In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. ~Eric Hoffer, American Philosopher

The emergency switch from in-person to virtual classes in Spring of 2020 was so abrupt, faculty members hardly had a chance to take a breath and take a good look at common struggles, triumphs and lessons learned during the first 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included faculty members at CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI)’s Extended University.

So, Teaching and Learning Innovations (TLi) and Faculty Development launched a Resilient Teaching campaign in which they surveyed faculty members about their experiences with virtual teaching, and shared those observations in a series of faculty interviews called the Resilient Teaching series.

While classes were still in person, but the COVID-19 pandemic was worsening, Professor of Psychology Virgil Adams, Ph.D., could sense disruption coming, so he tried to prepare his students, build trust, and establish connectedness early on.

“I wanted to assure my students and bring calm for them, and let them know that we’ll make it through,” Adams said. “I’ve already been trained how to teach online, and if it should come to that, we’ll be able to successfully complete the semester.”

As the Spring of 2020 semester came to an end, then-CSU Chancellor White declared early that academic year 2020-2021 would be a year of virtual instruction offered from the physical CSU campuses. Faculty members like English Lecturer Rachael Jordan now had some time to prepare and reflect.

“One really important thing that stands out to me is how the challenges I faced online were the same challenges I faced in the physical classroom,” Jordan said. “I reminded myself that every semester, whether I’m online, in-person, or a mix of both, I have students that struggle to be engaged or who try to make up all of the work at the end—which never ends up working. Good teaching is good teaching and those principles apply no matter the environment.”

Jordan used Canvas learning software to organize her classe modules and remained connected to her students with a variety of communication channels, including personal emails, clear to-do lists and explanatory videos.

TLi created a program called THRIVE to assist faculty members in building virtual courses with nearly 150 faculty members committing to professional development called Teaching for Learning Continuity (T.L.C.) for the approaching academic year.

A common theme among faculty members during the emergency online transition in Spring of 2020 was: “Nothing I did feels innovative.”

But after completing the THRIVE program over the summer of 2020, faculty members like Psychology Lecturer Barbara Thayer, Ph.D., were able to assess how well their swift construction of online classes worked.

“I wasn't sure that what I built last year was good, frankly,” Thayer said. “It was great to be able to go through it and look at it critically and decide if it was good enough, using a more experienced eye...now with a year behind me, what do I think? Well, I'm rather surprised — I actually think it's pretty good!”

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