Emergency Remote Learning (ERL): 9 Fundamentals Colleges Should Follow

emergency remote learning set up home

Things happen. The pandemic crisis lasted longer than first expected. Still, lessons can be learned from crises to adapt from instructor-led classes to emergency remote learning. Read about these nine fundamentals leaders should follow. 


Set the Vision for Emergency Remote Learning (ERL)  

The last crisis added a new challenge to the landscape. Still, schools rose to the task. Yet, headwinds continue for institutional leaders. So, leaders can plan time to focus on emergency remote learning. Besides, advantages emerged from the last round of ERL. 


Plan for Possibilities and Disruptions  

Savvy leaders plan for when emergency remote learning needs to happen. Also, leaders review models that work. So, policies and practices for other emergencies pave the way. Fire and severe weather emergencies prompt annual drills. Likewise, leaders can set aside time each semester to practice the switch to emergency remote learning. 


Communication is a Critical Element in Emergency Remote Learning 

In addition, leaders who focus on communication help drive results. Also, leaders can partner with IT, creating faculty webinars on how to use the emergency remote teaching tools. Still, what gets measured gets done. Updates on goal progress keep faculty in the loop. Also, Q and A sessions with IT and faculty can help build relationships and sharpen skills. Still, this moment is an important time for faculty and IT to revisit testing in ERL situations.


Validate Security for ERL   

Besides that, test security remains challenging. Traditional proctored exams pose problems online. Now is a great time to lead discussions on alternate assessment methods. Yet, if traditional testing is needed, now is the time to validate security. Work with IT to make sure this piece of the puzzle works in an ERL situation. 


Reiterate the Difference Between Virtual and Emergency Remote Learning

Still, virtual and emergency remote learning are two different means of instruction. One-to-one conversion of instructor-led materials does not work in the virtual learning world. Additionally, virtual learning leverages asynchronous and synchronous learning modes. Instructional designers know how to use both modes. Synchronous sessions give a sense of normalcy to students. Asynchronous content provides access to many with unreliable internet connections. 


Universal Design for ERL  

Still, universal design learning (UDL) works here. Yes, UDL is worth the investment. Individual differences in learning, language, and literacy are addressed. Besides that, UDL features ensure students with disabilities can access the content. Text-to-speech and closed-captioned videos help more students than struggling readers. Leaders find ways to use learning management system add-ons, so staff can revise content for accessibility. 


Understand Why Students Have Different Needs for Emergency Remote Learning   

Yet, accessibility sports different meanings in crisis settings. First, schools must ask if students have physical tools for learning in an ERL situation. Do students have the computers they need? Second, colleges need to ask if students have the software to do assignments. Also, going home may be in the students’ best interest. Besides that, in the pandemic crisis, schools learned many students did not have the internet connection they needed at home. So, schools can partner with other institutions or communication companies to provide connectivity.


Supply Tools to Faculty  

Also, faculty may not have the tools needed to deliver instruction in ERL. So, make sure the faculty has everything they need. Therefore, work with IT to offer faculty training. Also, leaders can make sure instructors know the pedagogies each tool serves best. Show staff which tool works best for what content. Make sure staff has the tech tools like microphones. Most of all, encourage instructors to create backup plans for technology failures. 


Increase Faculty-to-student ratio for Emergency Remote Learning   

Besides that, effective remote learning takes more people. So, increase the faculty-to-student ratio for synchronous sessions. Live stream workshops do take a team of people. Tasks like fielding questions from the chat and facilitating team breakout discussion groups go better with dedicated and trained moderators. Students get less frustrated, too. 


In sum, leaders face many barriers when learning or current systems of learning are disrupted. The additional challenge of a crisis that turns an institution to emergency remote learning can be mitigated with a plan. Savvy leaders carve time out of their busy schedules to set the vision and craft the response plan. Besides that, they prioritize communication with faculty and students. Also, leaders make sure everyone has tools and knows how to use them in an ERL situation. 

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