Lessons learned from faculty in the response to COVID-19

A woman dances at Baird Point in front of a laptop.

Kerry Ring, professor and artistic director of Zodiaque Dance Company, connects through zoom to students in her Modern 4 dance class from Baird Point in March 2020. Photo by Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Published May 28, 2020

Within a ten-day span, UBIT worked closely with UB faculty to transition over 4,000 courses to an online format. We learned a great deal in the process about how we can help them deliver the best possible education, no matter the circumstances.

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Whether through town hall meetings, focus groups and other venues both in-person and virtual, we’re always listening to our faculty. We know that providing them with the resources they need for success can pay dividends in improving the quality of students’ education and furthering the mission of the university.  

When Governor Cuomo announced the transition to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 crisis, faculty had questions about how UB’s technology resources could help them approach the palpable task of converting their courses to an online format in the middle of a semester. And we were listening.

At the request of faculty and staff, UBIT added Zoom to our portfolio of collaboration tools. From acquiring the contract, configuring the service and bringing the service online, our IT team rolled out this enterprise-wide service in a week’s time—something unheard of in the past. I hope you’ll join me in thanking our team for their tremendous work in this area. In a recent survey, 71% of faculty responded that they find Zoom extremely or adequately effective for delivering instruction.

Just as crucial as the technical work that went into that service was the effort we invested in providing guidance to the UB community about how online tools like Zoom, Panopto and UB Learns can work together to provide a valuable educational experience to students learning remotely. Our team, along with UB's Center for Educational Innovation and others, were building resources and hosting virtual training sessions for faculty and staff within a week of the Governor’s order.  

In response to the effort we put in, faculty resoundingly showed up, engaged thoughtfully and provided valuable feedback that made it clear they care passionately about their students, and the quality of the education they’re providing to them, despite the numerous unique challenges ahead of them. 

As we look beyond the Spring 2020 semester, I encourage our faculty to keep engaging with us. How can we better support you? I hope you’ll share your feedback with me directly at cio@buffalo.edu

The continued trust and input of our faculty have everything to do with our success here at UB. By following your instincts, we can better face the challenges before us, together.

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