Pandemic Teaching book helps faculty make a quick transition to remote learning

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As teaching faculty across the globe scramble to move their on-campus courses to a remote-learning format, veteran teaching mentor Kevin Patton provides a quick and dirty survival guide to get things started—and keep things going. It’s called “Pandemic Teaching: A Survival Guide for College Faculty.”

Book cover for "Pandemic Teaching: A Survival Guide for College Faculty" by Kevin Patton, featuring a photo of a remote camping tent in the wilderness

Pandemic Teaching: A Survival Guide for College Faculty by Kevin Patton

Most teachers think the best move is to replicate the on-campus course experience as closely as possible, but I think that’s a big mistake.

Teaching faculty across the globe are scrambling to move their on-campus courses to a remote-learning format. Many teachers are ill-equipped to navigate the logistics of such an emergency transition to distance teaching methods. In a new book, veteran teaching mentor Kevin Patton provides a quick and dirty survival guide to get things started—and keep things going. It’s called “Pandemic Teaching: A Survival Guide for College Faculty.”

Having had the experience of moving from on-campus to online teaching, Patton distills his failures and triumphs into a quick guide to what's important and what's not as instructors make their transition in this crazy time of pandemic teaching.

“Most teachers think the best move is to replicate the on-campus course experience as closely as possible,” says Patton, “but I think that’s a big mistake.” He says, “I’ve done that, and it doesn’t work very well because the online learning experience is very different than what students experience in an on-campus class.”

Patton instead recommends, “cutting content to the bone” by pruning away all non-essential details and reducing the number of learning activities and tests—which should be open-book tests with flexible timing." He further recommends, “using recorded lectures and web meetings sparingly, instead covering only the core ideas—and only in small chunks of no more than 18 minutes each.”

Advocating “a more student-centered approach in remote learning than we typically see in on-campus classes,” Patton emphasizes that it is “through supportive connections with faculty that students become free to learn on their own terms, developing self-learning skills that enable success going forward into their professions.” A key take-away, according to Patton, is to “be present to students and to be overtly empathetic.”

The first section of the book provides a list of quick tips, strategies, and helpful mindsets—all based on Patton's real-life practical experience and on evidence-based pedagogy. The second part of the book expands on some of those quick tips to give further advice for implementing them.

"Pandemic Teaching" is the first of a series called "Lion Tamers Guide to Teaching" based on Patton’s blog of the same name. Patton says in his blog, “all I really need to know about teaching I learned as a lion tamer." That's because, he says, his "early experience as an apprentice lion tamer taught me not only the core principles of learning science—it taught me how to gain the trust of students and form the kind of empathetic and compassionate bond that promotes learning.”

Patton is an award-winning professor, textbook author, and education leader. He produces several blogs and a podcast on teaching and learning.

Written in an informal, conversational style, Patton's book gives useful advice and empathetic support as college faculty survive their own experience of pandemic teaching. Patton sees this book as a service to the college teaching community to help his colleagues all over the globe benefit from his decades of teaching and mentoring. For that reason, he’s offering it as an e-book that can be downloaded at no cost in most channels.

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