PSU's Robin DeRosa on NHPR The Exchange

PSU's Robin DeRosa on NHPR The Exchange

April 20, 2020

NHPR The Exchange: Remote Learning: How are NH Colleges and College Students Adapting?

Dr. Robin DeRosa, Director of the Open Learning & Teaching Collaborative and a Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University was a guest today on NHPR's "The Exchange," a locally produced statewide call-in talk show, hosted by Laura Knoy. Other guests were Dr. Charles Lloyd, President of White Mountains Community College, Allie Reyes, a UNH freshman, and Dr. Susan Steubner, Colby-Sawyer College President and Professor of Social Sciences and Education. 

Dr. DeRosa began by describing the Open CoLab at Plymouth State University and the role it plays in the current crisis.

 "The Open CoLab is primarily a teaching and learning center, so we focus less on the content that faculty deliver and more on the pedagogy, which is how we deliver our curriculum.  And given the switch to remote learning, the Open CoLab has sort of been in the center of the mix trying to help our faculty figure out how to make that transition and also figure out how to translate the pedagogy of a school that is in general a residential college focused very deeply on really intimate relationships amongst students and between the college and our community and between faculty and students. So how do we translate that into the remote setting is part of what the CoLab has been helping with."

The philosophy, she noted, is not so much working on online learning, but working on remote learning in a time of crisis and trying to navigate that in the context of a global pandemic.  Despite the fact that the number of cases of COVID is relatively low in Northern New Hampshire, students are still dealing with issues such as unemployment and housing and food insecurity - all of which have a massive influence on their ability to come to the table to learn. In many cases in higher education, as well as K-12, the focus for teaching has shifted from academic to the emotional well-being of students.

Dr. DeRosa also talked about what she refers to as the "A.C.E. Framework," a framework that they are using in the Open CoLab at PSU that focuses on adaptability, connection and equity with the goal of creating better learning outcomes from students. It provides faculty using technology for remote learning with the frameworks to accommodate more situations and students. She discussed the many challenges associated with remote learning and described online video cameras as a technology that has the potential to display for example, chaotic or challenging living arrangements, or that can adversely affect those with anxieties or learning disabilities. 

What opportunities can be taken away from this situation? This was a question posed by host Laura Knoy towards the end of the broadcast. Robin talked about Hy-Flex Courses, courses that allow students to decide whether they take a course face-to-face or online or a little of each, based on where they are regionally and what kinds of socially distancing recommendations are in place. Changes and strategies that are happening now are not just for the COVID crisis in which we find ourselves, they are for the human reality. She said:

"This is not a silver lining to COVID, but a wake-up call. These are problems revealed by COVID, not caused by COVID. People have trauma, people get sick, people have circumstances that change how they engage with education. If we can work to make our public institutions and our community colleges more flexible so that learners don't have to stop learning just because life is difficult, that would be a real win.  Most people in a 2-4 year span of time are going to face tragedies and difficulties, so the more flexible and engaged with learners' worlds that we can make our institutional structures, I think the better off we will be meeting community needs for education."

Listen to the NHPR The Exchange: Remote Learning: How are NH Colleges and College Students Adapting?

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