I’m guessing this particular post is going to be an ongoing work in progress with additions made to it regularly.
You see, we are all learning, students and faculty.
The decision to move online took only a matter of days once we knew the severity of the coronavirus outbreak and what its potential could be for our community at Stevenson University. Within a three-day span, we learned we were closing and we instituted online practices for faculty. Our university moved swiftly, and there was a ton of support offered from many: from our president and administrators; from our technology folks; from our department chairs and deans; and from each other. As one of three Faculty Fellows on campus, our group offered an informative session to help those who have not taught online transition to remote learning.
Last Monday, a week ago today, we officially moved to online learning after returning from a week of spring break (which was more like a week of prepping to go online). Faculty have had to revamp their courses, alter due dates, reconstruct syllabi, learn teaching technology, experiment with learning tools, and restructure assignments to better fit online learning. Additionally, we are offering virtual office hours and advising for next Fall’s schedules.
If it sounds as if these past two weeks were a whirlwind, you are right. It’s been a whirlwind for so many of us in the world, let alone, this our nation. Our lives have been changed, but knock on wood, we remain healthy to do our work from home.
Therefore, as a professor at a university, I thought I would share the most important things I have learned thus far during this time, if only to keep a record and share with you how it’s all going. Please remember, however, that this list remains a work in progress.
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
I’ve learned that we are resilient, and we are better at adapting to new things than we thought;
I’ve learned that we are more technologically savvy than we give ourselves credit for;
I’ve learned that we can still have meaningful discussions with students remotely;
I’ve learned that there is more support around you than you ever thought was possible;
I’ve learned that the people I can count on are still the people I can count on;
I’ve learned that my family has wonderful patience, even more so than I thought they had;
I’ve learned that the saying “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going” really applies to life;
I’ve learned that help is there if you just ask for it;
I’ve learned that students look to us for guidance, support, and advice more than we may have imagined;
I have learned that giving grace is not optional under these circumstances, but necessary;
I’ve learned that being understanding comes into the fold more often than not;
I’ve learned so much about online learning that teaching my first summer online master’s course will be so much earlier because of all I’ve tapped into during these last two weeks;
I’ve learned even more so that working with good people is the foundation of rewarding employment;
I’ve learned that the definition of a “life-long learner” is something I take great pride in as the learning curve continues and will continue.
Whew. That’s a lot so far, and as I mentioned, there is more learning to come.
So let’s all hang tight and see what unfolds as we move forward into the next weeks of the unknown as we navigate these most unusual circumstances and pray for an end to this virus and the havoc it has caused.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Communication at Stevenson University. She is the author of 5 works of fiction and the co-author of one academic textbook on Event Planning. Her character-driven books are set in beautiful Maryland locations and examine the realities of the human heart. She also enjoys writing about baseball, having worked in the sport for more than a decade. Connect with her on Instagram at stephanie.verni or on Twitter at @stephverni. Or, visit her Amazon page at Stephanie Verni, Author.