Lessons Learned Now will Serve Faculty upon Return to the Classroom

Nursing faculty are filmed by members of the IDD team

April 06, 2020
Dale Goodwin ('86)

“Nothing like a national emergency to get
me over my fear of using technology in the

Psychology Professor Anna Marie Medina’s
sentiment was echoed by many of her faculty
colleagues as they transitioned face-to-face
classes to digital formats for distance delivery
in barely two weeks.

“I’m proud of the way my colleagues have come
together to support each other through this
process. It makes me proud to be a Zag!” says
Annie Voy, associate professor of Economics.

“I’m grateful for the generosity of my
technically-skilled colleagues who have gone
out of their way to support those of us who
are technically challenged,” Medina says. “This
(enterprise) wouldn’t have been as successful
without their kindness and good humor.”

Some professors already had experience in
digital course design, and the learning curve
wasn’t so drastic. “Fortunately, I already used
Blackboard to post notes, homework and
quizzes. Most of my focus was on delivery of
actual course content via Zoom meetings and
recorded video lectures,” says Assistant Civil
Engineering Professor Joshua Schultz.

Others had to start from scratch getting
acquainted with a new tool box for course

Provost Deena González reports uninitiated
faculty are learning to capture and share
Ted-like talks on Blackboard, videos from
Kanopy via Foley Library’s subscription, and
use discussion boards that are easy in/easy
out, among many other tools making distance
delivery manageable.

“It was clear to me from the start that the
objective was not to explore everything
Blackboard could do for us, but to identify a
few tools that wouldn’t be hard to introduce
to our students in these circumstances,” says
English Professor Heather Easterling. “I did
make time to learn from IDD and CTA more
about incorporating Zoom and Kaltura, but
focused mostly on pedagogy.”

Nursing Lecturer Susan Edwards adapted
hands-on learning activities and in-person
demonstrations to online learning. “Finding
the right technology and learning how to
use it effectively to deliver content has been
challenging for me.”

Accounting Lecturer Cathy DeHart rigged a
computer cam over her desk on a plastic pipe
contraption she built, to allow students to
see her work through an accounting problem
as if she was doing so on a whiteboard in her

Most seem appreciative of their lessons
learned through this conversion process,
as Edwards describes, “This transition is
challenging me in ways I could have never
imagined, but I am growing into a better
educator in the process.”

Perhaps the greatest revelation of this
transition is the uniquely powerful bond
faculty members have formed with their

Some have found themselves dealing with
their students’ anxiety over the pandemic.
“Instruction hasn’t been my greatest concern,”
Voy says. “The hardest part has been trying
to support my students, many whom are
holed up in Seattle and other hard-hit areas.”
Lessons Learned

She sent her students a short survey during
the transition to assess their practical and
emotional preparedness for the circumstances.
She found many consumed with fear and
uncertainty surrounding the outbreak, and she
worries about her ability to gauge their wellbeing
without physical interaction.

Easterling has heard students talk about their
grief in losing their senior spring, intramural sports
and their community with students navigating
academics and campus life together.

“Teaching is very hard work, but the payoff of
interactions and conversations with students
can be as rich as it gets,” she says.
Overall, the students are embracing this
change, Edwards says. But she knows they are
looking forward to meeting in person again to
practice their skills.

Easterling was reminded what remarkable,
humane and thoughtful human beings her
students are. “They have been resilient, patient
and more concerned about me, at times, than
about anything else.”

“What has been very reinforcing to me has
been the number of students I’ve connected
with over the past week,” Medina says. “I’ve
had more students in virtual office hours this
past week than I had in the entire last year.
What’s more, it’s been great to see them
individually as people in their own particular
contexts. They are very likeable people.”

Most agree that they will come out of this
severe bump in the road better equipped
as educators when they return to their
conventional classrooms in the fall.