Date: Sunday, March 29, 2020
Subject: Thank you
As we get closer to April 6th, it is inspiring to hear of students and faculty initiatives that put the well-being of others first. The many faces of exemplary service are a reminder why this aspect of our work is as important as teaching and research. There is a unity of purpose strengthening LUMS values of caring, inclusiveness and generosity. Please join me to thank and congratulate our colleagues and students for their seen and unseen acts of selflessness and initiative.
I want to also acknowledge the anxiety and fear that we are all coming to terms with. One question we face collectively is the role each of us can play to complete this semester.
Together we face the challenge of teaching and working online. The Ped-Tech Committee has done excellent work to collect data, make really sound, process decisions. You will soon receive relevant links, visual media, short videos, etc. The challenge to adopt “best practice” for online instruction implies “changing practice”. Here, allow me to share a few lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn in my role as a teacher.
There is no shortage of best practices out there including 8 succinct and excellent articles offered by one of the most respectable and widely read magazine – The Chronical of Higher Education on “Coping With Coronavirus” (attached).
Despite the great suggestions, it isn’t clear to me how instructors will use these ideas to answer questions they are probably thinking about. For example, how do I redesign my remaining assessments? How do I truly demonstrate flexibility? How am I to conduct a zoom session that will result in meaningful discussions? How do I exercise extra care, empathy and compassion to students who are now more vulnerable than ever before? Who is going to support me to navigate through the hundreds of micro-decisions that come to mind?
The good news is that we are not alone. There is great power in learning from our peers. Just as we advocate peer learning for students who have clearly defined tasks, the same applies to colleagues who share similar goals to plan, organize and evaluate student learning. We aren’t starting with new students but already know them.
We also know that change is accelerated in small groups within a network that becomes interdependent. In other words, don’t tackle your challenge alone. Find someone who is keen to problem solve or work with you. Also, positive change is synonymous with building trust. In short, change happens when we work with small peer-groups who trust each other.
I encourage you to take advantage of the new resources that have been developed under the guidance of the Ped-Tech team. We are excited to announce that several faculty have signed up to share effective techniques, practices, and approaches they use in their own courses that apply to online instruction across disciplines. A series of online assessment and teaching sessions will be offered via webinars and/or Zoom during the week of March 30th. (Schedule to follow soon).
Thank you for reading this long note. I am extremely proud that colleagues are coming together and have been so generous with their time, support and care to help each other move forward.