Supporting Teaching and Learning during the Pandemic and Beyond
Chancellor Block, Interim EVCP Levine, Vice Chancellor Gorden and Academic Senate Chair Cattelino sent the following message to the UCLA Bruin Community.
Dear Bruin Community:
Throughout the winter quarter, members of the UCLA administration and UCLA Academic Senate met with representatives from the Disabled Student Union, USAC and the Mother Organizations Coalition to discuss a critical topic: how we can provide every member of our diverse student body with flexibility and support during the pandemic, while also making certain that we maintain UCLA’s commitment to academic excellence.
One way UCLA instructors can provide such support to students is by making adjustments to how they conduct classes this term. Since our return to the classroom in the fall, we have seen instructors adapt to the needs of students unable to attend class in person by recording and/or broadcasting courses live via Zoom, designing assessments that are not tied to specific times and locations, and more. In keeping with guidance previously offered by the administration and the Academic Senate, we endorse instructor use and sharing of recordings and livestreams for students who are absent for pandemic-related reasons, and reaffirm our support for providing other flexibility when it serves learning and equity goals.
We note that faculty have the responsibility, under UC systemwide policy, for applying academic standards to ensure that our university’s degrees have value — with each individual instructor possessing the authority to make decisions about their courses and the dissemination of teaching materials. We know many instructors are already doing so much to be flexible while maintaining academic excellence, and we offer our gratitude. For those who wish to learn more, resources related to using technology effectively for teaching, learning and assessment can be found on our Center for the Advancement of Teaching website. Several other specific resources appear below:
- Activating BruinCast in equipped classrooms
- Requesting Zoom Lecture Assistants
- Turning on closed captioning on Zoom
- Uploading videos through Kaltura on Bruin Learn to access auto-captioning
- UCLA Health IT guide for remote teaching
- UCLA Psychology IT guide to technology enhanced rooms
- CEILS Classroom Technology Guide
- UCLA Alternative Assessment Approaches
- Universal Design for Learning Recorded Workshop
Once we pass the acute phase of the pandemic, a second task UCLA will face will be to evaluate how we can use technological tools and the lessons we’ve learned from teaching during the pandemic to advance our instructional mission in ways that account for diverse student needs and life experiences. UCLA is currently studying this topic from a variety of angles: The campus is conducting a survey of faculty to assess their remote teaching experiences, with an eye toward how we should invest in new instructional technology. Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Levine will soon charge a working group to study alternative teaching modalities. The Academic Senate has launched a working group to review teaching principles, examine how they should govern the future of instruction at UCLA, and appropriately modify them. It will also soon launch a larger task force with a related charge. Student voices will play an important role as the campus advances these and other initiatives.
Any changes that result from these efforts must align with our core value of excellence in instruction and our commitment to educational equity, including accessibility for disabled students. The enhanced use of technological tools in classroom instruction post-pandemic must be approached thoughtfully, and with recognition of the need to proactively address any unintended equity concerns, long-term implications for student success, demands on instructor time, needs for instructional resources and more. We will examine these questions with care and with the input of our community.
A central tenet of UCLA’s mission, established at its founding, is a commitment to both high-quality and accessible teaching. In service of this goal, we endorse instructors’ continued flexibility at this challenging moment for us all, and look forward to determining how lessons from the pandemic can best help us meet our institution’s instructional goals. Thank you for your engagement in these efforts.