Reimagining The Shift From Emergency Remote Teaching To High Quality Blended Learning

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will present a framework for reimagining the transition from Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) to the conceptualization, development, and delivery of high-quality blended learning experiences

Extended Abstract

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional forms of instructional delivery (e.g., face-to-face teaching, on-site laboratory activities) were either significantly reduced in scope or altogether eliminated as educational institutions of all types were forced to turn to various forms of digital teaching and learning to ensure at least some form of educational continuity. This shift to “Emergency Remote Teaching” was sudden, unexpected, and rife with challenges. 

One of the clearest outcomes that our recent experience with Emergency Remote Teaching has yielded is the increased recognition among educators that digital, remote forms of instruction offer a viable, effective, and efficient way of supporting students’ mastery of knowledge, application of learning, and preparation for career success. Although accurately predicting the long-term future of education as a result of the pandemic may be challenging, thoughtful and proactive consideration of likely future states can help educational institutions consciously prepare for the “new reality” that is likely to emerge.  

There is little doubt that the new reality in educational delivery promises the benefits of blending face-to-face interactions with the implementation of high-quality, effective digital teaching and learning. Ensuring the most meaningful blended educational experiences for students requires us to capitalize on recent advances in learning science and technology, which are all too often ignored. Maximizing student learning and ensuring graduates are adequately prepared to succeed in the constantly evolving world of work necessitates a recognition that future modes of instructional delivery are likely to blend the very best that face-to-face teaching has to offer with high quality, contemporary digital teaching and learning. 

In this session, we will review and discuss a three-phase process that outlines the transition from primarily face-to-face instruction to more of a blended learning approach. We believe that conceptualizing the transition across three major phases of activity offers a useful model for educational institutions to consider as they prepare for the “new normal” that is already beginning to emerge. 


Phase I: Emergency Remote Teaching 

The realities of COVID-19 necessitated the implementation of online instruction as a means of ensuring at least some degree of instructional delivery continuity as physical campuses were closed and students isolated to curb the transmission of the new coronavirus. What quickly became known as “Emergency Remote Teaching” required institutions to quickly and efficiently ensure that several basic, foundational elements of delivering learning in an online modality were implemented in as timely a manner as possible. Although many educational institutions had previously engaged in a limited amount of digital teaching and learning activities (e.g., offering online courses, enrolling students in degree programs delivered fully online), few institutions were adequately prepared to accelerate the delivery of online learning to all students that COVID-19 required. 

Phase I of the transition process, Emergency Remote Teaching, required educational institutions to: 

  • Identify and implement a synchronous learning technology. 
  • Evaluate student and faculty access to hardware, software, and internet connectivity. 
  • Communicate with all stakeholders to explain the shift to online synchronous instruction. 
  • Deliver virtual training to ensure faculty members’ ability to deliver online synchronous instruction. 


Phase II: Stabilized Faculty and Student Support 

After making the transition to Emergency Remote Teaching, educational institutions quickly encountered the many challenges associated with relying on digital, remote teaching as the sole means of instructional delivery. Faced with issues such as limited faculty experience in online teaching, a lack of virtual student support services, and the absence of robust data analytic tools, many institutions began realizing that sustaining an effective and efficient digital teaching and learning practice requires investments in several key areas, including the following: 

  • Additional faculty training in online teaching 
  • Implementation of virtual student support services 
  • Robust data analytics to evaluate student learning 
  • Analysis and evaluation of academic policies and procedures  
  • Expanded digital teaching and learning capabilities  


Phase III: Blended Learning Integration 

The final phase of the transition from face-to-face instructional delivery to high-quality blended learning requires investing in and mobilizing resources to support the full integration of a blended learning practice. The activities required to master this phase of the transition include: 

  • Implementing a robust LMS solution 
  • Delivering comprehensive faculty training  
  • Increasing instructional design capabilities  
  • Maximizing efficiencies in student services  
  • Identifying the optimal blended learning mix  

During the session, we will discuss the three phases of the transition from face-to-face learning to high-quality blended learning in detail, sharing examples of how various institutions have begun preparing for and executing the transition. The session will conclude with a brief overview of Walden University’s commitment to providing in-kind consultative and advisory support to select educational institutions, as we share with others our experiences and expertise in online and blended learning experiences, bringing our Education for Good™ mission to life.