Sept. 27, 2023

Innovations in teaching and learning offer lessons for all of us in wake of pandemic

Three Questions About Teaching and Learning (3QTL) podcast launches Sept. 27
Derritt Mason, a professor with short hair and a beard wearing a blue blazer and a tie, is smiling with crossed arms inside the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.
Derritt Mason hosts 3QTL, a new teaching and learning podcast. Mike Tan

For many of us, the disruptions brought on by the early days of the pandemic feel like a lifetime ago and, yet, we are still reckoning with that moment both as individuals and as institutions.

“So many people’s lives were touched by COVID-19 lockdowns. If you are a parent who had kids in school, if you yourself were in school, if you were a teacher, we all had to contend with the sudden shift to everything being online and everything that came along with it,” says Dr. Derritt Mason, PhD.

Mason is the host of a new podcast called Three Questions About Teaching and Learning (3QTL) that asks big questions and discusses innovation and creativity in teaching and learning as a result of the pandemic. Mason is an Educational Leader in Residence in online and blended learning and an associate professor in the Faculty of Arts:

“I still think we’re living very much in the wake of that moment. I don’t think we have fully absorbed all of the ways that the teaching and learning landscape has changed.” 

The podcast is the result of conversations that came out of the Flanagan Foundation Initiative at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and the desire to share lessons learned in post-secondary because of the move to online learning during the pandemic.

Mason notes that while the podcast speaks to a particular moment in time, it’s also the beginning of a conversation we need to continue having about how teaching and learning has been forever transformed by that shift.

Jesse Stommel, a white man with a beard and looks contemplative.

Jesse Stommel is known for his work on ungrading.

Courtesy Jesse Stommel

The first episode features Dr. Jesse Stommel, PhD — a keynote speaker at UCalgary’s 2023 Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching and faculty at the University of Denver — who is known for his work on alternative assessment and ungrading.

Grading and assessment are at the forefront of many educators’ minds in the wake of the pandemic. “COVID made us question so many things at the very foundation of how we teach and learn in the classroom,” Mason says.

“We selected the episode with Jesse first because it really sets a tone for the season. Grading and assessment practices, and the values behind them, are something we come back to again and again in almost every episode this season.” 

Another theme of the season is the emphasis on care and compassion that emerged from COVID.

The conversation between Mason and Stommel considers how course instructors might take steps to start rethinking, changing and making grading and assessment more compassionate, caring and equitable for students.

While the podcast is created with the post-secondary teaching and learning community in mind, Mason believes the conversations are broadly relevant.

“The questions that we’re raising about fundamental teaching and learning values, about strategies for effective, dynamic, caring, community-oriented pedagogy apply in a whole number of different contexts and levels.”

Mason says it’s not time to return to business as usual, yet. At least not before asking really hard questions about how to create community and reciprocal care in post-secondary institutions.

“I hope that people walk away from this podcast asking themselves big questions about what we do in classrooms, and what we, as a whole, in post-secondary education are trying to do.”

Listen and subscribe to 3QTL wherever you get your podcasts and find more information and show notes.

In 2021, a transformational $1-milloin gift from the Flanagan Foundation provided us with a unique opportunity to catalyze and set a bold new vision for blended and online learning at UCalgary. With this funding, the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning led a three-year plan to identify innovation in online teaching, support the creation of new and refined blended and online courses, and empower academic staff to create meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for students. This investment has accelerated innovation in teaching and learning at UCalgary, supporting us on our path to be a leader in blended and online learning.

Learn more about the Flanagan Foundation’s initiatives to advance blended and online learning.

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