“We’re All In This Together”: Carnegie Math Pathways Helps Educators Transition to Distance Learning Amid COVID-19

Early signs are promising — students’ results in pilot testing of the online courses were slightly higher than students’ results in the face-to-face Pathways courses. Those results are no small feat, given the high bar of success of the in-person Pathways courses.

Peering into their computer screens from the safety of their respective homes, a group of math instructors from the State University of New York (SUNY) system gathered virtually to share details about their abrupt coronavirus-driven shift into the world of distance learning.

The videoconference began with teachers discussing a range of concerns — from how to ensure they are addressing students’ mental states to how to proctor quizzes and tests online. One teacher recalled grappling with a technical issue in her school’s online learning platform. Heartened after a helpful student emailed her guidance on how to troubleshoot the issue, the teacher realized, “I just have to let the students know that we’re all in this together.”

These teachers are part of a weekly virtual convening set up by Carnegie Math Pathways (Pathways) to help math educators in the SUNY system collaboratively navigate their unplanned transition to distance learning. Carnegie Math Pathways is a research-based, holistic approach to developmental math, delivered through two programs, Statway and Quantway, that accelerate college math completion and redesign coursework to make it relevant to students’ lives and areas of study. The programs are taught in 90 colleges in 16 states, including 24 SUNY colleges. In addition to working with the SUNY group, Pathways staff have been helping the broader network of Statway and Quantway teachers across the country with this pivot to virtual learning.

“We wanted to leverage the Pathways network in order to help teachers move online quickly,” says Karon Klipple, executive director of Carnegie Math Pathways. Pathways staff have been offering a range of support to the national network of Statway and Quantway teachers, including facilitating weekly Faculty Sharing Sessions for teachers to collaborate and problem-solve in real time; developing a suite of distance learning resources, and creating an asynchronous online forum for teachers to share ideas and resources.

“Because the move to online learning was so sudden and unplanned for teachers, a lot of the support up front has been triage,” says Klipple. In addition to facilitating collaboration and offering resources and guidance, Klipple and her colleagues have “helped with setting expectations — what are some realistic goals for transitioning to distance learning on a dime in the midst of a crisis.”

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