Support educators with online teaching during COVID-19

Support educators with online teaching during COVID-19

– Anna CohenMiller is an Assistant Professor from Nazarbayev University’s Graduate School of Education and Co-Founding Director of The Consortium of Gender Scholars (Kazakhstan)

The Higher Ed Learning Collective started as a way to bring educators together to confront a worldwide crisis affecting education, the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a while, I had been looking to collect ideas and provide solutions to teaching during the global crisis.

The Collective brought educators together into one virtual space – first in the United States and then worldwide – collaborating to solve each other’s problems.

Educators needed help with online teaching as COVID-19 spread globally

It began as a Facebook group that John Broome, an education professor at the University of Mary Washington, Virginia, created on 11 March 2020 as a way of responding to the sudden need for educators to teach online.

After Broome started reaching out to others, I immediately jumped on board to work with him to create pedagogically sound and culturally aware solutions for teaching and learning.

This Collective has brought together educators from across the US and Kazakhstan; institutions which provide insight into pedagogically-focused and research-based places of higher education, including Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, University of Southern California, University of South Florida, the State University of New York at New Paltz, Randolph College, Fullerton College, San Diego City College, Southern New Hampshire University, University of California Riverside, College of Charleston, Augusta University, Delta State University, and Indiana University, Bloomington. 

Through this group, people around the globe shared their concerns, solutions, and resources with one another. In a few short weeks, it grew to over 25,500 members from more than 100 different countries.

Higher education ‘will need to change’

While the Collective was initially looking to address the pandemic, it is much bigger than that.

Higher education has regularly been identified as having many issues; discussions on ways to make higher education more equitable, how to make teaching more relevant, and how to educate the latest generations for jobs and lives of the future.

Yet, as a whole, institutions of higher education haven’t been able to make those changes yet.

Suddenly, with this devastating pandemic, there’s an opportunity to openly discuss, worldwide, what we as higher education professionals can do to improve and change for the better.

Also, by supporting educators, students directly benefit.

Likewise, we now have many students who are eagerly joining the Collective to share their own concerns and ideas, as well as learning about best practices to use within their future work.

Universities and colleges won’t go back to the way things were prior to the pandemic, so higher education will need to change.

The Higher Ed Learning Collective is providing the solutions currently missing from the conversation.

The COVID-19 crisis, for education, has created a necessity to do things different, to rethink and regroup as educators. We’re changing the discussion, facilitating essential steps to make higher education a place for all.

We have also applied to become a non-profit organisation, have training modules developed, establish systems for connecting expertise and mentorship internationally, and are launching two peer-reviewed open-access periodicals.

Moving forward, the Collective will most definitely remain.

Pic: Perry Grone

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