As COVID-19 social distancing measures continue to force more and more institutions to adopt emergency plans to move courses to remote teaching, we are often asked to share lessons learned from our experience moving Duke Kunshan to remote teaching and learning in February as the first waves of COVID-19 hit Wuhan and China at large. In this post, we’ll provide some links to summary information from that effort, as well as continue to update links and info that might be useful to our peers and colleagues at other institutions as they consider the best strategies for helping their own communities.
Case study: Duke Kunshan’s emergency online pivot
Ithaka S+R has produced a case study detailing the effort to move Duke Kunshan quickly online. They also hosted a webinar with our team and leaders from Duke Kunshan on the remote learning pivot which was recorded and is available for viewing. On March 24, Coursera is hosting a webinar on how Duke Kunshan used their platform as part of the academic continuity response. (Coursera has notably made Coursera for Campus free to all affected institutions this semester.)
Lessons learned: general advice for centers, support staff, faculty and others helping with remote teaching efforts
- Remote teaching and learning is not traditional ‘online learning’ — it is First-aid: We’re applying online learning as an emergency measure — we don’t have time to do the counseling, long-term therapy and recovery we often want to do when we help faculty become ‘good’ online instructors. Don’t confuse the two and don’t get frustrated when everyone isn’t adopting your best practices. Calling this ‘remote teaching’ or ‘remote learning’ signals this is different: not the heavy lift of full-blown online learning, but something more temporal; more just-in-time.
- Create a space: Many institutions have a website or page for some contingency planning. Consolidate communications, guides, contact information and more in one place. Ours is called Keep Teaching at Duke.
- Over-communicate: Now is not the time to be sensitive to people’s inbox overload. In addition to faculty, make sure students know what’s going on, as well as support staff. Don’t leave anyone in the dark on key decisions and announcements.
- Examples: Once faculty successfully create digital translations of their courses, share those stories.
- Be prescriptive: Once a crisis hits, no one has time to thoroughly weigh options or spend time considering them. Help people out by giving them clear options.
- Triage and feedback loops: Set up a single path for requests for your support teams to assign and triage. For your wider community, create spaces and ways they can also help each other (ex: set up forums; host open-ended Zoom sessions; etc).
- Backchannel(s) – We used Slack to coordinate outside of email and Sakai. Now Duke-wide we’re all using Microsoft Teams to work out support issues across divisions to help faculty, staff and students. We do this so we can come to a shared consensus before providing answers.
- Motivate and love on your team: We included everyone on our team (finance folks, admin support, etc.) in support and planning meetings. Everyone helps; everyone offers ideas. This inclusivity helped motivate our entire unit to do this work for the long haul ahead.
- Crisis is not normal. People need community, encouragement to engage and connection – pause and reinforce ways to do this for faculty and students. Keep your chin up. Remind yourself why we do this. Don’t take others’ fear and frustrations too personally.
The remote teaching and learning community
Our biggest lesson learned is that there’s a wide community of academics, educators, technologists, students and others who have great information to share. Use it. No one has to start from zero. We launched keepteaching.duke.edu but couldn’t have done this without prior work by Indiana University and others. Any institution may also borrow from our resources. Here’s a link to a massive and growing list of similar institution support sites: bit.ly/rtresourcelist
Educause has begun posting links to COVID-19 related resources. Other professional organizations such as the Online Learning Consortium and the Professional Organization of Developers (POD) network are offering webinars and more as well.
Not all institutions have large instructional design teams that can assist with custom-built solutions and trainings. The Instructional Design Emergency Response Network is a clearinghouse for learning designers who can help and institutions who need help.
Plymouth State University’s Rules of 2 Keeping it Simple as You Go Remote for COVID19