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A Survival Guide to Emergency Remote Teaching

14 April 2020

ELIA’s latest virtual talk entitled Re-imagining Higher Arts Education Online focused on how higher education institutions are dealing with the speedy transition to online learning. Guest speaker Dimitrios Vlachopoulos, programme manager “EdTech for Social Change” at the Digital Society School (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), conducts research on new and emerging pedagogies, instructional design, digital transformation and quality assurance in online education.
During his presentation Dimitrios reminded us that we cannot compare face to face delivery with online teaching and learning. These are two completely different pedagogical models with different roles for faculty and students.
Online teaching requires teachers to see themselves more as motivators, coaches or mentors. Students in some cases will now work to an asynchronous schedule and therefore they need to stay on top of module requirements and deadlines. As much of the work is written or delivered on screen, faculty need to be effective communicators in order to keep students engaged.

Dimitrios talked about a new definition which has emerged recently called Emergency Remote Teaching.

“A temporary shift of instructional delivery to an alternate delivery mode due to crisis circumstances. It involves the use of fully remote teaching solutions for instruction or education that would otherwise be delivered face-to-face or as blended courses and that will return to that format once the crisis or emergency has abated.” (Hodges, Moore, Trust & Bond, 2020)

Current support models concerning those who are working in this new realm might include full-course design support, professional development opportunities, content development, learning management system training and support, and multimedia creation in partnership with faculty experts. However, there is no doubt that this transition has had its pain points.

Here are four steps Dimitrios suggests educators take in order to alleviate some of the inevitable confusion:

1. Understand the minimum institutional expectations
As we are in an unusual situation, it is important to have a clear in mind what is expected from you and your colleagues. The reputation of your institution in terms of quality assurance is at stake and needs to be maintained.

2. Be aware of all resources provided by your institution
Budgets may need to be readjusted, media assets and learning materials used in different ways, equipment and IT staff should be on hand to help. Some of your colleagues might be experts in this field or might have experience they are willing to share.

3. Identify the contact people who can give guidance
Know who you can go to for technical support, the purchase of software licences, help on choosing the right online tools. Who can you call on to come to your aid if you need it.

4. Create a plan and ask for feedback and/or approval
You have developed a strategy now you need an implementation plan. Create a plan that is achievable and timely, and seek feedback from others.

Dimitrios reiterated that there is no escaping that this is a crisis situation and while there is flexibility with this emergency context, educators need to be mindful that this is not a normal semester nor should it be treated as one (Vlachopoulos, 2020).

The wellbeing of students and faculty also needs to be protected at this time. As faculty jump into action mode, producing new learning materials and rewriting courses for online study, we need to be careful not to burn out. Our skills are needed. Transitioning arts disciplines online in particular requires innovation and ingenuity. Educators should consider how multimedia and video could be used more effectively. Is there room for simulation or the gamification of exercises? Don’t rush into purchasing tools without considering fully what the desired learning outcomes are.

During the open Q&A session, Sarah Meltzer Golan joined from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. She was surprised to see how her colleagues had discovered ways they could teach dance online even though the students didn’t have the studio or physical contact.
Sarah’s school invested in more than 150 licences for video conferencing andtrained all their faculty for a few days around the clock. Different learning styles were quickly put in place for students who did not have access to online technology and the Academy are pleased with how this solution is currently working.

Michael Li from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts then explained that they are also using video calling to teach dance classes. He has embraced this period as a time for experimentation –

“It has made us rethink the way we deliver performing arts. I think it’s a great opportunity to seize on and do something fantastic and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m very excited.”

To view a recording of this ELIA webinar, please contact conference manager Janja Ferenc, at janja.ferenc@elia-artschools.org. 


Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T. & Bond, A. (2020). The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning. Retrieved from EDUCAUSE REVIEW at https://er.educasue.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Vlachopoulos, D. (2020). COVID-19: Threat or opportunity for online education? Higher Learning Research Communications, 10.

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