What We’re learning About Learning: A Pandemic Year In Review—Lessons Learned for Remote Teaching and Learning

image bu Omar Al-Ghossen

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a full year of remote teaching and learning as a result of COVID-19. 

While we’re all looking forward to the day when in-person classes can safely resume, higher education has learned a lot through the crisis. In the first two episodes of the new CNDLS podcast “What We Are Learning About Learning,” we’ve been exploring the adaptations and innovations that have developed in pedagogy during this time.

As we reflect on all we’ve learned up to this very unusual anniversary from both students and faculty, what are the takeaways we’ll keep with us even past the pandemic? And how has our thinking around teaching and learning changed? 

The first episode of the podcast is focused on student perspectives and the second is focused on faculty perspectives. But we found a lot of overlap in their feedback—it’s clear that powerful learning is going both ways. 


Building Relationships with Your Students 

Needless to say, building relationships online can be difficult. However, many students and faculty have reported success from one-on-one sessions that build rapport and trust. 

For example, Gwyneth Murphy shared that a professor who really stood out started the semester with a 20-minute individual meeting with each student. 


Small Groups for Community Building

Murphy also expressed appreciation for having breakout groups on a regular basis, and having the same people in those groups to develop some consistency and make meaningful friendships. 


Professor Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner, in the Department of Philosophy, echoed the value of sustained work in small groups.


Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility

The online environment has also opened the door for more asynchronous activities and the restructuring of class time away from holding two or three lectures per week. Professors shared numerous strategies for reducing lecture time and increasing experimentation, transparency, and flexibility. 

Rhonda Dzakpasu in the Department of Physics actually did away with exams because the structure of her class allowed for frequent and incremental assessments of student knowledge.


Avoiding Zoom Fatigue, Getting Moving, and Getting Outdoors

Finally, student Margaret Gleason expressed that any opportunity for class time away from a screen was very welcome, and often offered treasured real-world experience with the subject matter.


Our next episode will zoom in (excuse the pun) on this very topic—getting away from the screen and into the community—so be sure to subscribe. While you’re there, check out the first two episodes of “What We’re Learning About Learning” and let us know what you think! We’re interested in feedback and topic recommendations. You can reach us at cndls@georgetown.edu

By Aman Kidwai and Meghan Modafferi