Statements from Leadership

“I’m delighted to share the ‘Teaching Transformations: Faculty Reflections and Insights on Pandemic Practices’ guide. The past two and a half years have been a trying time for higher education, and instructors exhibited resilience to teach amidst unprecedented circumstances. Columbia faculty brilliantly innovated their course designs, teaching strategies, and technology use, all with a lens toward equity and inclusion, to best support their students. This guide celebrates their work and aims to pass on their wisdom to educators across Columbia University and beyond. I invite you to read through these faculty stories and be inspired.”

Mary Boyce

Provost, Columbia University

“The pedagogical advancements and discoveries made by Columbia faculty throughout the pandemic have forever changed teaching and learning at the University. Instructors’ strategies to adapt to online and hybrid teaching—often executed with the help of the Center for Teaching and Learning—are now even being carried forward to uphold excellence in in-person instruction. I’m thrilled that through this guide, ‘Teaching Transformations: Faculty Reflections and Insights on Pandemic Practices,’ this work is being recognized. I hope that you will learn from it, as we move towards a more evidence-based, inclusive, and student-centered teaching community at Columbia.”

Soulaymane Kachani

Senior Vice Provost, Columbia University

“The Center for Teaching and Learning is excited to share the stories of innovative pandemic teaching at Columbia. Teaching is a community activity but it is often difficult for instructors to see what others are doing, especially at a time when we were all remote. This resource is a way to open classroom doors, virtual or real, and allow everyone to benefit from the innovations and ideas of others. It serves as a foundation to support a community of instructors who want to share, who want to learn, and who want the very best learning and transformative outcomes for their students. We are grateful that we have been able to help bring these reflections and insights to light, and to illuminate teaching that takes us from the past to the future.”

Catherine Ross

Executive Director, Center for Teaching and Learning


Why this Guide?

The Spring 2020 semester was unlike any other. Across higher education, instructors and students made a remote pivot to provide learning continuity through a global pandemic. Instructors from all disciplines found themselves teaching fully online, some for the first time ever. Students and instructors alike had to adapt to learning and teaching in new modalities. Instructors seized the opportunity to rethink and reimagine their approaches to course design and the materials they use to support student learning. They exhibited great creativity as they reflected on a whole host of questions: how could they support students and help them continue learning, despite what was happening beyond the virtual classroom? How could they keep students engaged and connected? What were the essential elements of the course? What do students absolutely need to learn in order to achieve the course outcomes? 

The return to in-person learning during an ongoing pandemic brought its own set of questions: what did it mean to engage students in hybrid and socially-distanced learning? How could instructors continue to foster connection and resiliency? What innovations, even those developed and adopted out of necessity, could carry forward to enhance in-person learning

This guide illustrates how faculty from Columbia and affiliate institutions responded to these questions to meet the moment and support the needs of their students. Throughout this guide and in their own words, faculty reflect upon their teaching transformations and the insights they gained from their pandemic teaching practices. Within the pages of the guide, readers will find narratives of innovation as rich and diverse as our faculty and student communities. Each faculty spotlight highlights specific teaching innovations, lessons learned, and advice for Columbia faculty who might be looking to make changes in their own courses. While teaching and learning approaches and contexts will continue to evolve, the insights in this guide provide a snapshot of what faculty have carried forward.

Creation of the Guide

This guide was initiated by the Office of the Provost and Deans across the University in recognition of how Columbia faculty not only made teaching and learning possible during a global pandemic, but did so in incredibly innovative ways. Beginning in August 2022, the Center for Teaching and Learning staff reached out to nominated faculty, inviting them to reflect upon their experiences teaching during the pandemic.

The guide is structured around six themes that emerged from the innovations highlighted in the faculty narratives. The themes include: equity and inclusion, partnerships, course [re]design, active learning, collaborative learning, and course materials and assignment [re]design. Many faculty narratives touch on multiple thematic categories. Within each of these categorical themes, readers will find examples of teaching practices from across disciplines and schools, along with tips and resources to assist in adapting these approaches to their own teaching contexts.


On behalf of the Center for Teaching and Learning, we thank Provost Boyce and Senior Vice Provost Kachani for their vision and leadership in supporting and promoting teaching innovations at Columbia University. Over the years, the Provost Teaching and Learning Grants have been instrumental in seeding innovative approaches across the University.

We thank the Deans who nominated their faculty and the faculty who contributed their time and their insights to inspire us all. As you explore the guide, we hope you will reflect on your own teaching and your take-aways. We invite you to contact our staff as you seek support with your own teaching innovations at