Published July 12, 2021 by Bowdoin Online Learning and Teaching

BOLT Faculty Listening Sessions Reveal Successes and Challenges of the Pandemic Year

The BOLT team hosted five faculty “listening sessions” to provide an opportunity for faculty to share thoughts about teaching in a pandemic.

Participants discussed sometimes unexpected successes and reflected on the challenges and accomplishments of this 2020-2021 academic year. Abruptly shifting away from in-person learning and interactions to teaching via online platforms and tools posed an array of technical challenges for Bowdoin professors even with strong support from and high praise for the Academic Technology and Consulting (ATC) department.


Faculty reported struggling to engage with students remotely. Conversely, Bowdoin professors leveraged technology in a variety of ways to connect with students, encourage students to connect with one another, and to deliver their course content in an equitable and accessible manner. Though most professors were quick to recall the benefits of an in-person teaching and learning experience, some planned to continue to use specific technological platforms and revised assessment practices to manage and deepen student learning in their in-person courses. Other themes expressed during these listening sessions included the following:

  • the effective outcomes of technology paired with small group work fostered student collaboration and deepened learning
  • the effectiveness of online office hours with some planning to continue to offer some online office hours during the upcoming academic year
  • the success of implementing revised assessment practices that supported students but that also led to questions of grade integrity
  • the use of recorded lectures but with questions of how their use might translate to in-person courses
  • the ability to build relationships with students in the remote environment, and
  • the integral role Academic Technology and Consulting (ATC) department filled in helping professors prepare and teach their online courses.
BOLT will continue gathering data from the campus community this summer in the form of 3 student focus groups as it is essential to understand the experiences of all academic stakeholders in order to identify effective teaching and learning practices to document, scale, and sustain in the future.