A second shared attribute is gratitude. I want to continue to extend my appreciation and that of the other University leaders for the impressive achievements of our faculty and, now of our students, in your (virtual) classrooms. Many have commented to me how surprised they were at how quickly the U responded and how everyone was on board. This did not come as a surprise to me, as it too is part of our DNA. Resiliency.
As we complete week five of virtual learning, I want to thank you for embracing and finding creative responses to the instructional challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. You are explorers venturing into largely uncharted waters and guided by a sense of purpose and deeply rooted commitment to our students’ educational outcomes, along with your own professional development.
Remember when online learning was going to be a panacea for higher education, freeing up resources and access? The reality has turned out to be a great deal more complex and nuanced. Our current leap into whole scale virtual pedagogy, while temporary in this rushed format, will have profound repercussions on the art of teaching and science of learning. If you have found a silver lining, perhaps even a goldmine, in the virtual execution of lessons, labs, and student assessment, I want to hear from you. This is how we improve and grow as educators, scholars, and researchers.
With the end of the semester rapidly approaching and final class sessions taking place, I ask that you work with students who reach out to you with scheduling concerns and address their individual considerations with flexibility and compassion. Coordinate with your departmental colleagues to help students with multiple tests on the same day. This is a time for empathetic accommodations that strengthen the student’s University of Miami experience and their learning outcomes.
We are currently analyzing the results of the student survey on online instruction, and next week I will share some of the results. In this same vein, while sharing of the end-of-term course reviews/evaluations will be optional for Spring 2020, those faculty who choose to opt-in might gain important insights as they see ways to improve through constructive feedback from their students.
In closing, I want to share a few resources that can help you consider and prepare for your own evolution as an important member of the U. Happy exploring and be well.