COVID-19 and Educational Challenges: University of Alabama Offers Tips for Teaching Online

As UA shifts to distance learning for the foreseeable future to combat the spread of COVID-19, some faculty will be called to teach courses online for the first time. As UA shifts to distance learning for the foreseeable future to combat the spread of COVID-19, some faculty will be called to teach courses online for the first time. University of Alabama

With UA's announcement that all spring semester coursework would be done online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, instructors at Alabama are having to make some significant - and quick - changes to the way they teach their students remotely.

“This is an unprecedented moment in time,” said Dr. Claire Howell Major, professor of higher education in the department of educational leadership, policy and technology studies. “We are having to shift en masse to emergency remote teaching. We have faculty who have been teaching on campus in a face-to-face mode who are having to figure out how students can connect around content and learn for the remainder of the semester using internet tools available to them.”

Major teaches technology in higher education and has several tips to keep in mind as faculty start teaching online next week.

  • Be available to your students and let them know you care about them and their learning. According to Major, caring is what matters most.
  • Connect with your students on a human level and regularly communicate with them.
  • Keep learning goals in mind at all times and use assignments and tools in order to help students achieve those goals.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Everyone is trying to do their best in these difficult times, faculty and students alike.
  • Understand that there will be some headaches but that’s normal. Glitches in technology are bound to happen but you’ll get through it.
  • Use this week to prepare materials. Teaching online requires a good bit of advance planning and is a completely different animal than teaching in a classroom.

“Things are likely going to be bumpy at first, particularly in this situation when there isn’t enough time to plan like we’d really like to be able to do,” said Major. “I think that we have to accept that it won’t be perfect the first time. But it will get better.”

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