Resilient Pedagogy, or designing for all scenarios

Landscape photo of field with tree

Resilient pedagogy is a teaching approach that is like packing an umbrella, sunglasses, and an extra layer of clothes for a day out: it covers you for all eventualities. It allows for a flexible and adaptable course design no matter the delivery method, because the core structure has built in foundational elements and interactions that remain constant. By clearly identifying essential learning goals and planning student interactions to work effectively in online, blended, hybrid, or hy-flex environments, the student learning journey and overall experience remains central.

Flexibility and adaptability goes hand-in-hand with resilient pedagogy. There is an intentional inventory and identification process required for this type of course delivery. Faculty appraise the course holistically and earmark the essential learning elements of the learning goals, the pedagogy used, and then determine the parts of synchronous engagement that benefit most from interaction. Once those aspects have been identified, those activities and interactions are designed to be delivered synchronously regardless of modality. With these parts of the learning journey in place, asynchronous learning and opportunities for engagement between faculty, students, and the content can be filled in, keeping elasticity and resistance to disruption within the fabric of the design.

This ensures that all the important and vibrant aspects of the learning experience remain intact no matter the teaching mode. Admittedly more intensive in the initial course design phase, the added benefit is that faculty need to design once, since the course structure is inherently built to slide with relative ease between different learning environments. Courses created incorporating resilient pedagogy keep students engaged because synchronous learning activities and interactions have been centered within the learning journey, resulting in meaningful and impactful learning that is not dependent on location.

Interactions are kept meaningful within this design framework, but there are also opportunities scaffolded with the course narrative for asynchronous learning alongside layered engagement between students and the content, between fellow students, and feedback loops between students and faculty. It is crucial that courses that avail of resilient pedagogy keep the interactions that fuel and facilitate learning central to how the course is designed. Those aspects of communication, peer-to-peer and student-to-faculty discussions, and activities are significant to the dynamic thrill of learning.

Insendi partners will already be familiar with many aspects of the resilient pedagogy approach because it is inherent in our platform design. The insendi learning experience platform is crafted to maximise the educational affordance of online, with the platform structure and pedagogical ethos grounded in promoting active learning. From this vantage point, insendi empowers learning designers and faculty to rethink how information is transmitted when they build courses, to move the learning experience beyond the physical space of the classroom. Resilient pedagogy, and the insendi approach, not only prepares for all eventualities, but it highlights the interconnectivity of concepts and deepens discussions to show real world implications (see our recent piece on teaching case studies online).

For a real-world example of how insendi incorporates resilient pedagogy into our course design and how utilising this framework has been beneficial to our partners, I turned to my colleagues Holly Clothier, Head of Learning Design, and Georgie Hannam, Learning Experience Designer. They confirmed that the building blocks for leveraging resilient pedagogy are woven throughout the insendi design process. They detailed the recent experience of one of our partner institutions, who were only able to design and deliver one module of their course in blended format. The second module was designed for blended delivery but quickly had to be converted to online. Recognising that adaptability was imperative, our partner worked with Holly and Georgie to design and deliver the next two phases of the course fully online and have built a study trip for delivery in either a blended or online format.

Converting courses from blended to an online modality on the insendi platform is straightforward, since our platform pedagogy incorporates resilience and flexibility, Holly noted that our learning designers “stress to faculty the need to futureproof videos by not mentioning any specific logistical points or time-sensitive information. Such information is kept to text or the newsfeed, both of which are far easier to update.” A recent insendi article outlines some pertinent tips for fostering a strong relationship between subject matter experts and learning designers.

The insendi learning designers approach course creation and building from a holistic perspective, working closely with faculty to understand the intended learning outcomes and curate the delivery of the course. Holly said that with blended course design, “we discuss how the online work can inform and enrich discussions that participants have on campus, providing a smooth, clearly narrated transition from online to the classroom (and back sometimes). During these discussions, there will also often be conversations around what the course could look like in a fully online format.”  

In the experience of our partner institution, Georgie remarked that “our holistic approach to designing blended courses meant that, when we had to swap face-to-face classes for zoom live classes at the last minute, the narrative and support for the additional online studying was already in place.” Resilient pedagogy is a powerful methodology to incorporate into course design, allowing faculty to prepare for a range of learning environments within an adaptable and flexible framework that keeps the student experience centred. Highlighting the activities and instances where synchronous interactions are essential to the learning outcomes ensures that courses delivered are vibrant, engaging, and rigorous learning experiences, no matter the format. Our advice: pack that extra layer and umbrella even on a sunny day.

Dr. Carin Peller-Semmens

About the author

Dr. Carin Peller-Semmens is Academic Engagement and Partnerships Manager at insendi. Educated on both sides of the Atlantic, she holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College, an MA from Rutgers University, and a PhD from the University of Sussex. Her work as a historian focuses on 19th century American History, investigating racial violence and white supremacy. Carin’s first book is forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press.

Carin’s academic training is bolstered by years of corporate experience in communications, business development, and fundraising. As part of insendi’s Academic Engagement team, Carin manages and strengthens current partner relationships to support their successful strategic development and growth. She engages in multi-stakeholder user community building, including the award-winning FOME alliance. Additionally, Carin leverages her research background for thought leadership and insendi research projects to showcase edtech’s capabilities and potential. A devotee of the Oxford comma, Carin is passionate about diversifying higher education and the inherent ability of new innovations to widen accessibility and enrich learning.