Honors International Faculty Learning Online (HIFLO 2020): A model for honors online professional development
Keywords:remote honors, creating community, deep virtual learning, faculty development
The Spring of 2020 brought many disruptions to our professional and personal lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced worldwide mid-semester campus closures; pivoting of traditional, face-to-face classes to remote teaching and learning; and postponements or cancellations of conferences, workshops, and other professional development events. One example of the breakdown of scheduled opportunities for us as honors colleagues to gather in-person to enhance our practices and strengthen our community was the cancellation of the 2020 International Conference on Talent Development and Honors Education in Groningen, the Netherlands, originally slated for June 10-12 but moved to June 16-18, 2021. Immediately following the 2020 conference, we (the authors) had planned to offer the fifth Honors International Faculty Institute (HIFI), an international and highly interactive occasion for honors and talent development teachers, researchers, and leaders to engage in presentations, experiential activities, place-as-text explorations, collaborative group work, reflective exercises, and showcases designed to improve teaching, learning, and programming in honors. Suddenly, the coronavirus upended our world, and we had to reimagine the institute that we had previously organized four times alternately at Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) and Texas Christian University (USA). Putting aside the disappointment of the moment and recognizing the value of coming up with an alternative to HIFI that would ensure the safety and health of our honors colleagues, we decided to create a fully online version with free registration to encourage participation and create resources accessible to all members of our international community. We wanted to highlight the challenges of how all of us unexpectedly had to pivot to remote teaching and learning as the global pandemic intensified, but we also wanted to share information, experiences, and models that could open new avenues for operationalizing online honors education more generally beyond the COVID-19 crisis. We wanted, in other words, to explore how honors pedagogy could (and maybe should) be adapted to the increasingly online world of primary, secondary, and higher education. Thus, HIFLO 2020 was born! HIFLO stands for Honours International Faculty Learning Online.