Unlike many other universities that relied heavily on simple conference broadcasts, UTSA decided to set up a support and encouragement network to foster faculty success. UTSA management worked with the Office of Academic Affairs Division of Academic Innovation to identify faculty members who could help support instructors without online teaching experience. Management then partnered with the deans of each college to select âpoints of contactâ for each college and a âfaculty championâ for each department.
âCOVID-19 has changed the way we live, teach and learn. UTSA faculty, staff and students worked together to quickly transform the way we experienced an academic semester â, Melissa Vito, vice-rector for academic innovation. âUTSA has created a daring e-learning experience that goes beyond simply familiarizing yourself with new tools and instead emphasizes digital literacy. “
Faculty Champions helped their colleagues gain confidence in their online teaching abilities by offering one-on-one mentoring, identifying actions to support student success, and helping instructors overcome feelings of isolation and isolation. disruption caused by the pandemic. In partnership with the Academic Innovation team, they trained over 1,000 instructors in less than a week to move 2,298 courses online.
âI quickly realized that my role was more than just a transition to online education and online classroom navigation,â said Eddie Hernandez, Faculty Champion and Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Biology. “It was also about easing faculty dismay and offering encouragement to alleviate some of the timidity regarding the adoption and integration of online platforms for student engagement during this pandemic.”
The points of contact managed communications between faculty, departments, colleges and university, and shared updates with faculty champions. The effective communication strategy within the university business created a better learning experience for students struggling with online learning, as the touchpoints helped identify and share the needs and resources of the students. students. UTSA’s status as an Adobe Certified Creative Campus has provided additional tools to connect students and faculty.
UTSA leadership has provided a cohesive COVID-19 response plan and continued support to the university community. This approach allowed staff to focus on developing quality, dynamic and engaging e-learning strategies.
“Professors were able to get help both within their departments and from a larger support structure, so they felt confident to seek help from colleagues who were familiar with their course content,” said Arturo Montoya, Faculty Champion, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Faculty champions posed complex questions to the digital learning staff, who rose to the challenge of responding to requests for educational support during the pandemic.”
UTSA faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to support faculty touchpoints and champions. The Academic Innovation Team has actively responded to faculty inquiries and created numerous faculty resources and tips to help them be successful online. The team ran intensive Blackboard Learn bootcamps early in the online transition, and within a week delivered 40 live sessions to all departments. They also provided each college with an instructional designer to implement new online teaching and learning practices, ensuring that students enjoy the highest quality online learning environment.