As instructors and their students emerge from the pandemic and return to in-person learning, the Every Learner Everywhere network has released two resources that put the holistic needs of students and their instructors at the center. The Caring for Students Playbook and Optimizing High-Quality Digital Learning Experiences: A Playbook for Faculty will serve as essential tools for instructors who want to enhance and optimize the digital learning experiences they create for their students while providing student care supports. APLU helped lead development of both resources.
The Caring for Students Playbook provides practical recommendations, concrete strategies, and resources to support instructors in operationalizing equity-focused, inclusive teaching strategies that put student care into practice. The impetus for the playbook was the COVID-19 pandemic, but the information and resources provided represent high standards of student support regardless of the environment.
Optimizing High-Quality Digital Learning Experiences is a timely update to the Every Learner Everywhere network’s most viewed and downloaded resource. It reflects student and faculty feedback from remote teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic that revealed a growing digital equity gap. This Playbook is a call-to-action for faculty to focus on optimizing the quality of digital learning experiences, especially for minoritized students.
“As our institutions gear up to serve students on campus, we encourage faculty to continue to leverage and improve what they did with digital tools during COVID-19,” said Karen Vignare, Ph.D., Vice President, Digital Transformation for Student Success & Executive Director, of the Personalized Learning Consortium (PLC) at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). “Digital learning can be used on campus to improve equitable outcomes and help us all be ready if there is a need to return to the fully online environment.”
Caring for Students features detailed recommendations divided into six sections:
Caring for Students will be released with a supplemental Getting Started With Key Terms and Challenges resource. The guide will provide additional information and resources surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion; academic, financial, and socio-economic challenges for students; culturally responsive teaching; trauma-informed teaching; and universal design for learning.
“In this moment in time, educators are uniquely poised to address endemic challenges of inequity that have been prevalent within higher education well before the pandemic,” said Angela Gunder, Chief Academic Officer for the Online Learning Consortium, a partner in authoring both resources. “These two resources from the Every Learner Everywhere network provide actionable approaches and methods to support the success of all learners through sustainable, equitable, and quality digital learning pedagogy.”
“As instructors and their students emerge from the pandemic and find a new ‘normal’ in how higher education is delivered, these guides can help instructors as they continue working to meet their students where they are, understand their challenges, connect them with resources, and provide them with flexible learning opportunities,” shared Jessica Rowland Williams, Ph.D., Director of Every Learner Everywhere.
Likewise, the updated Optimizing High-Quality Digital Learning Experiences: A Playbook for Faculty reflects the needs of students and faculty as they transition back to in-person learning and hybrid instruction models. It is designed to help faculty make the shift toward thinking and designing strategically so they may amplify the opportunities the online environment provides to both their digital spaces and physical classrooms. The playbook aims to assist faculty in integrating these practices to meet the learning needs of students through effective digital course design and teaching strategies.
“We are increasingly seeing the need to support faculty – full-time and part-time – as they take the lead in classroom innovations to create more equitable learning environments for their students,” said Karen Stout, Ed.D., President and CEO of Achieving the Dream (ATD). “Our hope is that educators will implement the strategies in these playbooks and that their institutions will provide them with the time and space they need to take risks as they test new approaches in service of student success.”
Caring for Students is a collaboration among Achieving the Dream, The Online Learning Consortium, and Every Learner Everywhere, while Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The Online Learning Consortium, and Every Learner Everywhere collaborated on Optimizing High-Quality Digital Learning Experiences: A Playbook for Faculty. To download the resources or learn more about Every Learner Everywhere and its collaborative approach to equitize higher education through digital learning, visit everylearnereverywhere.org.