Director’s Blog

Pandemic Pedagogy: Looking Ahead

by | Jan 25, 2021 | Director's Blog

Well, 2021 arrived with a bang. As things hopefully begin to move in more positive directions, I finally feel like I can start looking ahead to when we return to campus. It’s still a ways off, and there’s plenty of remote teaching ahead of us, but I think it’s important that we reflect on what we have learned during this time and how that can positively influence our future teaching.

Faculty have done an incredible amount of work during this shift, and I’d like to see that work continue to pay off once we’re back in the classroom. So I offer some thoughts for you to consider on post-pandemic pedagogy:

  • How can materials you created during remote teaching (such as videos) continue to play a role post pandemic? Some ideas: lecture videos can be used as homework outside of class. This frees up class time for activities, problem solving, and other active learning strategies. Videos and/or documents can also be converted into robust study guides.
  • What lessons about equity can you take back to your in-person courses? The pandemic really highlighted issues of equity across the student body, so let’s continue the work once we return to campus. Consider the cost of technology, textbooks, and materials, remember the importance of captions on videos, and implement multiple avenues for student engagement. These are just some starting points.
  • How will you communicate with students once we return? Remote teaching taught us a lot about different ways to communicate. Many faculty found that Zoom office hours were convenient for everyone, so I recommend continuing this practice post pandemic. Message boards, chats, and other discussion avenues can also continue to play a role in communication and community building outside of the physical classroom.
  • Will you change how you do assessments? For some faculty, the shift to remote teaching also meant a shift in how students demonstrate their knowledge. While this could be a frustrating situation, it’s possible that new strategies, such as using frequent low-stakes quizzes over one-time giant exams, may have emerged.

It’s also a good time to reflect on what you miss about in-person teaching. For me, this long hiatus from campus has taught me how much I value casual in-person encounters – chatting with faculty before or after events, catching up with colleagues before the start of a meeting, and spontaneous brain storming in the hallways. These encounters and connections disappeared with Zoom. The chance for students to catch you with a question before or after class no longer exists. When we return, I hope to be more intentional about these moments. Instead of rushing from meeting to meeting, I’m going to actively schedule more time in between to make room for these spontaneous check-ins and connections.

In other news…

What I’m currently reading: My goal for 2021 is to read 100 books, and I’ve already finished 12! You can follow me on Goodreads if you want to see my list. One of my favorites from that 12 is a quirky little book called Before the Coffee Gets Cold. In a Japanese coffee shop, there is a seat that allows you to time travel. But there are strict rules, one of which is no matter what you do, you cannot change the outcome of the future. So what’s the point of time travel? The answer is actually very moving.

What I’m currently drinking: Water! My husband and I always do dry January. Though that was really put to the test on the day of the capitol riots…but, like democracy, I prevailed.

Andrea Aebersold

Andrea Aebersold

Director, Faculty Instructional Development

Andrea Aebersold is the Director of Faculty Instructional Development at University of California, Irvine. She earned a PhD in English and was an associate professor of teaching before coming to UCI. She specializes in active learning, evidence-based teaching, and reading mountains of books.