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W&M Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation ramps up support for remote learning

  • Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation:
    Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation:  Mark Hofer (center) is director of William & Mary's Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation and professor of educational technology at the School of Education.  
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As William & Mary students and faculty prepare to move to remote learning from March 23 through at least April 3 because of precautions surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the newly-established Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation has set up a support system to assist faculty.

Stating that the studio’s purpose "is to provide strategic solutions and creative ideas to assist in any situation," officials developed a plan for collaboration among units and people across campus.

"While COVID-19 presents considerable challenges as we work to reimagine our courses in a remote or online format, it also provides us with opportunities as a community of learners to take risks and explore new technology tools and resources," said Mark Hofer, director of the studio and professor of educational technology at the School of Education.

"By serving as a collaborative partner with IT, university libraries and educational leaders across campus, we are working hard in STLI to meet faculty where they are and help them explore ways to support their students."

Studio staff are currently in the process of equipping faculty with the resources and support needed to begin using remote learning most effectively in a short period of time. Among those efforts is a new website containing resources and teaching tips.

The instructional resilience website highlights communication strategies, course material distribution, options for teaching classes online, lab activities, peer-to-peer collaboration among students, assignments, tests and quizzes, frequently asked questions and information on where to get additional help.

The studio will also host tutorials that include videos and help guides; live webinar sessions that focus on programs including Zoom, Blackboard, Panopto and student engagement strategies; and open office hours with team members in person or online for in-depth assistance.

Additionally, studio officials are coordinating with Information Technology and staff from W&M Libraries to assist with any technical issues or difficulties faculty may be experiencing in teaching and working online as well as in accessing critical educational materials.

The Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation was established in the fall of 2019, integrating the pre-existing eLearning Initiatives group. The initiative was championed by W&M President Katherine A. Rowe, who said at the time that faculty members have expressed a strong desire to break through disciplinary silos, adopt appropriate new technologies and more strongly unite with colleagues across the campus and schools to advance teaching excellence.

The studio is designed to "coordinate existing initiatives devoted to teaching effectiveness while creating new opportunities to ignite and incubate innovative ideas and approaches, and to showcase these at our institution and beyond," according to a report on its inception.