E-Learning Symposium Digital Praxis: Lived Experiences, Future Strategies

Janey Flanagan, E-Learning Center

 

The E-Learning Center hosted BMCC’s first E-Learning Symposium on March 24, 2014. The theme of the event was “Digital Praxis: Lived Experiences, Future Strategies.” Faculty and staff shared their ideas about e-learning course teaching strategies. Ideas discussed included effective ways to involve students in meaningful discussions, how to support students who stop “coming” to class, and ways to turn potentially controversial topics into teachable moments in the online environment. The purpose of the event was to inform and engage new faculty in e-learning, and to reengage faculty who are interested in trying new possibilities as our technical capabilities improve.

E-Learning: Faculty Driven

 

Dr. Robert Messina, Acting Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, opened the event by emphasizing the importance of e-learning at BMCC. He introduced the speakers, including panel moderator Benjamin Powell, Speech, Communications and Theatre Arts, and the panelists: Prof. Lisa Rose, Social Sciences and Human Services; Prof. Patricia Deleon, Science; Prof. Janet Douglas-Pryce, Speech, Communications, and Theatre Arts; and Prof. Bernardo Pace, English.

In her presentation, “2001-2014: Looking Back on 13 Years of Teaching (and Learning) Online,” Prof. Lisa Rose reviewed BMCC’s e-learning program from the perspective of a Faculty Coordinator of Distance Learning from 2003-2008. Prof. Rose has published articles about online pedagogy and practice and highlighted that course design is still at the core faculty driven. 


What are some of the trials, triumphs, and teachable moments of transitioning
from a hybrid Speech class to a fully online class? Prof. Janet Douglas-Pryce discussed this in her presentation, “The Tale of Two Classes: Going from Hybrid to Fully Online.” She said that her passion for teaching and learning has led her to further integrate educational technology into her repertoire by designing both hybrid and fully online speech courses. 

 

On-line Does Not Mean Easier

 

Prof. Patricia Deleon gave us “A Bird's Eye View of Anatomy and Physiology I Hybrid Course.” Prof. Deleon began teaching partially online Anatomy and Physiology courses in 2012 and is interested in furthering STEM in online courses at BMCC. She described the main challenges in teaching online and asked the question, does on-line mean easier? The panelists and discussion leaders explored this topic at length. The answer is decidedly “no” in many online courses; however the rigor and quality varies from course to course. There are many STEM online tools and simulations, which can supplement students work.

 

Prof. Bernardo Pace taught us about “Splicing the Warmth of the Voice into the Online Learning Mix.” According to Prof. Pace, “Splicing the voice into an online class increases a professor’s satisfaction and the virtual bond that can and should form between students and professors.”

 

“Conference calls, Blackboard Collaborate sessions, Jing or Camtasia voiceovers, or a podcast of a presentation or lecture are some of the tools that are at our fingertips and require just a few clicks,” Prof. Pace said. There are many tools tailored to the specific student and faculty needs. For example, Prof. Pace uses Jing to narrate commentary when a student has submitted a paper by adding a voiceover track. He also uses voices that are not his own. For example, he provides audio narrations to some of the reading material to help students learn.

 

Round-table Discussions

 

A series of round-table discussions provided in-depth analysis of various topics related to e-learning. Topics included student engagement (led by Prof. Caroline Pari-Pfisterer, English), retention and intervention strategies (led by Prof. Dale Dawes, Mathematics), STEM online (led by Prof. Nanette Van Loon and Prof. Sarah Salm, Science), tips and tricks to make online teaching easier and learning better (led by Prof. Claire Pamplin, English), the flipped classroom (led by Prof. Yoland Medina, Teacher Education), achievement-based learning (led by Prof. Joseph Bisz, English), and library services partnerships with faculty (led by Prof. Lane Glisson, Library, and Prof. Kelly Secovnie, English).

 

One of the key takeaways in many of the roundtable discussions was focused on pedagogy and actively engaging students in the learning environment. Prof. Medina showed us how instructors can facilitate engaged student discussions by providing students with resources of either reading or video tutorials to prepare them ahead of class.

A special thanks to all of those who assisted in planning this event, especially faculty presenters and discussion leaders, CETLS, and staff at the Media Center and E-Learning Center.

If you have thoughts of your own about strategies for improving pedagogy in online and hybrid courses, please join BMCC’s CUNY Academic Commons group for further discussion.