There is always a fear of trying new things, especially when it comes to the technological unknowns of today. While teaching in person is most comfortable for instructors, that’s not an option right now – at least in the traditional sense.
Now, they have to navigate multiple (in some cases new) technologies to deliver engaging and impactful hybrid learning, and they’re worried that they won’t be able to provide the same quality level of education to their students.
However, if instructors are willing to embrace new ideas, technology, and techniques, they can lead the way for their peers while also providing excellent, engaging, and collaborative instruction for their students at a distance. Don’t just take our word for it.
Francine Long is a math instructor at Edgecombe Community College, and she is already a power user of video-based virtual teaching, well before it was a thing on her campus. Edgecombe Community College is located in Tarboro, North Carolina serving students all over the country. Francine was fully equipped to take her classes online in the spring with Mediasite and she is even more ready now for the fall. She is one of the many instructors leaning into this new normal with great optimism. We sat down with her to get her perspective on hybrid learning.
Q: What is it like to be an educator during the pandemic?
A: I fortunately was prepared in that I had already taught some online classes. I was teaching one online class with Mediasite and two in person courses in the spring, so I already had a general idea of how I was going to tackle converting my in-person courses. But it was still a scary time of many unknowns.
So I sort of knew what to expect.
What was unfortunate was seeing how many students who had to drop out due to the circumstances of the pandemic. Students had to stop taking classes to work more, to make up for lost finances, or take care of sick family members. This limited how much they could participate online for schooling. I did my best to establish a flexible and accessible learning environment for all my students. I have been sharing resources for acquiring jobs in the area, hotline numbers, and mental health assistance. It’s important as an educator to let students know that you are on their side.
Q: How are you using video technology to deliver assignments, lectures and schoolwork?
A: I heavily use Mediasite almost every day. I get up early and easily record my class content for the day and upload it to our Moodle learning management system.
I use a variety of tools to deliver my lesson: Moodle is obviously a huge one because that is where I publish all my content and where students spend the most time. I also use an app called Bamboo Paper that allows me to easily “write” and plan out lessons that I am recording. Mediasite is very easy to use and navigate. I also use Zoom to meet one–on–one with students for reviewing concepts as well as any troubleshooting matters.
Q: What do you like and dislike about virtual teaching?
A: I like that there are a lot more things to do with virtual learning than I realized. Being at home and being able to teach has opened a variety of doors, but as an educator I am taking every precaution. For instance, navigating an all online final exam was very tricky to proctor at first. I even had students send in their math lesson notes to make sure they were not cheating. I also have been sending out extra credit modules via Mediasite to make sure students are following along with the material.
Q: How do you keep your students engaged from a distance?
A: I try to be in constant contact with my students through videos and emails. I give them as much flexibility as possible with assignments because everyone has a unique situation.
I also try to create short videos to personalize learning and engage my students. They will come to me with questions on math problems or technological issues. It doesn’t take very long for me to create a quick video in Mediasite showing how to use a formula or how to get assignments uploaded. It allows for a very personal connection with my students.
Q: Where do you see the future of education going as we enter this new video-first reality?
A: We need to 100 percent embrace this new normal of virtual and hybrid courses. There is a strong possibility that we could end up all online for the full school year. I have been trying to prepare for that possibility by creating videos for my students that will help them navigate this new normal. I’m creating videos on topics like how to reset your password, how to register for online tutoring services, etc. My goal is to create real–time support that I would normally be able to give in a classroom. I know that if we go all in and embrace new tools that may seem scary, it will be possible to still deliver a quality education to our students and it will certainly be a school year we never forget.
It can be easy to be overwhelmed by classroom technology, but recording from home with Mediasite is very easy. I feel prepared to teach online classes this fall, and I encourage instructors who are hesitant to embrace video technology and start creating their own videos. It’s incredible what the power of video can do for your classrooms.