My story: Teaching and learning online

Jason Naranjo
Jason Naranjo courtesy photo

By Jason M. Naranjo
For me, teaching from home during the pandemic has provided an opportunity to continue to grow my teaching practice. Online teaching and learning are not new to me. As a scholar, I have studied and practiced online teaching and learning in inclusive teacher education for more than a decade with a focus on preparing professional educators to support students with disabilities in public schools. My scholarship in this area has served as the foundation for the development of teacher preparation programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at UW Bothell.

When the pandemic hit, I was poised to scale my approach to online teaching and learning and work to rapidly meet the needs of my students and my colleagues. In the spring, I worked with colleagues across our five schools to lead the effort to move approximately 600 courses online. We did it, and for the most part we did it well. This allowed us to be better prepared for the start of autumn quarter. It has been both challenging and exciting to support my students, my school and the campus in our move to remote instruction.

The pandemic-induced transition to online teaching and learning has also provided an opportunity to reconsider and reshape how we teach and learn. Online teaching and learning are not a panacea. However, given that our mission and vision as a campus is in part to provide “access to excellence in higher education” and to be a “transformative learning community,” we must engage with online teaching and learning that is grounded in inclusive pedagogies that enhance equity. The pandemic has provided the catalyst for these types of changes on our campus.

Online teaching is not a substitute for face-to-face interaction. I miss my students. I miss our hallway conversations before and after class. I miss meeting over a cup of coffee or having lunch with my students. This will return. In the meanwhile, I make the additional effort to reach out and let each of my students know that I am here with and for them. They can email, call, text or set up a video chat with me. We are living through this moment together, and it is my job to learn with students and coach them through this experience.

I look forward to the day when we can once again be together. I am also thankful that the pandemic has provided both individual and institutional opportunities for faculty and campus to examine our teaching practices and consider what equitable access to an excellent UW Bothell education means now — and what that will look like in the future.

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