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A Web Letter from the Office of the Provost - March 2020

By Eric Bender

Teaching and Learning

Mission: Transition 5,000+ courses in less than two weeks

Transitioning more than 5,000 traditional face-to-face courses to alternative instructional delivery is certainly a massive undertaking by any measure. But according to Chantal Levesque-Bristol, executive director of the Center for Instructional Excellence, Purdue’s established innovative learning approach provided the leverage to meet the challenge in record time.

“The established teamwork that has proven effective in IMPACT and Innovative Learning projects really gave us the infrastructure to ramp up our unified efforts to support the university during this immense challenge,” said Levesque-Bristol. “We were able to hit the ground running because we are used to working together on common goals and vision, organizing very quickly and engaging people in the various units to take advantage of their diverse expertise.”

A Tiger Team and several multi-disciplinary teams comprised of experts from the Center for Instructional Excellence, Teaching and Learning Technologies, the Innovative Learning Team, the Libraries and more have collaborated on the Learning Remotely, Teaching Remotely and Working Remotely websites as well as reviewing the readiness of courses to be offered remotely and staffing ongoing walk-in consultations in the WALC and remote consulting drop-in sessions via WebEx.

“We worked with instructors who are now confident they have the ability to go online and teach and also help their colleagues, because of the help that our instructional design experts have been able to provide,” she said. “It was reassuring to me to know that we've prepared people for this unprecedented situation.”

Levesque-Bristol adds that Purdue is leading the way for its peers by consulting and sharing resources with institutions such as MSU, UM, Maryland, Wayne State, Adrian, Utah State, Colorado, UT Austin.

As always in these situations, Levesque-Bristol says there are plenty of learning opportunities.

“Many of us are learning new skills as we go through this process — many of the skills around technology we’ve learned how to use for the first time, or became better at using,” she says.  

Also, since a major tool for the transition is the online Learning Management System, the team  has learned to be flexible and creative as they support instructors whose technology experience ranges from limited to highly skilled.

While the initial launch to remote learning is complete, the CIE and IL teams will continue to meet daily with Senior Vice Provost Frank Dooley and plan to continue to offer/work on the following: 

  • Continue virtual drop-in sessions for instructors.
  • Continue to create how-to videos for the frequently asked questions faculty are wondering about.
  • Curate podcasts that share faculty and student stories.
  • Listen to feedback from instructors and brainstorm ways to continually improve the resources already created.

Levesque-Bristol says Purdue is fortunate to have such talented and dedicated faculty and staff who stepped up to meet the challenge.

“I am most proud of the way everyone rallied together to meet this unprecedented challenge,” she said. “The team performed admirably and embodied what a team truly can be when we work towards a collective, challenging and audacious goal, bringing our individual strengths to the table when the situation warrants it, and knowing when to step back when we are not needed or our skills are not required for the situation.” 

A partial list of units that participated in the transition can be found here.

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