McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

Two weeks to bring 2,000 courses online: How TLS collaborated as a team and with the community, under historic pressure

Interview with Laura Winer, Director, Teaching and Learning Services (TLS)*

What is the TLS team responsible for?

TLS provides resources, support, recognition, and development opportunities to instructors, students, and the broader McGill community and strives to foster the university as community of people who love to teach and are excited to learn. In collaboration with students, faculty and staff, we create engaging environments and provide leadership and support for meaningful educational experiences for all. Find out how here!

How would you describe your team culture?

Our team is mission-focused, and everyone contributes to getting things done. We’ve always been a strong and close team, so now the challenge is that people are truly missing each other.

How have the past few months changed things for your team and their roles?

People are collaborating even more, and there is a lot of “blurring of the lines.” We were able to get things done so quickly because of this. For example, we now have 11 cross functional support teams for the Faculties. Over the past few months, everyone’s humanity has come out—everyone deals with stress differently, and we have worked together with so much patience.

Has COVID-19 changed priorities?

Some people’s work wasn’t fundamentally changed, but others saw their roles change dramatically.

Nonetheless, everyone on the team took on more responsibilities and got out of their comfort zones. We had to turnaround quickly without having all the details and time to anticipate issues and plan for all the intricacies.

The volume has changed and also the needs. For the first month we had to dedicate 3 people to email triage and identify emerging themes in order to further develop our webinars and resources to support instructors.

Do you have any tips for staying connected as a team?

  • Daily check-ins
  • Chat functions on Teams
  • We created a group for all TLS staff, and it replaces our kitchen whiteboard for cartoons/jokes/informal events/etc.
  • OneNote for keeping notes/minutes of our staff meetings

Any moments during the pandemic that shine through on your team?

In the first two weeks we were able to support instructors by bringing over 2000 courses online (which included licenses, policies, procurement, etc.). We also played our part in helping McGill make good decisions on changes that supported the community: for example, for students removing stress by not using proctoring software, and for instructors, by ensuring that course evaluations were not required for the winter semester. We also quickly offered webinars for instructors to connect and learn more about virtual teaching.

TLS Staff Speak Up – Celebrating our own and others successes

I’m proud of how we came together as a team and supported one another during this tough time. I saw this both in how we helped one another with work assignments, and even how we checked in with one another to make sure we had food, life essentials, etc.

- Erin McDonagh

I have been most proud of the way instructors have been receptive to the advice and support we've been offering. So many instructors have attended webinars, brown bags, or reached out both with questions and to share advice or lessons learned.

- Leigh Korey

I'm so proud of instructors at McGill. Amidst sustained uncertainty, instructors' care and concern for students' learning have consistently shone through as they prepare their courses for the fall term.

- Jennie Ferris

Tout le personnel de TLS, à divers degrés, a travaillé au coude à coude pour se former, pour développer du matériel didactique pour soutenir l’enseignement à distance, pour former ensuite les enseignants, les mobiliser et les inciter à adopter ce virage de 180 degrés de l’enseignement traditionnel; tout ceci bien sûr avec la collaboration des facultés et unités de McGill.

- Sandrine Hoindo-Donkpegan

When we pulled together as a team and created 9 webinars in less than a few weeks that were designed to help the community plan and implement their remote teaching for this coming Fall. We had well over 2000 attendances at these sessions and managed to reach more people in the month of June than we at TLS have done in years before.

- Adam Finkelstein

*This interview has been lightly edited and condensed. 

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