Written By: Dr. Eahab Elsaid, Professor of Finance, Odette School of Business, University of Windsor
I was fortunate enough to participate in conversations with other educators from Ontario based universities about Humanizing Learning as part of the Open Learning Digital Fluency Fellowship (#OLDFF #OnHumanLearn) project. We met eight times, once every Thursday starting October 7th, 2021 for one hour to discuss various concepts such as: unlearning and unsettling, students as agents of diverse destiny, co-creating inclusive communities and sustaining change. Those concepts were discussed within the following structures: What? So What? Now What?
I am a full professor of finance at the Odette School of Business, University of Windsor and here is what I had to unlearn and relearn in my attempts to humanize learning during the pandemic:
- I had to (for the first time ever) include detailed answers to all the problems on the power point slides and the practice/homework problems and conceptual questions.
- I also had to create a study guide with detailed solutions that included potential problems and conceptual questions. The study guide is a course-specific test bank for the students.
- I had to create specific documents for each chapter that included old exam questions and answers on both the qualitative and quantitative sides.
- I also figured out that I was significantly slower when it comes to teaching online. As a result, I had to make adjustments in how I teach and how much detail I cover in order to finish the material in the allotted lecture time.
- Finance is one of those topics that is difficult to humanize under normal circumstances. This is despite of my best efforts to explain to students how finance affects all of their lives when it comes to investments (RRSP, TFSA, RESP, etc), mortgages, car loans, lines of credit, student loans, and so on. In my opinion, teaching finance online makes the job of humanizing learning an even more difficult process.
- The pandemic has taught me to be kinder and more considerate towards my students. At the University of Windsor, we have students from all ethnicities and walks of life.
- As a result, I decided to pre-record all my lectures and post them on Blackboard before the start of the semester. This way I do not force the students to attend the live lecture and they can always go back to the recording if they need to better understand a concept or a problem that was covered in class.
- Another aspect of humanizing the learning process is having to accommodate students who get COVID or whose family members get COVID. In these situations, showing sympathy and the willingness to accommodate these students is essential. I always make sure that my students know that I am willing to accommodate them if such circumstances arise.
- I have always tried to treat my students as individuals. I make an effort to learn their names. This is part of humanizing learning, in my point of view. The more a teacher learns about their students the better the outcome of the learning process.
- Treating students with respect, listening to them, and trying to accommodate them during these extremely unprecedented times. Everyone’s metal health and mental wellbeing is being extremely tested and pushed to its limits. Being kind and understanding is essential to our jobs as educators.