Adapting to New Modes of Teaching During COVID-19

Developing Instructional Approaches that Empower Learners and Facilitate Virtual Learning Experiences


  • Christopher Phillips
  • David Sunderlin
  • Tracie Addy Lafayette College


For institutions relying on in-person college experiences, the impacts of COVID-19 were particularly disruptive. Students anticipating on-ground learning opportunities and interactions were forced to adapt to online classroom experiences during a time of uncertainty, trauma, and racial unrest. Many instructors engaged in fast-track learning on different teaching approaches and digital technologies to transition courses to fully online or other modalities. Not all on-ground course experiences translated well into virtual spaces to facilitate student achievement of particular learning outcomes. Such abrupt changes in course modality posed distinct challenges at high-touch small college environments and necessitated reimagining how to support learners during the pandemic. Through the lenses of a director of a center for teaching and learning and two professors who were center fellows and implemented transformative practices in their courses during the pandemic, this essay discusses contemplative and field- and object-based teaching approaches that helped instructors tackle pandemic obstacles and support student learning through powerful online educational experiences.