Supporting Academic Continuity by Building Community


In the initial rush to remote instruction during COVID-19, educators focused on technologies to ensure academic continuity and relied on instructional technology teams to teach them how to use them. Soon after, instructors turned to educational development professionals for more comprehensive help to rethink face-to-face pedagogy to fit the affordances and constraints of online teaching. Historically, our Faculty Development Center (FDC) had focused primarily on pedagogical support for face-to-face classes. During the crisis, we needed both to re-envision our work to support remote instruction and distinguish our work from that of our in- structional technology colleagues. We also needed to re-evaluate our work in two other areas of our mission: pedagogical research and assessment of student learning outcomes. We recognized that a key goal of our FDC’s work provided a guiding principle in the new situation: to build faculty community around teaching and learning. Although faculty needed instruction and solutions for teaching online, they also needed a venue to think through the existential change in their teaching practice and the multiple challenges and choices they faced. In this paper, we discuss our three-pronged approach to build a vibrant, virtual faculty community: provide a sense of continuity through our offerings and services; prioritize program content to meet immediate needs; and promote complementarity between our support and that of instructional technology. Our efforts resulted in significantly expanding our reach, renewing the culture of inquiry around teaching among our faculty, and refining and reinforcing our role as complementary to, but distinct from, instructional technology.