Adapting services to support the University of Florida’s nearly 6,000 faculty and 57,000 students in a remote teaching environment in the span of a single week required a deep dedication to instructional excellence, commitment to collaboration, and a willingness to try something new.
While we remain far from “business as usual,” and while we cannot ignore the wide-ranging and heartbreaking impacts of the pandemic, we can acknowledge and express gratitude for our colleagues in these tough times.
Educational support staff are accustomed to developing creative solutions and flexible approaches to unique teaching challenges. They are not accustomed to working exceptionally long hours while also acting as caregivers, delivering K-12 curricula to their children, and sharing domestic work environments (including WiFi!) with their families. Their willingness and ability to persevere in unprecedented circumstances reflects their dedication to the institution’s faculty and, by extension, students.
Staff from the University of Florida’s Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for Online and Innovative Production, the Warrington College of Business Teaching and Learning Center, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Center for Online Learning and Technology, and the UFIT Center for Instructional Technology and Training and e-Learning Support team – along with instructional designers from around campus – have deepened and strengthened collaborative connections to provide exceptional support to faculty across the institution. Direct outreach, workshops, webinars, consultations, instructional design support, self-service guides, and just-in-time training are among the strategies leveraged to support the immediate transition online in Spring 2020 and the continued delivery of scheduled courses online for Summer A, B, and C semesters.
Emergency remote teaching has required that everyone – students, faculty, staff, and administrators – explore the boundaries of their comfort with technology and pedagogy. The response has helped all of us deepen our appreciation of the intersections of technology with the education mission of the institution as well as technology’s ability to extend and expand the traditional classroom.