From Remote Emergency Teaching to Quality Online Education

Welcome to a brief blog drawn from our recent Helix Education webinar, “COVID-19: the Roadmap to Fall 2020 Remote Emergency Teaching to Quality Online Education.” You can view a full transcript of the webinar here

During this webinar, Cherron Hoppes, Ed.D., Chief Academic Officer and Vice President at Helix Education, shares how to go beyond the quick moves at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to establish a quality experience for faculty, students, and stakeholders.

Our Unprecedented Circumstances

Over 25 million students have had their learning disrupted. We’re already seeing a number of changes coming from institutions regarding admissions policies and staffing practices, and many institutions are finding that one path is not the right path. 

Yes, we’ve transitioned to online education, but many college leaders are concerned about its inequitable impact on underrepresented students. And to top it off, this economic tsunami is hitting us just as we were getting back on track financially as a sector after the Great Recession. Public institutions will take the loss in revenue particularly hard as legislators will have less money to dole out from taxes.

So here we are in this unprecedented time, talking about remote or online learning or even emergency remote teaching — that’s the language we want to use. But the reality of it is quite different from what that language suggests. Many institutions were put in a position where they had just days, and in some cases, mere hours to move everything that they were doing in their in-person, on-campus format into an online or a technology-based environment. 

And it proved to be much more complicated than simply shifting synchronous, time-in-place-based learning to synchronous online learning using Zoom or Google Groups. 

Frankly, what we are doing right now is not quality, effective, online learning.

The Four Pillars of Quality Online Education

How can institutions really leverage online learning opportunities in a way that is meaningful and sustainable and keeps the best of both worlds?

By building on the four pillars of quality online education:

Institutional online readiness

How do students move through your processes? If we’re being really honest with ourselves, we all know administrative and bureaucratic hurdles exist across our campuses. How can we make sure those hurdles are not causing students to experience frustration, concern, and confusion? We want students really focused on the business of learning what they need in the classroom, not on jumping over bureaucratic hurdles. 

The online and teaching and learning experience

The online and teaching teaching and learning experience is really a holistic look at how we help faculty members rethink their instructional styles to leverage educational technologies in order to create learning environments that students can fully engage in. And so we’ll continue to talk about the online teaching and learning experience and how to really create that not only in the classroom but also extending it beyond the classroom. 

The online student experience and engagement

The foundation of coaching — connecting students to the campus community and its resources and helping students figure out the best ways that they can be successful in higher education — is the primary way to keep those online students engaged and active and committed to their educational experience.

Student and parent expectation management

No one planned for this. So having a well-thought-out strategy that communicates clearly to our constituents brings transparency. It lets students know what they can expect. Communication is what’s going to build trust and encourage enrollment and ongoing continuity of students’ educational plans with our institutions. 

So with these four pillars, we are trying to think holistically about how institutions can approach what’s coming at them as they’re making decisions for future learning: Is it online? Is it on the ground? Is it a blend of both? How do we be nimble based on what the larger health environment is telling us we need to be doing? 

And how can Helix Education help?

Institutional Online Readiness Rubric

Helix has been working in online and enrollment-driven programs for more than 30 years. We’ve got success stories, we’ve gotten bumps and bruises along the way as we’ve tried to figure out the best strategy around operations, instructional design, teaching and learning, faculty support, and student support. 

With that experience, we wanted to bring to you some of the tools and strategies that we use to help institutions move forward through crazy times such as these.

So we put together guides, rubrics, templates, and all kinds of resources that we’re making available for you to use as an opportunity for self-reflection and training and to share it with your campus community. These resources can help you move quickly from remote emergency teaching to the quality online education that students, parents, accreditors, and your constituencies are going to expect once we move into the fall.


This post is based on a podcast interview with Cherron Hoppes, Ed.D. from Helix Education. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Enrollment Growth University.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.