August 12, 2020

Broome’s Higher Ed Learning Collective Highlighted in The Free Lance-Star

College of Education Professor John Broome recently created the Higher Ed Learning Collective to help faculty members around the world adjust to teaching online. The Facebook group now boasts over 25,000 members in more than 100 countries. Photo by Kristi Meacham.

College of Education Professor John Broome recently created the Higher Ed Learning Collective to help faculty members around the world adjust to teaching online. The Facebook group now boasts over 25,000 members in more than 100 countries. Photo by Kristi Meacham.

College of Education Associate Professor John Broome was interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about his recently launched Higher Ed Learning Collective.

John Broome didn’t realize that the Facebook group he created had gone global until a professor in Australia noted that there, the current semester isn’t “Spring 2020” but “Fall 2020.”

“Literally, that is the first moment I realized, ‘Um, this has gone global. I had no idea,’” said Broome, an associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Mary Washington.

Intuiting what was to come, on March 11, the day before the university announced that it was moving all courses online in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Broome created a Facebook group to share tips and tricks for remote teaching.

“I expected it to be a group mostly of friends and extensions of friends to help each other, knowing that some of us are trained in online instruction but some of us aren’t prepared for it,” Broome said. “I added maybe 75 or 100 of my friends.”

But by the end of the first day of its existence, 3,000 people had joined the group and now, the Higher Ed Learning Collective has 25,000 members in more than 100 countries and has accumulated 400,000 posts, comments and reactions. Read more.

UMW Professor’s Online Initiative Attracts Tens of Thousands

The University of Mary Washington is among countless educational institutions worldwide that have switched to virtual classes due to the coronavirus threat, or COVID-19. Suddenly, students are at home, and so are their teachers. The transition has been daunting for many professors, especially those who have never taught online.

Higher Ed Learning Collective But one UMW faculty member saw it as an opportunity.

College of Education Professor John Broome launched the Higher Ed Learning Collective (HELC), a grassroots, we’re-all-in-it-together kind of Facebook group for sharing high- and low-tech remote-teaching tools, sprinkled with a dose of self-care. He never imagined the Collective would gain traction across the globe in just a few weeks, morphing into a worldwide movement with over 24,000 members in more than 100 countries … and counting.

HELC already has introduced a website and YouTube channel, and dozens of universities, libraries and online learning sites are recommending the group, as is UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Collective is creating a sense of community in a world that desperately needs one, and Broome hopes HELC will outlive the coronavirus pandemic, driving faculty to better address the diverse needs of students.

“Not everyone has access to good online or hybrid pedagogy,” said Broome, who – like so many fellow academics – was anxiously posting on social media. “We’re struggling as educators and as humans … so why not teach each other for free?” Read more.