First, let me say that this is a story of my own personal experience and opinions and is not meant to represent the views of my colleagues in eLearning or the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Camosun College. Only they can tell their own stories.
It all started March 18th – the day we in CETL left our campus offices to begin working remotely. Well, it started a few days before that, but that Wednesday was the day we all knew we couldn’t continue to work in our offices with the pandemic spread looming large. The next couple of weeks are a bit of a blur as the college “pivoted” and the new reality started to sink in for all of us.
Fast forward to April, and the sudden realization that we needed to offer workshops – workshops up the wazoo. There were no CETL workshops planned for April, but in the end and on the fly, we ended up running 20+ workshops for faculty on D2L, Collaborate, Kaltura, facilitating online learning, creating online community, online assessments, and accessibility in the online classroom – all were full, and we were sending recordings to people who couldn’t get in. At the end of every day, every day being 10-12 hours long (workshops, consults, emails…), I could not think or hold myself upright. Yes, it was exciting to help faculty and run workshops with 20-30 people in them (people now know who we are!), but exhausting. And not just because of those endless consults, workshops, and emails, but also because I heard faculty members’ stories. Faculty in tears trying to get things ready for spring and afraid they couldn’t do it. Faculty worried because they didn’t know where they could turn for help. Faculty up for the challenge, but not knowing how they could get everything planned to the quality they expected from themselves.
Then, the spring term began, while workshops, consults, and meetings continued here in eLearning, all revolving around figuring out how to keep faculty supported, while planning ahead to the next day, week, month, and term.
I have to tell you, and I am not trying to sound trite: faculty at Camosun are all heroes. From the faculty members who pivoted into remote panicked instruction in March (believe me, this was NOT online learning), to faculty who gave up vacation, Scheduled Development time, and other plans to get their spring courses ready for online instruction (some of them developing 2-3 courses in a couple of weeks, when it takes 2 months or ideally more to develop ONE online course – I don’t have to tell you it is not a simple matter to take a f2f course, even one you’ve taught multiple times, and put it into an online format), to faculty who are spending many additional hours every day continuing to develop their courses while they teach, while trying to support their students, who also didn’t sign up for this. And in addition to all the amazing faculty I am privileged to work with and support, I have to take a moment to acknowledge my colleagues in CETL – I am not sure I would still be here without them having my back.
Now we are trying to figure out the fall term, so I am trying to give faculty my own personal advice: plan for the worst, even if you are hoping for the best. Plan to teach online, primarily asynchronously (D2L), but ask for synchronous time (Collaborate) to be added to the schedule so your students will expect to be online for a few sessions at least – bookending D2L with a few strategic Collaborate sessions is one best bang for the buck scenario, in my opinion. Don’t count on face to face, unless you are teaching a course that absolutely requires students to be on campus for applied work. Students will need a clear idea of what will be happening in September- remember that they can’t turn on a dime to move back to Victoria mid-term even if we can begin face to face offerings again sometime in the fall.
And finally, for everyone reading this, feel free to check out our eLearning tutorials – they are all CC licenced and free to take away, use, or adapt!
Stay safe everyone.
Emily Schudel, Instructional Designer, eLearning, Camosun College (email@example.com)