More than 100 UO faculty responded to the survey that asked about their remote teaching experiences: one thing they’d learned or done well, what else they need, and any general concerns about remote instruction. A detailed report of the results will be shared with the Office of the Provost and Academic Council—we thank faculty for these insights.
This summary provides glimpses into what this profound, challenging experience has meant to our teaching community and attempts to directly connect articulated needs to resources. We will continue to build teaching support efforts with faculty survey responses in mind.
Points of pride
Many faculty expressed pride in what they’ve been able to accomplish so far, especially the ways they’d created community, mastered new tools, organized their courses, and made adjustments along the way. Some identified practices they would carry into their face to face courses.
Colleagues write: “Showing empathy to students during this time really seems to make a difference”; “I’ve created a highly structured, organized but flexible learning environment. I’ve learned you can create community even in a large enrollment online course”; I’ve learned “how to use breakout rooms efficiently and establish protocols for speaking and exchanging information in Zoom class meetings.[…] I’ve reached out to every individual student and created video messages to students to check in and leave video feedback on their assignments”; “I have given myself permission to explore new ways of teaching, knowing that it may not always go smoothly.”
Care for Students
We learned from more than 1500 student survey responses that remote learning works best when faculty are flexible, organized, provide opportunities for interaction, and are reasonable about student workloads. Several faculty zeroed in on how they meet these needs.
About flexibility, one colleague writes:
Relaxing my late work policy has made students less anxious, has allowed them to adapt to emergencies, has kept the emails to a minimum, and has not changed my grading flow or the quality of submissions. I don’t think I’ll be going back to the old policy.
Organization and structure are key to many colleagues’ approaches, and some shared ways they’ve sharpened this as they go:
Structure. I think it’s easy to underestimate this, but I hear from students how confusing it is to have different courses working in different, and sometimes not-very-transparent ways. I put everything on Canvas; have consistent, repeated, predictable deadlines (e.g., every Sunday); cues and reminders about what is due and when everywhere (in my videos, my live meetings, announcements, and embedded in assignments is information about what to do next). Clear and predictable structure enables everything else, because it frees up students’ attention to focus on class material, connections with me and classmates, etc
I learned that my students were not understanding how to navigate the class, despite it being spelled out in the syllabus, in an email, and in other documents in Canvas. After a week, only half the class had read the syllabus. I learned that my information-overloaded students needed a much clearer focus from the beginning, so I did a do-over, taking them through each step of the class navigation and course details one at a time and requiring them to complete each task chronologically before they could unlock the next. Some students don’t like this, but many have said they prefer it because it has kept them focused and on track — plus, unlocking content is rewarding.
Nearly half (48%) of all faculty comments focused on students, including concern for the quality of the student experience, students’ wellbeing, how to best engage and connect with students in classes, and students’ academic success.
I have put in the extra effort to individually contact students (even though I have 150-person class) who have missed an early assignment or something, to make sure they’re not falling behind because of tech issues, or illness at home, etc… In almost every case, I’ve gotten a grateful email in response – and also some descriptions of real challenges in the students’ lives (phones/computers broken, wifi slow because of multi-family member usage, car breakdowns, etc…)
The students are learning a new way to learn—in the middle of a pandemic. There is cognitive exhaustion. I have reduced the amount content I can teach because they are burdened. I worry it won’t be good enough, despite all the hours I am putting in.
Extraordinary investments and uncertainty
For faculty themselves, the experience has been intense and, as suggested above, enormously time consuming (24% of all comments). It’s been a “herculean challenge to not just adapt to remote teaching, but to keep adapting,” one colleague writes, speaking for many. Faculty are working harder than ever on their teaching and are uncertain about the future—one writing that job security concerns hang “heavy on me as I work from dawn to dusk every day trying to maintain.”
Many faculty miss students and one another:
I am a person who loves to interact with the students up close, to see the spark in their eyes as they begin to understand something, and to guide someone who needs extra coaching.
I really am beginning to miss the collegiality of being on campus with other faculty and staff, where it was easy to drop in for 10 or 15 minutes to share a laugh or even just a giant eye roll. We’ve been so busy just getting to this point that there has hardly been the time to be social, but I began to realize this weekend how much of a toll that takes.
Teaching Support Needs
A significant portion (28% of respondents) need additional hardware, especially computers, monitors, and mics, and they need better connectivity. Faculty want solutions for students to be able to share and annotate in real-time drawings and computations.
A handful of faculty mentioned the need for more ergonomically sound work spaces. One writes
Working at my dining room table is not ideal ergonomically or socially. But, I ordered a standing desk this week that should help my aches and pains from the first few weeks going forward. While I realize this isn’t directly related to remote teaching, my physical and mental wellbeing have a strong correlation to my success in the classroom (virtual or otherwise).
Several faculty offered kind praise for the support they’d received from UO Online, TEP, Information Services, and UO Libraries—”UO support for both technology and pedagogy (e.g. through TEP) has been excellent.” Others highlighted additional needs, especially early support on course design and models/examples.
Faculty expressed interest in guides for how to manage class in Zoom and for people to monitor Zoom sessions and questioned the security of Zoom recordings. A handful of faculty expressed a need for larger Canvas storage capacity and frustration at slow uploads, especially of student work.
Some faculty desired different policies from the administration and Academic Council on attendance and exam proctoring, clarity for students at the point of registration about synchronous/asynchronous expectations, consistent messaging to students to calibrate expectations about remote learning, and more support for students’ study skills/time management. Several faculty desired more attention from central administration on the work faculty have put in, particularly on the longer term impacts to research productivity and the impacts of job insecurity.
Hardware and Connectivity:
- Request a mic or iPad here.
- Faculty and GEs with connectivity challenges should check these resources; if these won’t work for you, some MiFi units are available via the UO Service Portal MiFi Device page.
- If you need hardware or other materials from your office, please submit a building access request for remote teaching form.
Students and faculty can access a Virtual Computer Lab to access software for most classes, including the Adobe Creative Cloud.
UO Safety and Risk Services provides resources to support healthy work spaces including its ergonomics webpage and these worksheets on remote workstation safety and digital screens. Faculty and GEs can use this form to request a remote assessment of your workstation or access to Ergopoint, a web-based training and self-assessment program that helps ensure furniture and computer hardware are adjusted to proper heights and positions.
Physical Materials from UO Libraries Collection
The UO Libraries are providing both physical pickup locations (Knight Library Pickup Window, Law Library for law materials) and home delivery services of general collection materials for faculty and students. Materials can be returned either via the Knight Library book drops or via mail. Faculty and students can also request scans of portions (no more than 20%) of printed material. For more information email email@example.com, or contact the library’s chat reference service.
Your Canvas course site has limited storage capacity. If you’ve been uploading media directly into Canvas, without using Panopto, you may find yourself running out of space. See Managing Course Files and Managing Media Files for more information.
Student Academic Support
Tutoring and academic support is available remotely through the Tutoring and Academic Engagement Center. Consider highlighting these resources broadly through Canvas or directly referring individual students. The TAEC provides drop-in math, science, language and writing support, supplemental instruction and asynchronous Online Writing Lab.
Information about What Students Are Experiencing
A thematically organized summary of more that 1500 student surveys is available.
Answers for Specific Teaching Questions
TEP and UO Online are eager to field questions and respond quickly to queries:
- This form connects you to TEP.
- UO Online is reachable by phone and email: 541-346-1942, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching Examples from Colleagues
About thirty-five faculty and GEs share concrete strategies for how to manage office hours, deepen interpersonal connection, assess student learning, and show care in a crisis (part one) and, new this week, part two.
Help Monitoring Zoom Sessions
Faculty who want a helping hand with real-time Zoom classroom management can identify a student “Zoom assistant” from within the course to receive a 30-minute training from Information Services to help scan for raised hands, monitor chat, and assist with features like breakout rooms, screen sharing, polling, and white boards.
Lesson plans, Ideas for Leading Zoom Sessions to Replicate Classroom Activities
See our Remote Active Learning post. UO Online offers ideas for making Zoom work for your pedagogy. Samples of how to “chunk” synchronous activities in Zoom coming soon.
Advice about Exams
TEP/UO Online offer ideas for structuring reviews and designing exams for the remote environment, as well as step-by-step guidance for creating Canvas exams. Note that students have difficulty planning their time during tests when they cannot view the whole exam at once. You can help them by including an overview of the exam structure in the directions and, with each question, giving an estimate of the time the question should take.
Student Wellbeing Resources
- If you’re worried about the health or wellbeing of a student, you can submit a Community Care and Support Form through the Dean of Students website.
- If a student isn’t engaging in class, or their participation drops off, please reach out to them directly to convey care and concern. When a student is unresponsive or needs academic support, please notify the Office of Academic Advising at email@example.com and an advisor will provide further outreach.
- Students who are experiencing financial crisis can apply for support funds via the Dean of Students website.
- The University Counseling Center offers teletherapy services for students in Oregon, California, Colorado, and Texas. Students can still access in-person drop-in and other mental health services in the University Health, Counseling, and Testing Center building. Students with questions about options for mental health support should call the Counseling Center at 541-346-3227. The same phone number also functions as an after-hours crisis and support line for all UO students regardless of location. See University Counseling Center for more information.
- A comprehensive guide to student resources is found at remote.uoregon.edu.
Faculty Wellbeing Resources
UO contracts with Cascade Centers, Inc. to provide a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for benefit-eligible employees and their dependents. The services are provided at no cost to eligible members.
COMING SOON: TEP and UO Online are working on a “Remote Course Builder” that streamlines advice and offers adaptable policies and modules. We will be inviting summer faculty to workshops this term. Updates available on or before May 8.