Campus Community

Meeting Students Where They Are in Cyberspace.

Written By Rick Fehrenbacher, PhD, Director Center for Digital Learning and Innovation

Meeting Students Where They Are in Cyberspace.  Feature Image

Ignatian pedagogy informs faculty technology training

When the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic required that Seattle University shutter its physical infrastructure and suspend its face-to-face courses last March, faculty had less than three weeks to move almost 1,200 courses to virtual delivery.

In order to support faculty in this endeavor, Seattle University’s Center for Digital Learning and Innovation (CDLI) developed resources and workshops that helped faculty quickly and effectively transition to distance education. CDLI’s mission is to support faculty in the thoughtful use of emerging learning technologies to ensure our virtual courses reflect the high-touch, deeply experiential learning that characterizes Jesuit education. In many ways we were better positioned than other schools for the shift to virtual learning: we already had a strong instructional technology infrastructure in place and more than 250 faculty had taken CDLI’s six-month course design program.

However, many of our faculty were new to virtual learning and the quick shift to online instruction entailed some extraordinary efforts on the part of our faculty and staff, as reflected in the following numbers:

Graphic grid with stats for the CDLI

What were the results of all this work? Well, by at least one metric they were pretty good, as student course evaluations for our entirely virtual spring quarter across colleges were equivalent to or higher than those for fall 2019, our last fully face-to-face quarter.

But we weren’t going to rest on our laurels. When we realized there was a high probability that fall would be at least partially virtual as well, CDLI developed a series of summer workshops for faculty. 

In these summer workshops we provided more than just technology training—we also focused on providing the same Jesuit-inspired pedagogical training we offer in our six-month course design program. While many of the workshops centered on getting faculty up to speed using Canvas, Zoom, or other teaching technologies, we also offered workshops that focused on incorporating the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm into courses, innovative approaches to course and assignment design, and creating a sense of instructor presence and a vibrant learning community in classes. A total of 403 faculty participated in these workshops over the summer. Their commitment to providing an excellent academic experience and dedication to their students’ success exemplifies the Jesuit values of cura personalis and meeting the student where they are—whether in the classroom or online.