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The Problem with Thinking “After COVID”

By Paul Dagnall

There is a common sentiment in COVID-era higher ed that if we muddle through and do the best we can, everything will eventually go back to normal; Once we survive this, we can get back to providing the optimized learning experiences University of Dayton students expect.

And that is a problem. Too much looking to the future at the expense of the present.

Here’s the reality. Imagine the second-year students that had to transition home last spring or the first-year students in your classes right now. So much of their college experience, those critical four years, has been and will continue to be spent in COVID-mode. Now imagine the upper-classmen - preparing for their next steps in life, finishing their degrees online amidst a pandemic.

The weight of this is too great for instructors to have an attitude of “just survive”. This is all these students get. This is their college experience. Their tuition expense deserves better than just muddling through.

Our attitude should be one of positivity and determination. We need to embrace the challenge and refuse to deliver anything but a world-class student experience!

This isn't easy. The students didn’t ask for this. You didn't ask for this either and it's requiring a lot of work and adjustment to make it through, but we must, and how we approach it makes all the difference.

Attitude is everything!

Tell your students your course is going to be better than ever in the blended format and then resolve to make it happen. We’ve heard reports that students are struggling more this year than in past years. Tell your students you care about their success and then prove it to them.

That is the attitude needed to do more than muddle through.

This video exemplifies several faculty that committed to a positive attitude and approach during the pandemic.

Make a list and attack it one piece at a time. If a class activity you rely on is simply impossible to do online, do not let that discourage you, and do not let it cast a shadow on the rest of the course. Make an adjustment that goes beyond forced substitution. Design something new that allows your students to benefit from what makes you a great instructor: your stories, your expertise, and your sincerity.

Take advantage of these resources designed especially for UD faculty:

Do not wait until you are stumped to talk to your colleagues or contact the Office of eLearning. Partner with them now. The UD community spirit isn’t just about the student neighborhood. You are not alone. Reach out. Collaborate.

You are needed now. Your students are looking to you now. Give them your best.

Start today. Make next semester awesome.

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