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The Virtual Nest

Where good ideas come to roost.

By Haley Murphy, Online Program Development manager, Online Learning

June 2, 2021

Student leaning against Colorado Convention Center window near the Blue Bear.Welcome to the third article in a new Early Bird series presented by Online Learning: the Virtual Nest. Published twice monthly, the Virtual Nest highlights strong practices, emerging research, professional-development opportunities and more.

Resource highlight: Every Learner Everywhere

Every Learner Everywhere advocates for equitable outcomes in U.S. higher education through advances in digital learning. The organization’s mission is to help institutions use new technology to innovate in teaching and learning, with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes for Black, Latinx and Indigenous students, poverty-affected students and first-generation students.

Check out the Designing for Equity tool kits and resources to help you apply inclusive design to your course with equity at the center. Sign up for email updates here.

Online course design

Read: Improving Critical Courses Using Digital Learning and Evidence-based Pedagogy (Every Learner Everywhere)
The guide features numerous resources that academic administrators can draw from to effectively support a sustainable, continuously improving teaching and learning environment.

Online instruction and pedagogy

Attend: Educational Equity Through Digital Learning workshop (Every Learner Everywhere)
This free eight-week virtual summer workshop addresses equity in digital learning through evidence-based teaching practices, differentiated instruction and courseware. Faculty members will participate in synchronous sessions with national leaders; peer discussions to expand perspective and foster meaningful connections; and professional coaching sessions to identify a teaching goal and endeavor to meet it through personalized support. Apply here.

Online recruitment, retention and strategy

Read: 4 Strategies Universities Must Adopt to Build Education Resiliency (Coursera)
As educators continue to develop the best solutions to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, they are also identifying learning approaches and strategies that can be beneficial for universities today and in the future.

Read: Reimagining Real Life: Recreating Campus Life, Online (Volt)
How colleges can foster the social-emotional connections of on-campus life in online programs.

Online tools and technologies

Read: 73 Percent of Students Prefer Some Courses Be Fully Online Post-Pandemic (Campus Technology)
When 75% of students and more than half of faculty members want to experience at least some courses fully online, the key takeaway is that the pandemic did not threaten (but in fact accelerated) the long-term growth, acceptance and desirability of online learning – and those numbers will only improve as emergency remote offerings are rebuilt as modern online courses and programs.

Read: The Impact of OER (The Tech Edvocate)
A large-scale study conducted at the University of Georgia discovered that students who received free course materials at the beginning of a class produced much higher academic results than those who did not. When the results (before and after) were compared, it was concluded that changing to Open Educational Resources increased the quantity of A and A-minus letter-grade results by 5.5% and 7.73%, respectively.

Deep dives

Read: Pursuing Regulatory Compliance for Digital Instruction in Response to Covid-19 (Every Learner Everywhere)
Regardless of whether institutions reopen for face-to-face instruction, navigating the complex web of federal, state and accreditation regulations will be critical, as will educating faculty and staff on the importance of these regulations as a means of ensuring quality. Ensuring that institutions follow the associated regulations improves pedagogy, protects the institution from loss of financial-aid eligibility and/or accreditation and bolsters educational quality. Used with Delivering High-Quality Instruction Online in Response to Covid-19: Faculty Playbook, instructors and administrators have an overview of the most critical pedagogical and regulatory concerns surrounding online-education quality and student success.

Topics: Academics, Best practices, Excellence, Online Learning

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