A Letter from Our Executive Producer, David Levin
REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit was born on 4th of April 2020. I was discussing the nature of the lock down with some ASU colleagues and as we talked it became apparent that what was seen as a short, one-time shock to the higher education system was actually a harbinger of a much deeper and more profound change. The weeks passed and our fears became realized, and we decided to design a virtual event to support students, universities, and colleges under threat.
As COVID-19 stay at home orders rolled out across the world, faculties scrambled to move Spring and Summer classes into new online environments. The assumption was that this would be a temporary disruption and that “normal” service would resume for the Fall. Faculty tried in so many ways to make this past quarter or semester a success - and for many it has been. However, the move to Zoom - which is what it has been for most - has been full of challenges and compromises.
It now transpires that faculty are being asked to prepare for a new and unspecified form of higher education. As a result, they are working hard to prepare a veritable à la carte menu of options – from a full return to campus - to total online immersion. Some faculty are even preparing for three or four scenarios, with a mix of options.
Higher education is in a precarious position. Students are uncertain about enrolling. Some have had mixed online immersion experiences and some question the value of course content.
The difficulties are understandable. It has been hard for faculty accustomed to exclusively on-campus teaching to adapt to online teaching without adequate support and training.
And yet at ASU (and at other institutions), we know that well-prepared online courses can be outstanding and offer unique benefits and opportunities.
What is REMOTE?
We designed the REMOTE virtual conference as a celebration of online excellence that would support faculty confronting this uncertainty and would help to deliver the best possible back to school experience for everyone.
REMOTE comprises a remarkable group of educators drawn from 30+ institutions offering exceptional online classes. Their brief is to provide actionable input that any faculty member can use in their digital courses. This convening of colleagues will also allow common interest groups to form, and to identify opportunities together.
I am grateful to a group of ASU colleagues and external Senior Advisors and whose time and effort have brought the REMOTE concept to life: Todd Altadonna, Steven Beschloss, Betsy Corcoran, Michael Feldstein, Sofia Fernandez, Lev Gonick, Ann Kirschner, Minu Ipe, Phil Regier, Jeff Selingo and Karen Vignare. Thanks also to the Questex team who helped make this possible: Nancy McHugh, John Siefert and Kate Spellman.
Our thought partners, APLU, EdX, eLiterate, the Online Learning Consortium and TED-ed together with our media partners Times Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education contributed hugely to the content and structure.
Our vision was supported and funded by founding partners The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson and CISCO. Our first sponsor, Chegg, was joined by Cengage, McGraw Hill, Macmillan, iDesign, Cource Hero, Soomo and Cogbooks. Together, the generosity of all parties made a huge contribution to a pioneering concept. Their help enabled us to design and launch REMOTE in three months and ensure free participation of every faculty member.
Thanks also to ASU President Michael Crow for his unflagging support, and the ASU Foundation who are hosting this event.
David Levin, University Entrepreneur in Residence at ASU and Executive Producer of REMOTE