Libraries’ E-Learning Expertise Aids Campus Instructional Continuity Efforts

June 1, 2020

Remember when campus had 12 days to pivot to remote teaching in March? It sure feels like a lifetime ago. 

In March, the university undertook the herculean effort of transitioning and preparing thousands of courses online to finish the spring semester. Campus leaders quickly developed a strong group of teaching and learning experts to support the hundreds of instructors in that transition. 

The Libraries’ Teaching & Learning Programs staff have been proactively preparing for the growth of online instruction at UW via fully online certificates and undergraduate and graduate degree programs for the past two years. Through years of strategic work, these proactive efforts allowed two members of the Libraries’ staff to join the campus COVID-19 instructional continuity efforts this past semester. Alex Stark (E-Learning Librarian) and Sheila Stoeckel (Director for Libraries Teaching & Learning Programs) were called upon to support three academic departments in their remote course preparations: Journalism & Mass Communication, Communication Arts, and Planning & Landscape Architecture.

“It was a wicked challenge for every faculty member on our campus to pivot mid-semester. However, it was amazing to see everyone rise to the challenge using strong collaboration to achieve the goal,” remarks Stoeckel. “This effort was one of the finest exhibits of collaboration and cross-campus leadership I’ve been part of in my decade-long career.”  

Instruction Librarians are skilled in agility and innovation to meet the needs of over 30,000 learners across campus each year, and those skills were used and tested daily during the migration. Stark and Stoeckel helped instructors across the three departments think about how to move course content and activities to a virtual environment while maintaining the same quality of learning for every student. Specifically, they assisted faculty with Canvas support, virtual classroom practices, instructional content procurement, pedagogical strategies, and development of learning activities.

Stark reflects, “The field courses were among the toughest to transfer. A faculty member in Planning & Landscape Architecture, a member of the DoIT Video team, and I worked to provide an alternate control burn field experience by capturing drone footage of a previous burn and creating a series of instructional videos.” With a shared focus, projects such as this video series were accomplished in days rather than months.

The Libraries’ online learning talents continue to contribute to the campus’ instructional continuity efforts this summer with Stark’s involvement in supporting the Wisconsin School of Business with the development of their SOAR module in Canvas and two summer term courses. Our Instructional Content Librarians continue to support faculty around their course resource and content needs. Also, several instruction librarians are teaching research and information literacy skills in summer courses.

With the proactive foundation to support online learners, the full Libraries’ Teaching & Learning staff have moved quickly to serve spring and summer semester students so that they can successfully accomplish their research assignments. These same staff members are ready to continue their support of all modalities of learning for the fall semester.