On February 26, FACET, the Office of Online Education, and IU's centers for teaching and learning hosted a virtual conference featuring authors of articles in the Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology (JoTLT) special issue on transitioning teaching and learning during the pandemic. The conference had four panel discussions and the recordings can be viewed here.
The first panel, moderated by Julie Saam, focused on communication, mental health, belonging, and engagement. Five panelists provided their thoughts on staying positive in the classroom, being flexible and adaptable, student vulnerability, balancing grace, and more. "It's important to have a sense of authentic positivity and be genuine. Something I've found important is doing check-ins, and being open and honest with students," Courtney Fecske explained. "Also from the instructor side, practicing self care. It's difficult to be empathetic, understanding, and give grace when you're so stressed out for yourself. It's important to have a multi-dimensional understanding of positivity and focus on coping, adapting, and thinking long term of what we are getting out of this."
Providing a different perspective, Indiana University student Katherine Cornell shared her experience from the other side of the classroom. "All of us humans are going through difficult times and it's hard to keep that positivity every day, every time you're on Zoom and trying to keep that upbeat liveliness. Especially as students, it's understanding the locus of control that we have, because I can only control so much. I could have never predicted that students would have their freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year ripped away from them," Cornell illustrated. "Being able to understand that no matter what we do, it's always going to be out of our hands at this point, but we can focus on how to adjust and react. Making sure that what's in our control, our emotions, mood, and the actions that we're taking to engage with our communities."
The second panel discussion centered on changes as a result of the experience and transformation moving forward, moderated by Robin Morgan. To start the session, each panelist explained what they did as a function of the pandemic to transform to a virtual environment and shared what they learned from the experience. After each panelist shared their thoughts, the group discussed what we can learn moving forward.
Clark Barwick, Indiana University, faced physical proximity and content delivery challenges when transitioning his course on coffee, culture, and global exchange. By utilizing "YouTube, Zoom, and connecting those technologies, my class became something different than I originally imagined," Barwick explained. "The work that we did had a newfound purpose and students demonstrated an awareness for the struggles of others. One of my original course objectives was to ask students to think more deeply about the world around them. I say this to an extent that I've never before witnessed as an instructor."
Furthering the challenge of physical proximity, Kylee Rohatgi, Saint Mary's College, shared her experience from the healthcare perspective. She explained three lessons she learned from transitioning nursing courses: utilizing available resources, technology as a tool (not the answer), and crucial time management. For example, students typically perform a physical head-to-toe assessment of a fellow classmate and receive feedback from Rohatgi. Since the course was online, students performed this assessment on family members in their homes and submitted a video recording. "I related this to a general nursing concept that when they become nurses, not everything will happen like the textbook says it does," Rohatgi shared. "They have to be creative thinkers."
The third panel, moderated by Harold Olivey, discussed collaboration, creativity, and innovative engagement. In a similar fashion to the second panel, each panelist summarized their experience followed by group discussion. Anu Muhonen, University of Toronto, and Elisa Rasanen, Indiana University, built upon their prior established collaboration of Finnish studies programs through mobile chat apps. "Students get to meet other students and like-minded students in their studies, collaborate with people outside the classroom, and practice the language in an informal outside of the classroom manner," Muhonen stated. In another international collaboration, Elizabeth Goering, IUPUI, and Andrea Krause, Paderborn University, developed a communication-based “Learning Pod” model for Department of English courses and American Studies at a German university. The student pods interacted through Zoom, Skype, and other online social tools.
Continuing the social trend, Viola Ardeni, University of California Davis, Sara Dallavalle, The University of Chicago, Karolina Serafin, Indiana University, shared their experience using Instagram and other social media tools to engage students in their Italian courses at Indiana University. They developed a bingo game for students who check off the bingo spaces by performing activities such as cooking an Italian recipe or introducing their pet in Italian, then sharing it on Instagram.
The final panel, moderated by Greg Siering, focused on institutional support and preparing to make the transition. After each panelist summarized their experience, Siering asked them to share the key takeaways of what they have learned:
"We learned to take small steps in trying new strategies. It was too overwhelming to think about changing so many things that we've never done before at one time. For example, we would focus on breakout rooms one day and practice with each other online. We did a lot of that sort of thing, just steps at a time." - Mary Ann Frank, IUPUI
"What we needed to do was to be really flexible. When we tried some things and it didn't work, we worked with the students together to negotiate, reflect, and change things radically if we had to." - Tara Winters, The University of Auckland
"I learned to be more intentional in my teaching, clear about what my goals are, and have a support structure. This [support structure] helped me to achieve my goals, because I would know what I wanted to do, but not exactly how to do it. I could talk to my colleagues and friends, they helped me with technology and ideas. That really helps to become more intentional in every way, developing modules more systematically, and guiding the students through them." - Nancy Goldfarb, IUPUI
"When you're facing this kind of challenge, building trust between the institution/administration as our center with faculty, and also faculties building trust with their students is important when moving courses online. This is a new environment for many faculties and students. They try to mirror everything in the physical classroom to the online environment, and they have to rebuild the trust between the students and how they are going to carry on the courses. As an institution, we have to help faculties to build trust and let them know that no matter what kind of challenges they're having, we will have support for them." - Meilun Shih, National Taiwan University
We would like to thank all of the panelists and moderators, as well as IU’s centers for teaching and learning and the Office of Online Education. The JoTLT special issue will be published in March 2021. Be sure to check the website for updates on the release.