Recap: Advice From Students: Post-Secondary in the Age of COVID-19

July 30, 2020

On July 30, 2020, we were joined by more than 170 students, faculty, administrators and members of the public from across BC and Canada. Leaders and key online administrators from eleven institutions attended in a witnessing capacity, accepting the responsibility to take what we heard back into their work. 

The feedback from students was then broken down into themes and the following four calls to action were identified to better inform the structure and development of the upcoming fall semester. By including students in the conversation, we can be assured their experience and feedback are included in the process. The following themes that were identified include; stronger crisis support, realistic assesments and marking, pandemic-friendly content and delivery, and transparent consistent communication. 

There is a slide deck that can be downloaded and shared widely, which is accessible below.

Stronger Crisis Support

  • Build community guidelines with your class to create safety. Create mutual understanding emphasizing flexibility, forgiveness and patience.
  • Recognize that International students face additional bureaucracy and challenges. Acknowledge time zones, access to materials and other considerations when schedulinglectures and exams.
  • Don’t make BIPOC shoulder the burden of explaining their embodied traumas in order to get resources. Get training to support these students.
  • Professors are often a space for disclosure, seek out mental health crisis response training. 

Realistic Assessments & Marking

  • Think about ways you can decolonize your syllabus and ways of assessment that respect students rights and needs in this time. 
  • Pare down and be explicit aboutexpectations around assessments and online exams, some things don’ttranslate directly to an online context. 
  • A pass/fail option is sometimes the best option.
  • Always make instructions clear: be specific about what is being graded and what is for participation.

Pandemic-Friendly Content and Delivery

  • Keep investing in support and training for professors and students to navigate online learning.
  • Accept that online learning is different and make decisions about what can realistically be expected with virtual learning during a crisis. 
  • Mix asynchronous and synchronous learning to help students navigate the constraints of a global crisis. 
  • Students want more pre-recordedlectures, live chat rooms, zoom classes, dialogue tutorials and lessons that go beyond just presentations. 

Transparent Consistent Communication

  • Be clear and transparent from dayone to grade submission day. Share what makes you nervous about teaching online and explain the thinking behind your syllabus decisions.
  • Create time for questions about written instructions. Email isn’t always the best medium. 
  • Respect the value of anonymousfeedback and use it throughout the course to improve teaching. Share success stories with others. 
  • Ask students if your online alternatives for in-person student-to-student work is actually working. Ask students for new ideas if what you are doing is not adding value for them.
  • We need earlier transparency about what’s going on with the next semester, even as it develops.
  • Communication between faculty and institution may be insufficient, let's be honest about what we don’t know.