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This content was published: September 29, 2020. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

From the Online Learning Desks

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This year to kick off the Best Practices Blog we present brief check in-s from the desks of our Online Learning management team who give us all a few words on their ʻlessons learned going remoteʻ and each give ʻone hope for the academic year.ʻ If this bulleted list format makes it feel like weʻre planning on keeping things simple, brief and focused this year, bingo! 

We will also be presenting faculty lessons learned so far in our shift to remote learning, as well as serving up topics that align with professional development opportunities available for you most weeks throughout the term- watch your email inbox for  “Faculty Training Opportunities This Week”  or find the Online Learning training schedule here.

So, without further ado:

Andy Freed- Manager Online Learning Technology and Student Success

Lesson learned being remote: Watching my kids’ “going remote” experience in K-12, it’s clear that PCC having 25 years of online learning experience really was a significant benefit. We had infrastructure in place, training in place, and a team that knows our instructors well. We were able to quickly adapt to providing training and support geared towards our instructors. Our strong teamwork meant that we could all share ideas, collect feedback, make decisions, and act swiftly. Everyone was engaged and worked with compassion and it helped carry them through the exhaustion.

One hope for the academic year: We’ve seen some amazing and some less-than-great responses to going remote both on the teaching side and the support side. My hope is that people recognize when the good practices work and keep doing them. 

Back in February, the online student service team presented at a local conference and the final slide said “Improving access to services for online students improves access for all students.” We had no idea how prophetic these words would be (at least at the pace COVID happened). Let’s make sure we keep the best of these student-focused practices in place because they worked before and during Remote and will continue after. 

Heather Guevara- Online Learning Division Manager

Lesson learned being remote: Remote work is really difficult even if you are teaching from pajama pants. Don’t expect to get all of the technology right, but don’t stop trying. Have reasonable expectations of yourself and your students. Communicating with your students is more important than getting everything right. Examples: Underestimated how much time it would take to grade their work? Use a Brightspace announcement to let them know you’re plugging away. 

One hope for the academic year: Other than this will all go away? I hope that we all grow to be more compassionate people. Joining our colleagues and students on Zoom in their living rooms, bedrooms, cars, kitchens, etc. is a type of vulnerability most of us never expected to share with them. Let’s admit that we don’t really know what to do with this level of self-disclosure. Let’s assume the best of our students and colleagues. 

I would also like to see a 50 minute maximum meeting run length for online meetings implemented institution-wide. We have to build in breaks intentionally. I am making an effort to check in with my child (or at least locate them) at least once per hour.

Rondi Schei- Program Manager II for Course Development

This may not be as much about lessons learned about going remote, but more about what I have observed and learned since “Going Remote.”  One, there is an abundance of support, if you’re willing to look and ask questions. I stepped into a new role during a very hectic time and everyone from HR, Deans, Chairs, Faculty, and my own departmental colleagues were there to provide me with guidance and advice. There is a sense of family here at PCC.  

Two, I’ve seen the value of teamwork shine. In the past months, I’ve worked more closely and collaboratively with a variety of people. Many of the best ideas and decisions are because of the added perspective and insight of others. Going remote does not undermine achieving this type of teamwork. Thank you!

Loraine Schmitt- Dean of Online Learning

Lesson learned being remote: Trust in others and in yourself are vital to successful remote work. During remote operations and teaching, we need to have faith that everyone has good intent, is doing their best to rise to the occasion, and trust that they will work diligently in the best interests of students and the college.  This time presents many complex and challenging situations in front of all of us, whether you are teaching, providing support, managing teams or providing leadership and decision-making. Building trust also takes engagement and connections with others.  At a division level, we have benefited from years of building trust and communication that helped carry us through the extraordinary shift and continued abundant work load of remote teaching, learning, and support. On a personal note, I learned that I have to be intentional about listening to music.   I highly recommend it as it’s medicine for the soul.  

One hope for the academic year: My hope is that everyone engages in conversations about what’s working, what’s not working, what would help support faculty and staff, and implement practical improvements to make the most of remote work.