When Central Florida K-12 schools announced they would transition to remote instruction due to the coronavirus pandemic, UCF Center for Distributed Learning executive director Kelvin Thompson ’99MA ’05EdD suspected teachers were going to need a little extra help.
Thompson started to compile a list of resources — from videos with tips on putting classes online to podcasts on “making remote teaching happen” — and started typing a message of support to his teaching brethren.
He called it a care package and initially sent it to Orange, Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Osceola, Volusia and Marion county school systems.
“I just wanted to offer something to say, ‘We’re in this with you.’” — Kelvin Thompson, UCF Center for Distributed Learning executive director
“I just wanted to offer something to say, ‘We’re in this with you,’” says Thompson.
UCF has offered online and blended education for more than two decades. Although the university experienced challenges just like every other educational institution in the country in moving every class online after spring break, UCF is a leader in the field and had a jump-start on the transition process.
More than 85 percent of UCF students take at least one online or blended course every year.
Diane Kornegay, superintendent of Lake County Schools, says she was grateful to the university for sharing its resources and expertise.
“Receiving the care package is yet another way that UCF supports its local school districts and we are thankful for the partnership,” she wrote in an email.
After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced April 18 distance learning will continue for the remainder of the school year, Thompson says his biggest piece of advice for both teachers and students is to just do the best they can to follow procedures.
“The biggest key right now is to offer something of value while not overwhelming students.”
“We’re going to get through this together. Just take it a day at a time,” he says. “University of North Carolina Professor Brandon Bayne came up with some principles as he adjusted his syllabus for remote instruction. The gist of it is: ‘Nobody signed up for this. We’re going to prioritize supporting each other as humans. Some of the academics is going to suffer, but we’re going to foster intellectual nourishment, social connection and personal accommodation. We’re going to be flexible and adjust.’ And I think that’s spot on. The biggest key right now is to offer something of value while not overwhelming students.”