Transitioning to online learning

From Sue Doe, Professor of English, Colorado State University, ’75

I direct the writing program at Colorado State University. We have managed a successful transition to totally online delivery of our courses and all administrative functions. For me, this has meant that the 65 instructors and 35 graduate teaching assistants I oversee needed to move their writing courses online in the space of less than a week–and that week happened to be spring break. They DID it and thus far things are running pretty smoothly. I’m especially happy to report that we are showing individualized awareness of the 5,000 students who are taking our writing classes this semester.

A significant percentage of them left campus and went home to places that do not have Internet access, much less an individual laptop for every student. We are getting our lesson plans, assignments, etc. to them the old-fashioned way–through the U.S. Postal Service–and are running classes for those students more like a correspondence course. We also have teachers conducting teacher-student conferences on ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, and by phone. One graduate teaching assistant conducted 30 individuals conferences by phone on Wednesday, our first day online. Other faculty are creating videos of their lectures and incorporating lots of meaningful activities. They are showing great ingenuity, resourcefulness, and flexibility.

So this is a shout out to all the K-12 and college teachers who are doing this kind of thing. In this moment I hope we are developing a new appreciation for teaching and teachers, just as we are realizing the amazing sacrifice of our doctors and nurses, as well as the crucial importance of facts and science to understanding pandemic. In a day when science and knowledge itself have been much under attack, I feel renewed hope that as a culture we are seeing how important knowledge is and how important the teachers are who make the construction of knowledge possible.

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