COVID-19 did not initiate the movement to online learning – that’s been happening for decades. But it sure has accelerated it, with academic departments scrambling to procure delivery software and IT infrastructure to move live courses online and help instructors and students adapt.

Possibly lost in the kerfuffle is consideration of the one element that interconnects everything else: facilitating a positive student experience in online examinations and academic work.

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In times of disruptive transition, what makes that student experience positive? The answer is simple to state, and, honestly, difficult to accomplish – ensuring fairness, transparency, and trust. Although they may seem so, these are not subjective concepts, but they are challenging to get right.

Trust, transparency, and fairness in the new normal of online learning

Accomplishing fairness

It would seem that everyone being online would create an even playing field. But really, with varying degrees of skill and experience in online learning among administrators, teachers, and students, fairness is not a given and must be at the center of pedagogical decisions. That’s not easy because so many of us are doing things for the first time. For example, one recent survey by Cengage showed that more than half (56 percent) of all institutions that moved courses online “were using teaching methods that they had never used before.”

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About the Author:

Amy Smith is the Chief Learning Officer at officer at StraighterLine, a provider of online college courses. She has taught and led online higher education for over two decades at several high-profile institutions.


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