When Learning Goes Remote: Faculty and Student Perspectives Following COVID-19

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Tyton Partners and Digital Promise surveyed faculty and students on the transition to remote learning. Student insights from the spring highlight challenges they faced and practices they responded to. Faculty responses from the spring and summer showcase how institutions responded with training and resources in preparation for the academic year.

Extended Abstract

The spring 2020 terms was a dramatic one for higher education colleges and universities. In the span of three weeks, over 90% of faculty unexpectedly migrated their courses to a remote environment, affecting an estimated 17M students. Many of these faculty had never taught online and institutions had varying degrees of online infrastructure and support. For students, the transition to fully remote instruction required factors that were not always equitable; for example, the need for an at-home computing device, a reliable internet connection, knowledge of navigating online platforms, and time and space to complete school work. As many recognized, the result of a fast transition was instruction that fell far short of the current standards for high-quality online learning and the inability to be fully prepared for what was needed following the transition. This disproportionately affected many traditionally underserved student populations including, but not limited to, poverty-impacted students, racially minoritized students, and first-generation students.

Tyton Partners and Digital Promise, with support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Every Learner Everywhere network, sought to understand and analyze the rapid transition to remote learning from the perspectives of both faculty and students. For faculty, this included changes in pedagogy and curriculum, achievement of student learning outcomes, availability of institutional supports, and adoption of digital tools. For students, this included online practices and supports associated with higher levels of course satisfaction, challenges in the transition to remote instruction, and exploration of variables that appear to mitigate these challenges. The two surveys  were designed collaboratively to support comparisons between faculty and student opinions and examination of equity from multiple perspectives. 

This presentation will focus on sharing the spring survey responses from a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 students and bridging it to the summer survey responses from 3,700 faculty from institutions across the United States. We will focus on the equity impacts of the transition, particularly for typically underserved student populations. We will then talk about how faculty responded to the challenges presented by participating in professional development, modifying courses, and incorporating evidence-based teaching practices. By attending this presentation, participants will:

  • Understand student experiences following the rapid transition to remote instruction, particularly for racially minoritized students and poverty-impacted students
  • Explore faculty preparation during the summer for a fall term in an online, hybrid, or highly flexible model
  • Conceptualize how practices associated with more positive student experiences post-COVID can be implemented in continuity plans