The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered practical and philosophical concerns related to online learning. The Graduate Remote Instruction Innovation Fellows Program (GRIIF) helped my instruction transitioning from an emergency approach (Spring 2020) to a more deliberate and structured one (Fall 2020). The use of the “Zoom University” platform in the second half of the Spring 2020 semester frustrated students with an overload of online assignments and lectures and distracting study spaces. The Fall 2020 semester had to be planned ahead, and the GRIIF program helped develop an outstanding online learning experience for our student community. In my class, I aim to create multiple channels of engagement so that students can participate regardless of time zone differences and technology set-ups. Since I am committed to advancing diversity and equity in education, the GRIIF program helped me minimize the digital divide by creating multiple opportunities for every voice to be heard.
I maintain that technology can augment and facilitate teaching excellence (I have often used Piazza and Twitter in addition to bCourses to increase students’ engagement). In the GRIIF program, I learnt i) to master the spaces of online learning to maximize our interactions with the students and between students; ii) to set up a virtual environment where resources (interactive videos, chatrooms, discussions, role-playing) and materials (syllabus, readings, tests, assignments) are best suited for the remote learning environment; and iii) about best practices in remote pedagogical approach, and apply them to the course needs. The aim is to guarantee equity in access, participation, and grading through flexible assignments, deadlines, and overall schedule to accommodate the different needs, cultures, and technology set-ups of the upcoming 50+ undergrad students.