Change Your Mindset: Alternative Perspectives to Remote Learning

AACTE Responds to COVID-19

Like most of you, I got the email from our president one afternoon last week expressing that our institution was transitioning to remote learning. Instantly, my heart dropped and a zillion thoughts started running through my head. How will I ensure my students get a good experience? What about all my interactive learning experiences? What if my student doesn’t have access to the internetHow am I going to do this?”

After a little reflection, I realized we tell our students not to panic when we assign them a task or assignment that to them seems unforeseeable (the first time they’ve written a 20-page paper or presented for 30 whole minutes). Moving to remote learning may seem unforeseeable to you.  However, I urge you to take a breath. Instead of panicking or being irritated, consider an alternative perspective:

This is a chance to try something new. You can take advantage of this unique opportunity. There are dozens of online platforms that have generously offered services for free to support students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve been desperate to try these platforms but I have not had the time or the financial resources. Personally, I love instructional technology. The past few days I have been like a kid in a candy shop. I cannot wait to explore these pedagogical tools. Consider going back through your emails and pick one to try. Maybe it will rejuvenate you!

I’m up for the challenge. Are you? For many of us, remote learning is completely flipping the tables. This experience, if only for a few weeks, will push many of us outside our traditional comfort zone. However, don’t we expect to challenge our students with our pedagogy and content? Isn’t it a good thing when we provide them with new and unique experiences that challenge their traditional thought processes? You may have never thought it was possible to teach your course content online. Now, you have no choice. Are you up for the challenge? I hope so. Because now it’s our turn to critically think and problem solve. It’s our turn be good examples and show our students we don’t back down from a challenge.

Be Flexible. As we transition to remote learning, there are going to be several technological glitches. I tested out three virtual platforms today trying to determine the pros and cons. When I finally selected one, I offered a test session for my students to explore the platform so they would feel comfortable during synchronous learning opportunities. But, then the platform failed; there was no sound and I could not share my screen. I was bummed, but my students were gracious and flexible. If we want students to give us the benefit of the doubt, we should extend the same grace and flexibility to them.  This is going to be a journey for all of us. Let’s find the victories in the successes.

Again, instead of panicking I hope you will consider one of these alterative perspectives. I wish you the best of luck in navigating these remote waters. You can do it. We are in this together.

Jennie Carr is associate professor of education and elementary education program coordinator at Bridgewater College.