Updated: Mar 24
By Dr. Jessica Riddell, Executive Director, Maple League of Universities April 28, 2020
Mitigating Disruption through Collaboration
The rapid shift from face-to-face interactions to online/remote teaching in the Winter 2020 term has been one of the most disruptive shifts in the history of Post-Secondary Education (PSE). In the coming months our institutions will be called upon to balance delivering high quality online learning while making an argument for the deep and enduring value of face-to-face learning. One of the core strengths of our institutions is the many opportunities for in-person engagement with extraordinary faculty and staff. With the suspension of on-campus and in-person activities at our four campuses in mid-March 2020, colleagues across the Maple League moved quickly to connect with each other to provide support and resources for faculty, administrators, staff and students in virtual communities.
Turning Challenges into Opportunities
Many of these initiatives build upon existing collaborations in which the Maple League has been engaged since its inception, and they have put us in a strong position to work together in navigating through the current crisis. The Maple League provides us an opportunity to shift from crisis management to a tactical, entrepreneurial approach in the light of COVID-19 and respond to longer-term pressures. In the light of the crisis precipitated by the global pandemic, the two guiding questions at the heart of this consortium – “what can we do together that we cannot do on our own?” and “how does working together enhance what we do on our individual campuses?” – are more relevant (and indeed more urgent) than ever.
Maple League Highlights over the Past Six Weeks
The Maple League Teaching & Learning Committee (MLTLC) has been planning longer-term support in Spring/Summer and Fall 2020 for alternative delivery of courses and how we can support faculty and students. The MLTLC has designed longer-term pedagogical support for:
– Teaching and Learning Support with Virtual Open Office Hours for Faculty
– Peer Support with Virtual Open Office Hours for Students
– Curated Mental Health Resources via Social Media
– Indigenous Mindfulness Retreat
– Collaborative Scenario Planning and Sharing Best Practices
– Shared Spring/Summer Course Offerings
– Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that encourages inter-institutional course sharing
– Pedagogical Support for Online/Remote Learning (Spring/Summer 2020 & Fall 2020)
– Maple League Academic Programming
– External Engagement with Foundations, Think Tanks, and Government
Maple League colleagues have demonstrated generosity, compassion, and resilience in the light of the global pandemic. Our four institutions reached out to one another immediately and are now finding ways forward that are stronger together. These are extraordinary times and our collective willingness to think differently to deliver a high quality 21st century liberal education sets us apart from our competitors. In the coming weeks and months we can harness our strengths and put ourselves in a whole new league in Canadian higher education and internationally.