CCC faculty embracing technology for students

CCC_Yuengling

CCC Geology Faculty Kurt Yuengling sits at his classroom at his home.

 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Zoom. FaceTime. YouTube. Online dashboards. Email.

 

It’s different from face-to-face teaching, but it gets the job done so students can keep chipping away at their educational goals during the time of the COVID-19 stay-at-home executive order issued by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

 

Faculty at Coconino Community College spent their Spring Breaks this year working to figure out ways to reach their students in order to keep instruction on schedule.

 

“For the most part, the students have been supportive and appreciative with anything I try,” said Kurt Yuengling, Geology faculty at CCC. “Even if I bumble through it.”

 

Yuengling said that when he found out the students would not be returning, he sent out a poll to his students to figure out how to best move forward. He wanted to know which ones had access to the Internet and good computers.

 

“I didn’t want to exclude anybody,” Yuengling said. “As you know, we have students who live where there’s poor coverage or affordable cellphone plans for data usage.”

 

Based on the feedback, Yuengling created video lessons and labs of all the remaining material. He also made “packets” of information, so the students, wherever they could find connectivity, could download them from Canvas, the college’s online dashboard system for students. He also established Zoom web-conferencing sessions during the regular class times and message boards in Canvas for each class. The focus has been on the continuity of the experience for the students.

 

The hardest part of the switch was the loss of “community,” Yuengling said.

 

We’re small groups,” Yuengling said of the CCC faculty and their classes. “And we’re passionate about our interactions with students. So, the transition to not being able to do that has been the biggest challenge.”

 

EXTRA HOURS

Nate Southerland, provost at CCC, said that it was the faculty’s deep commitment to students that made the transition not only possible, but successful.

 

“They put in dozens of extra hours each, converting their materials and learning the new tools,” Southerland said, estimating that the extra hours add up to “thousands” collectively.

 

According to a document Southerland submitted to CCC’s accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, the college adjusted all face-to-face instruction for remote delivery in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The faculty achieved this task by using Zoom, other Internet tools like YouTube, and Canvas. Additionally, accommodations were made for those students who were experiencing challenges with connectivity, such as using the U.S. Postal Service and telephones. If they needed them, student could also get loaner computers from the CCC Information Technology Services department. Students also had the option to complete their coursework at a later date or receive refunds.

 

Yuengling said he continues to look at alternative ways to present information, that it’s a constant adaptation. As part of the Sciences faculty, he meets regularly with the Chemistry and Biology faculty, who have gone so far as to take their lab equipment home to provide demonstrations for their students via Zoom and YouTube.

 

He also said that, like a lot of his students and families throughout the country, his kitchen table and other areas at home have become multi-purpose areas to not only live family life, but to be effective at work.

 

REFRAMING TEACHING

David Cain, Construction Technology Management faculty at CCC, said, “I have looked at this COVID-19 as an opportunity more than a challenge to reframe and refresh the learning environment of our Career and Technical Education programs.”

 

Cain added that the experience has made him extend his virtual, online delivery approaches and methods to students.

 

“Many of us are providing more visual media and information now,” Cain said. “The results have surprised me in that the students really like the visual content, see and hear, but realize that the digital media they read serves an important foundational communication link.”

 

Cain has been making and posting YouTube videos for some of the industry and real-world work to augment the experiences that were meant to be in-person and hands-on. Also, the use of Zoom video conferencing by him and other CCC faculty to conduct “live electronic classes” may become more widely accepted and popular in the future.

 

In the end, Yuengling and Cain said the transition has been a learning experience and has offered a new view of teaching.

 

Cain said, “While I think that the in-person classroom setting is still the preferred option, new deliveries have opened my perspective toward offering a combination of these educational tools to enhance the learning environment.”

 

Yuengling said, “As frustrating as it is, I think a lot of us have learned new technologies that will definitely help us be better teachers in the future.”

 

Southerland said that it is his opinion that, for the future, online student dashboards will be used more than ever to help the students complete their activities and submit assignments without coming to campus. He was quick to add that CCC will continue to offer face-to-face classes, because many students prefer learning that way.

 

“I am so grateful to and proud of our faculty and staff and the care that they have shown toward our students,” Southerland said. “And I’m grateful to our students for being flexible as we’ve gone through this transition. I think we’re all better for it.”

 

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Category
News
Date
Tuesday, 28th April 2020
 
 

All Dates

  • Tuesday, 28th April 2020