Keys to Successful Adaptation

By Jodi Ryter

Without a doubt, the pandemic has impacted teaching and learning at NWU this fall. Every instructor needed to consider how to adapt course delivery to achieve learning outcomes and maintain in-person on-campus engagement while accounting for a classroom capacity less than the total course enrollment.

With directed health measures in place, students must wear masks and remain six feet apart in all classroom settings, including the lab, theatre and band room among others. Professors and students alike would need to adapt. The keys to this adaption turned out to be flexibility, technology and communication.

Instructors have split their classes into halves or thirds, meeting in-person with a portion of students at a time, and sometimes using Zoom to allow everyone else to attend virtually.

This rotation requires careful planning and communication using Canvas, the NWU learning management system. Professors communicate course policies, procedures, schedules and daily plans using Canvas.

Students also use Canvas daily to check in, read and review the learning plan for each of their classes. Is today their day to attend in person or by Zoom? What video should they watch prior to class? What reading or homework should they complete? What documents should they download and bring to class on their laptop? Will they need their laptop for class that day?

By being flexible, using technology and communicating well, our instructors and students can stay together—in the classroom, on campus and in session.

Jodi Ryter



Jodi Ryter is NWU’s dean of undergraduate programs.