For professors like Bryant Walker Smith who teaches technology law courses, virtual learning is already commonplace. Smith regularly uses video conferencing technology to connect with students when he is conducting research overseas, as well as to bring outside experts into his classes as guest speakers. He also takes advantage of asynchronous online modules to cover basic concepts, freeing up class time for interactive, hands-on exercises.
“I've always explained to my students that we're doing this in part so they get comfortable using videoconferencing in a professional manner, because they are likely to encounter it again for interviews, client meetings, and even court appearances,” says Smith. “I had never included ‘pandemic’ in this list of reasons, but when all of our courses moved online I was relieved that every student I've taught has already experienced online teaching—and so have I.”
For faculty and staff who weren’t as familiar with virtual learning, the law school’s academic technology team stepped up with a variety of solutions.
“We immediately started planning colloquiums and tutorials to train faculty and students,” says Adam Martin, audiovisual instructional technology specialist.
The team compiled practical materials into one easily accessible source that faculty, staff and students could reference at any time. Martin also created a tutorial for staff on how to work from home, including instructions on how to access OneDrive documents and shared network drives remotely. Zeke Whisonant, computer support specialist, worked to equip staff members with laptops, and Moore, Martin, and Randall Wilcox, an audiovisual support specialist, offered one-on-one training sessions with faculty who were less than comfortable with the sudden shift to virtual classroom technology. And every member of this dedicated team takes turns sitting in on classes to make sure they are running smoothly, allowing professors to focus on teaching.