National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, 2021, Vol. 17:185–94


Copyright © 2021 National Collegiate Honors Council


Honors education was never intended to be a virtual offering; it takes intimate, three-dimensional, communal, and intellectual interaction among faculty and students to tackle wicked problems. The COVID-19 crisis forced honors educators into an extreme reboot, extracting courses from comfortable working spaces and relocating them to strange new platforms for remote, computer-mediated instruction. For many faculty, the 2020 pandemic introduced online instruction for the first time. Toward this end, many novices were able to brilliantly reimagine and re-engineer their courses while others struggled. In this essay, the author points out that higher education has always adapted new technologies, asserting that many aspects of online, asynchronous teaching serve honors programs well. Faculty wishing to provide an online honors experience as rich and nuanced as the traditional model must understand that online teaching has its own added value, far more sophisticated than merely face-to-face instruction delivered remotely. The author argues that honors programs should be crucibles for innovation, not archives of the obsolete, and asks honors faculty to invite students into these brave, new, virtual worlds.