President Clayton Rose has formed a new working group to develop a model for remote teaching and learning in the event that the College determines students cannot return to campus in the fall semester or should they have to leave campus again. Rose announced the formation of the group, called the Continuity in Learning and Teaching Group, in an email to the campus community Tuesday morning.
The group, composed of 12 faculty, six staff members and three students, will survey students and faculty to gauge the successes and pitfalls of current remote learning and teaching and will then recommend a new model to be followed in the case of continued remote classes.
“Hopefully we’re going to start meeting tomorrow and start having substantive conversations about our contingency plans to how we’re going to provide a quality Bowdoin education, should we be forced off campus once again,” said Richard Broene, professor of chemistry and the chair of the working group, in a phone interview with the Orient.
“I would really like it if what we develop is never utilized,” he added.
The formation of the group is not indicative of the College’s plans for the fall semester, Rose assured.
“We’re doing this because we need to be prepared, not because we have a desire to go into a remote learning model … We’re working as hard as we can to figure out if there’s a way not to be remote,” said Rose in a phone interview with the Orient. “If we can’t be on campus … or we’re on campus but we have another outbreak or the governor or the federal government makes a decision that requires us to again to move off campus, we want to have a better remote learning model to be able to carry on.”
Broene and Rose did not say specifically what aspects of the current model would be changed, though Rose commended both faculty and students for their ability to quickly adapt to remote teaching and learning, noting that faculty overhauled their courses in about two weeks.
The group will submit its recommendations to Rose and the dean for academic affairs by June 30, approximately two weeks after the Return to Campus Group is expected to make a recommendation regarding if and how campus can reopen in the fall.
Broene anticipates that his group will share recommendations with faculty ahead of the June 30 deadline if the College decides to continue remote learning in the fall to allow professors and the Office of the Registrar to make adjustments ahead of course registration, which has been pushed to July pending the Return to Campus Group’s recommendation.
“[The Return to Campus Group’s] final decisions need to feed into our final decision,” said Broene. “Best practices and remote learning and online learning are best practices regardless, and I don’t think that’ll change. The question is whether or not the faculty should be planning on implementing them immediately or later on in the summer.”
Ultimately, the goal is to standardize students’ expectations if they cannot be on campus, Broene said.
“We have a bunch of different modes being utilized. Some of those I am certain are going to be better received by students than others. And so we just have to figure out which ones those are and then think about how we can present a consistent experience so the students will know what to expect … if they have to walk into an online environment,” he said.
“No one’s under any illusions that this is going to resemble the learning experience that goes on on campus or replace the campus life,” added Rose. “That is not going to be true, which is why we all want to be back on campus if we can.”