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Online Mountaineer: Inside the Online Classroom

Use of Technology in Online Learning: What Can Students Expect?

October 01, 2020

Woman at her desk working on a computer.

Remote Learning

The educational landscape is changing. In fact, it’s always changing. However, the impact of COVID-19 made those changes happen more swiftly and more noticeably. In March 2020 all learning at WVU shifted to what our Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) calls “emergency remote teaching.”

What is emergency remote teaching? According to Tracey Beckley, Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning, emergency remote teaching is temporary, but adequate, to meet the course requirements during a time of crisis. It is more about instructional continuity than instructional design, and it may not effectively include the recommended kinds of engagement we expect to see in online courses.

“The best thing for any academic institution to do when faced with this in the middle of a semester is to provide a solution that allows all students to continue learning and to achieve the course outcomes,” she says.

This was accomplished in the spring and summer of 2020 by the use of technology, including live and recorded video, live chat, computer-based learning and various online resources.

As we move into the fall semester, “emergency remote teaching” has ended, but students will still have the opportunity to choose distance education courses or online learning in many cases.

Distance Education

How does distance education differ from emergency remote learning?

“Distance education courses are deliberately designed with all three types of engagement in a course – student engagement with content, student engagement with the instructor, and student engagement with other students,” Beckley says. “It is an intentional delivery of course content and activities via technologies that are selected with the course learning objectives in mind.”

Beckley says it is important for students to know that WVU is committed to supporting and delivering quality instructional content, whether it is in-person, online, or a combination of the two, called “hybrid.”

Faculty, students and staff will continue to explore new and emerging technologies in the Teaching and Learning Commons. “We really want to empower all who teach at WVU,” Beckley says. “Even in the most normal of times, we provide professional development to help faculty offer students the best educational experience – regardless of modality. Now more than ever, we are leveraging everything from strategic partnerships across campus to academic technologies like VoiceThread to engage instructors and learners in the future of learning.” Collaboration between departments such as the TLC Classroom Technology unit and WVU’s ITS Networking and Facilities will allow for streaming and/or lecture capture capabilities to WVU’s general-purpose classrooms on campus.

Beckley says that while the pandemic forced some WVU faculty and students to experience an online learning environment in an emergent way, it has really been an opportunity to explore new options. Now, with a renewed appreciation for what we can achieve in difficult times, we look toward a future that will include continued challenges, extended partnerships, and educational growth.

First, Your Degree Online. We are committed to the journey selected by each student.

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