Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning helps faculty switch to distance learning to lessen COVID-19 impact
At institutions of higher learning all over the world, those who teach suddenly are becoming students themselves, as the impact of COVID-19 forced faculty to quickly pivot from in-person classes to remote instruction.
For the first time in Wheaton’s 186-year history, the college’s personal face-to-face learning must be delivered via computer and telephone screens. It has been no small feat but, within a matter of a few days, Wheaton was up and running with virtual classes by the time students returned from an extended spring break on Monday, March 23.
That is thanks to the eagerness of faculty members to help, learn and support each other, and the leadership and guidance of the Wheaton Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning (CCTL), which was established a year ago.
Co-directed by Professor of English Claire Buck, Professor of Anthropology M. Gabriela Torres and Humanities Liaison Cary Gouldin, CCTL leverages collaboration between faculty, staff and students to build a rigorous and culturally diverse learning community that advances a transformative student education.
In true collaborative spirit—even amid the storm of demands on their time—they have shared their approach with others in published essays and media stories:
- The co-directors wrote the opinion piece “How to transition (quickly) to online instruction” for University Business.
- The co-directors also wrote the guest column “Making the Leap from the Traditional to the Virtual Educational Experience” published in The New England Journal of Higher Education.
- Professor Torres is quoted in the story “How to prep faculty for e-learning during coronavirus closures” published in University Business.
- Professor Torres also is quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s story “The coronavirus has pushed courses online. Professors are trying hard to keep up.” (The story is premium content behind Chronicle’s pay wall.)
In preparing faculty for remote classes at Wheaton, the co-directors (as well as the Office of the Provost, Wallace Library staff and other campus partners) have worked with faculty to develop contingency planning for their courses.
While preparations are being made for technology resources, CCTL’s focus has been on helping faculty figure how to adapt course objectives in this new situation and learning space. The co-directors are offering advice and ideas about adapting assignments, managing student needs and expectations, inclusion concerns and other issues at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Early on in the process, they extended an invitation to all faculty members to sign up for 30-minute one-on-one conversations to collaboratively think through changes with evidence-informed pedagogy.