UCI Forward

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Update on Remote Teaching

Section 1

March 19, 2020

Dear Parents and Students, 

I am writing to you to provide context as UCI moves to a quarter of remote teaching. Perhaps it will be helpful to clarify what remote teaching is, and at the same time, emphasize that it still will involve all the aspects of a traditional education: faculty and graduate student participation, opportunities for interaction (now in an online setting), and high-quality learning environments. The core of any course experience at a top, public research university are the interactions among the faculty and students, students with each other, and students with the material. The main difference between traditional courses and remote teaching is that the primary mode of these interactions moves from the physical classroom to the virtual classroom. Faculty members are still driving the design and the delivery of the experience and regularly interacting with the students. Students still engage with each other and the material. 

Learning to connect with each other in meaningful ways through technology is a skill that will serve our students well in their future careers and lives. We will always need face-to-face teaching — teaching where we are all in the same room, learning together — just as the live play was never replaced by the movie, and going to the movies has not been replaced by watching television at home. However, it is important to understand that these are unusual and challenging times that present a unique opportunity to connect, understand, and learn in novel ways. 

At this challenging moment, UCI is well positioned to support our students and faculty in this abrupt transition to remote learning for all courses during the spring quarter. Every year, we teach over 100 courses fully online with high standards and expectations of faculty and student engagement. Many and, in fact, most of our faculty have already infused technology into their classrooms and used it to enhance their face-to-face courses (see here for examples). We also have some of the top researchers in the area of remote learning (see here for examples). Their work into maximizing student success through technology is being deployed to support faculty in this transition. 

We understand that these are stressful times and that there is much uncertainty in all of our lives at present. Further, as with anything involving technology, we know that not everything in a given course will work perfectly the first time. And, even these moments will be opportunities for learning. Still, when it comes to remote instruction at UCI, we are confident in the creativity and patience of our faculty and of our students to navigate this new space and reach the same high standards of learning we expect of all Anteaters.

Yours,  

Michael Dennin 

Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning 

Dean, Division of Undergraduate Teaching