctoring solutions to more, what we’ll call, intrusive or in a direct proctoring with a live person.

Jason Rhode:

But before we would just suggest that, and anytime we talk about those solutions, we also talk side by side, we’re thinking about your assessment. Why are you needing that? Have you thought about other types of authentic kinds of assessments? You can use lower stakes, more of those objective types of assessments, maybe for lower stakes. But that higher stakes types of assessment, we always advocate for thinking about opportunities for students to practically apply what they’re doing and where you’re not going to be so worried about those academic integrity issues.

Christina Anderson:

We take a very similar approach, Jason. Trying to translate, and again, we know it was hard in the spring semester when there wasn’t time to really transform those assessments, but if you can align those outcomes more to authentic assessments and research projects in case analyses, or having students give presentations, and different approaches that are more difficult if you’re concerned about cheating.

Shannon Riggs:

Anything else to add on that? Or I can move on to this-

David Capranos:

The only thing I would add to that is, whatever you do plan on doing, communicate it. If you’re having those internal conversations when making those decisions, let the students know. Let the students know that we’re adapting and we’re changing and we’re trying to meet the moment. I think that’ll be important to relieve some of the stress that they’re going to be feeling.

Shannon Riggs:

That communication piece seems really important. There’s a question related to that in the Q&A. Normal Holback has asked, she’s concerned with student’s response about time limits of instructor’s response as some or many of those students may be expecting the faculty to respond at midnight or other kind of off times. And students tend to keep unusual schedules and think faculty should be responding immediately, no matter what time of the day or night. If I can get into my classroom 24/7, then I should have [inaudible 00:42:58] to get that answer 24/7, might be the expectation. What are your thoughts about how to address that?

Christina Anderson:

I was looking at that one because that’s a common concern that we hear. And I think to David’s point about reiterating that communication and clearly outlining when you’re available, what your response time will be at the different certain days of the week. And your preferred mode of communication too. Do you have maybe a discussion forum where you can post questions and answers that other students might be able to respond to, as opposed to every student sending an individual email?

Jason Rhode:

Just being upfront with the students. If you’re going to be delayed it’s not necessarily bad that might take you a little longer, but just letting them know, “Hey, I’m going to be traveling or I’m going to be offline for a couple of days.” Just being transparent with students. I think the students appreciate that, it’s authentic. I’ll often want to communicate something out and rather than hammer out an email, maybe just a quick minute, quick video or something to share with students. Just adds that kind of personal connection, but we’re communicating with our students.

Jason Rhode:

It is something that we’re stressing is that, you can expect faculty to be… they’re going to be engaging with you, and there’s going to be that prompt response. And I think at our institutions, we need to clearly articulate that expectation to our faculty, that part of teaching. If you were in the classroom, you would be having those interactions with the students. If you’re going to be in the online or remote arena, you need to find ways to have that sense of presence with your students. That’s important.

Shannon Riggs:

That leads to one of the other questions in the Q&A. For faculty who are so used to and are really, only have experience on that face to face traditional classroom setting, what are the tools when you say, just make a video for your students. What if there’s a faculty member that is, not a familiar thing for you. Are there specific tools that you would recommend or that you do recommend at your campus? Or does it depend? What would you say to that for the faculty who are kind of stymied by that?

Jason Rhode:

Well, I always start with what’s simple and what I have. It’s my phone. I’m using a lot of free apps, things that just, I have easy access to, and then my students have easy access to. We’ve used this whole COVID experience to really showcase the tools that are already at faculty’s fingertips that they can use. If it’s the laptop, and it’s the webcam on their laptop, and how can they use the free app that’s on their laptop. If it’s a Mac or Windows, to record some video and then easily share it with their students, using devices that they have.

Jason Rhode:

We’re actually doing a whole teaching effect in this Institute later in August, in fact when we come back. Just thinking about video, simple things you can do with video. How you can quickly record something, not just a personal message. It could be some kind of quick demonstration, quick how to. It could be a screen cast demonstrating a type of a skill. These tools, you don’t have to do a lot of polishing editing. They’re quick, they’re easy.

Jason Rhode:

A lot of the platforms where you upload them or share them in the cloud have auto captioning, that’s getting really good to the point where it really helps you without a lot of extra effort. Make sure that your content’s accessible. Again, I think back to the spring where the bar was lowered in the sense of the barrier to entry with a lot of these tools and just getting in and trying it, I think is just the message we keep reiterating the faculty.

Shannon Riggs:

Often when we have those kinds of conversations, use the tools that you have, often the next question, or the next consideration is for how do we make those materials accessible for students who may have disabilities? Julian Zaner in the Q&A has asked, what academic adjustments could be used or could be implemented to support students with disabilities?

Christina Anderson:

From a design perspective and, Jason, if you have other advice, but we usually start with a universal design for learning as far as principles of being inclusive and designing for students with different needs. If you’re not familiar with that, I think it’s a great resource. And I would also say this could vary by campus as far as what access or, I’m sorry, what resources your office of accessibility or disability services might provide as well. I think if you think broadly about designing the materials and there’s some good pointers too.

Christina Anderson:

If you’re recording a video and you’re speaking to visuals and you know that this will be transcribed, you can’t just say, well, as you can see here, and assume that everybody can see that. That you might want to describe what you’re talking about. That’d be a good place to start if you’re not familiar. And then as Jason mentioned too, a lot of the tools now for video, the auto transcription is really reaching a high percentage of accuracy. So starting to explore what resources you have available to you on your campus, is a good place as well.

Shannon Riggs:

Another kind of related access question that’s come up a couple of times in the Q&A is relating to the internet availability and student connections speeds. How do we bridge that gap for students who don’t have good internet or good devices?

Jason Rhode:

That’s a huge, huge concern. Our campus, we serve a very large population that we found, didn’t have automatic have access at home. And so, we had a lot of questions in the spring, just where do I find Wi-Fi? What do I do? We had students sitting in the parking lot at McDonald’s, connecting to the free Wi-Fi to be able to get online. Something we’re actively thinking about is how do we ensure that students are ready for fall? What technology do they have? What are the gaps that they have? Thinking about just devices, but also the network connectivity.

Jason Rhode:

I think the providers were really quick in the spring to provide complimentary access or to increase bandwidth on access. And there’s a lot of these variables that are beyond our control. And I think back to communication, finding out what the needs are. We’ve just kind of solicited an opportunity for students to apply for small grants, some funds to help cover, up to $500. But to kind of help cover some of those costs if they needed to purchase some network access or we had a few, some mobile hotspots that we could provide and students could check out from the library. Just trying to be resourceful with what you have and just, I think, asking what are the needs, and trying to connect what resources you do have with the needs that you’re hearing from the students.

Shannon Riggs:

What about international students? The question in the chat is, how are you handling international students who may be, six to 12 or more hours ahead. For example, New York city to London, to China, of the time that the class would be online for those with the synchronous components.

Christina Anderson:

We’ve seen some of our partners rotate when those synchronous sessions are offered to hit different times zones and always to record the sessions. It’s not the same to watch the recording, but at least you do have access to the content. And then providing virtual office hours potentially at different times as well. Again, giving students a little bit of choice and flexibility to the extent you can accommodate it.

Shannon Riggs:

Another question. Are textbook publishers rolling out, improved testing and quizzing capabilities or flexibilities for instructors to use?

Christina Anderson:

I don’t know that the publishers move that quickly. No one from Wiley publishing is listening to that. But I do think that depending on your discipline, there are a lot of digital tools out there, many of which are adaptive and have all of that sort of branching based on the student response built in, would be my guess. But maybe this will be, I mean, to a point about the innovations that will come out of this, maybe that will be one that we’ll see in the next six to 12 months.

Shannon Riggs:

Oh, there’s another question here, and that’s kind of a different angle that I don’t think we’ve covered exactly yet. What about institutions who have experiences like internships, fieldwork? We’ve talked a little bit about labs and those kinds of materials, but what about those experiential learning kinds of opportunities? What are institutions doing to provide those experiences for students?

David Capranos:

This is an interesting one for me, because I know that we’ve had interns in the past that were remote in nature. We’ve got a few different offices, and so you might have an intern that is in your Chicago office, but they’re working with someone in your Orlando office and using some of the tools that have become really common lately. Like zoom and things like that. But we were doing that years ago. I think there are creative ways to do that.

David Capranos:

I know Christina too, could probably speak to some of the things that we’ve done to create sort of virtual field trip types of opportunities. Where we’re going into facilities for a course and sort of videotaping it and finding ways to sort of have that real world opportunity, but happened in a virtual, sometimes even 3D virtual kind of space, is something that we’ve already seen developed. And so, I think it’s just a question about the application, how quickly we can get stuff up and running.

Christina Anderson:

I think there was a question related to this, about the accreditation. I know, for example, the CSWE for social work education is changing the requirements. Say to allow virtual counseling to count towards your clinical hours and that sort of thing. I think we are seeing some changes there, depending on the discipline.

David Capranos:

We’ve also seen, on the admission side of things, kind of a related question. We’ve seen some easing of testing requirements and some schools are going to be waiving SAT requirements and GRE and GMAT requirements and along those lines for the upcoming semesters, just because they’re so challenging to get done.

Shannon Riggs:

There is a couple of questions around the idea of shortened classes. How do you keep from compromising the curriculum when the 14-week semesters have been shortened to six and seven weeks? And then, some questions around the Carnegie units measured by seat time in traditional classroom. How are we measuring that in a remote space or, in a maybe condensed?

Christina Anderson:

Jason, you want this, or you want me to jump in.

Jason Rhode:

I’ll let you take it, Christina.

Christina Anderson:

We have some calculators that we use to make that calculation between the FaceTime that you would typically have in person, to what that translates to online. There are equivalencies for how much time you might spend drafting a response to an online discussion, or how much time you might spend reading materials that might otherwise be lectured. Again, this goes back to that kind of having time to plan and really be intentional about how you use that time differently. Because you don’t want to be lecturing online necessarily for the same time that you might do in person, but you can substitute other activities and come up with that equivalent sweet time.

Shannon Riggs:

Let’s see. Someone’s asking about COVID testing for students on campus. I’m wondering it should be mandatory, optional, dependent on supplies. What does that look like?

Jason Rhode:

That’s a great question. I’m not sure, maybe David could speak to that. I don’t know if students are expressing interest through the surveys and such. I think from our perspective, we are leaning and erring on the side of caution with our communications with our students. And we’ve not explicitly stated in our kind of return to campus guidelines, a frequency by which testing should occur, but we do have guidelines for all of our campus community, faculty, staff, and students in terms of just wellness.

Jason Rhode:

Kind of self checks that they every day should consider. Here’s a checklist of things and if you feel any of these things, don’t come to work and get tested. There are things you can do that are short of a full blown formal test that really help promote a sense of self care, and of just understanding that we as a community are here to support one another and our actions have influence on the rest of the campus.

David Capranos:

The only thing I would add to that is, obviously you’re going to have to follow federal and local guidelines. But, I think for the students, communication is going to be key. Something as simple as printing out these guidelines and pasting them on the door to the facility, or, if you’ve got a fever, don’t enter the building. Those sorts of things, I think, you might think they go without saying, but really they don’t, you need to say them and you need to have them out there.

Shannon Riggs:

Well, a follow up question to that from Judith Sebesta in our audience, is hypothetical question. In a high flex model, where say 50% of students in a course can be accommodated in the physical classroom. 50% needed to be remote or online. What do we do if 75% of the students prefer the classroom? How does one decide who gets to do what and avoid a potentially detrimental have and have nots kind of situation. That’s really an ethical dilemma.

David Capranos:

I’ve actually taken classes in these models and seeing kind of first come first serve situations where, if you don’t show up 15, 20 minutes early to get a seat with this rock star lecture, you’re not going to get a seat that day and you’re going to have to watch it on your laptop in the hallway. And it does create some stress there. I think it’s something that is an interesting thing to consider. I don’t know the answer to that one. What you’d be able to do to sort of indicate it with a lottery system or something along those lines of triggers, creative solutions out there. But, it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.

Shannon Riggs:

Let’s see. I think we probably have time to squeeze in one more question. Let’s go with one from Tom Frederick. It’s my experience that students can adapt to online instruction better than many faculty. How do you bring faculty to comfort?

Jason Rhode:

One of the things we’ve done is just trying to link faculty with one another. Faculty love to hear from their colleagues. We launched, we called it a remote teaching fellow program in the spring where we just asked if faculty, if you’re comfortable in this space and you’d be willing to meet virtually with a colleague and just kind of share your experience. And we had over 30 faculty from across all of our colleges be willing to do that. And so, we just quickly arranged a quick means by which faculty could book an appointment with a colleague to talk about their class and kind of the challenges that they were facing. And so, I would look for those kinds of opportunities where you can kind of get your rock star faculty who are leading in this space to come alongside and, and share their expertise with others.

Christina Anderson:

I love that. And I would say one additional thing is to encourage your faculty to become an online student. So whether it’s taking a course that teaches you how to teach online, or whether it’s enrolling in a MOOC, which is a different format, but it still creates that sense of empathy about what is the online student going through and what is their experience like.

Megan:

Great. I’m going to jump in quickly because we’re at the end of the hour, but I just want to say to the audience, thank you for the excellent questions in the chat. This has been a really, really good conversation. Thank you so much to our presenters, Christina, Jason, and David, and Shannon, of course, for moderating.

Megan:

So if this is your first WCET webcast, be sure to visit our website. And many of the questions that were asked today, we’ve covered in our blog series, which has WCET frontiers, and that’s free and open to everybody. So be sure to get on there and you can subscribe to our blog. We do a lot around policy and education. Much of your questions we hear and we’re doing all we can to make sure that we’re providing resources and content that’s just in time.

Megan:

Wiley has provided numerous resources here. We’ll also add those links to the chat. This was recorded, and we’ll be sure to add captions and then send that back out, hopefully today. And again, just stay tuned to our webcast. We’d like to think our supporting members as well as our sponsors, that help underwrite much of our programming and events here at WCET. Hopefully, we’ll see you at our next event. Thank you so much for your time. All stay well.

Christina Anderson:

Thank you. Take care.

Megan:

Bye everyone. Thank you.

David Capranos:

Bye everyone.

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