The future of learning and teaching modes at UVic

Since the start of 2020, UVic has been responding and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, this included offering more classes online than ever before for health and safety reasons.

Pre-pandemic, about seven per cent of UVic courses were typically delivered online. In the 2020/21 academic year, about 80 per cent of courses were delivered online. For 2021/22, UVic is back to predominantly face-to-face courses, though we offered an additional 100 or so courses online this fall term, to provide options for students who could not travel to Victoria in September.

Building on our expertise and leveraging what we learned during the pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, UVic has made significant investments to support instructors and students in the online teaching and learning environment—many of which continue to be available for all courses, regardless of delivery mode. This includes investments in technologies such as Brightspace, Zoom and Echo 360, as well as new support staff specializing in course design and accessibility. We also updated over 90 per cent of our centrally booked classrooms with basic recording technology, should an instructor wish to record their lectures, as well as outfitted two classrooms for hybrid instruction, meaning instructors can offer their course face to face and online simultaneously.

Through conversations and surveys with members of the UVic community, as well as by examining enrolment trends, academic leaders at UVic heard that instructors and students—while generally preferring face-to-face instruction—wanted more flexibility with teaching and learning delivery and a greater use of technology in the classroom. For some, online and blended courses are well suited to certain learning objectives and appealing for a variety of reasons.

And so, building on our expertise pre-pandemic and applying learnings from the past year-and-a-half, a working group is actively exploring the future of course and program delivery at UVic. In summer 2021, Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey, Acting Associate Vice-President Academic Planning pulled together a Course Delivery Modes Working Group to develop a framework that would enable more blended, hybrid or online delivery options should academic units wish to pursue them, starting in fall 2022. The working group includes administrators and academic leaders from multiple faculties.

“While UVic will remain primarily a face-to-face university, there’s a wide range from fully face-to-face to fully online course delivery modes, with many pedagogical and human factors to consider,” says Adjin-Tettey. “This is why it’s so important that we consult broadly, so that different perspectives from across the university can inform our work.”

Consultations with the UVic community

Consultations began with deans, chairs and other leaders in the summer. Student leaders and student groups continue to be consulted throughout the fall term, including UVSS, GSS and Society for Students with a Disability. Now, the working group is looking to connect with all members of the UVic community.

  • Students are encouraged to provide feedback through an online form, open until Dec. 19. Tell us what course delivery modes you prefer, your experience with online learning, and your suggestions for improving technology-integrated learning. There are also two consultation sessions with student leaders in December and January.
  • Faculty, librarians and instructors are invited to learn more, provide feedback and ask questions at a virtual town hall on Dec. 7. Watch a recording of the forum.

What instructors and students can expect going forward

Adjin-Tettey notes that decisions around a course’s mode of delivery will be driven by a set of principles that emphasize quality and the student learning experience. A course’s delivery mode will be based on individual course requirements, program requirements, and creating the best possible academic and graduation outcomes for students. Deans, chairs and directors will all play a role in the approval process, to ensure the balance of teaching modes is appropriate to the discipline.

“While we aim to build some flexibility into academic programming, most students should not expect the option of taking their program fully online,” explains Adjin-Tettey. “The UVic student experience includes coming to campus, engaging in student life, and getting hands-on experiences both in and out of the classroom. That will continue to be important even if we decide to increase the number of individual courses offered online.”

The framework will go to UVic’s Senate in February 2022 for their approval on course delivery mode definitions. A course’s delivery mode will be clear to students during the Winter Session 2022/23 registration period that begins in June, so that students know whether they will need to be in Victoria to complete a course. Periodic check-ins and reviews will gather instructor and student feedback, and determine whether any adjustments need to be made to an academic program’s delivery mode.


In this story

Keywords: administrative, teaching, technology

People: Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey

Publication: The Ring

Related stories