Brenna Clarke Gray and Brian Lamb
In March of 2020, like at countless institutions around the world, we undertook a massive transition to fully online teaching and learning. At our institution, though we are also home to an Open Learning division, our on-campus faculty were not particularly interested in digital pedagogies prior to the pandemic; for reference, of our faculty complement of 500, approximately half had never used our Learning Management System, and those who had primarily used it as a content repository. This meant that while we experienced a period of crisis and overwork, in which we developed quick references like our Pivot to Digital site (http://pivottodigital.trubox.ca), after the initial panic we were left with a moment of opportunity.
Through May and June, faculty anxiety about what our Fall term would bring fuelled a massive and, for our small team, unprecedented uptake of our support offerings. In response to this interest, we developed Digital Pedagogy Summer Camp, a series of twenty-one workshops on everything from technical skills to the theoretical underpinnings of good online instruction. For our team, the foundation of our approach was rooted in an ethic of care philosophy: simplify courses, scale back assessments and expectations, maximize instructor presence, and establish clear communication strategies. We provided much of the guidance on these issues at the institution and worked to offer consistent guidance and messaging that centred care for students – and for instructors – first. Our training plan focused on building community and establishing care, both in the classroom and among participants. It was also resolutely, insistently joyful, themed in bright pinks and purples, awarding badges with humorous names, and facilitated with openness and vulnerability.
In the immediate term, the project was a success, with 331 faculty taking at least one workshop during the summer, and 174 completing our pick-and-mix, eight-session “Certificate of Digital Competency.” More have accessed the archive in the intervening months. In the longer term, impacts are more amorphous, but we have seen greater engagement in our workshops overall, and greater awareness of our team’s work on campus. We have extended the conversations begun in Summer Camp through our podcast, You Got This!, a weekly discussion of online teaching and learning (http://yougotthis.trubox.ca). Whether the program and podcast — and our ongoing advocacy — have helped to reshape campus discussions of teaching and learning is more complicated to ascertain, but there are glimmers of a more engaged and aware community, even as there have been disappointments. Like all university communities, we struggle with resisting for-profit ventures and maintaining both the spirit and the infrastructure for openness; a more engaged and informed faculty population is critical to the success of this work.
This session will reflect on the larger community impact of taking a care-centred approach to the pandemic pivot and examines whether individual professional development can impact institutional priorities and approaches to care. It also invites reflection on faculty support work through the pandemic crisis by attendees, and offers suggestions for the future of care-centred educational technology support.
Learning Technology and Innovation. (2020). Pivot to Digital: A TRU Community Resource. Available at: https://pivottodigital.trubox.ca/
Learning Technology and Innovation. (2020). You Got This! Available at: https://yougotthis.trubox.ca/
- faculty support
- community of care