Safety – Flexibility – Adaptability
Being THE Community’s College, EICC is no stranger to leading the way when it comes to flexible class delivery options. Unlike many other institutions, we’ve offered evening, weekend and online classes for years and years. Our students range from recent high school graduates to working parents to military veterans and beyond, so flexibility has always been key.
Even so, with a global pandemic to worry about, students, faculty and staff all had to adapt their teaching and learning in new and unexpected ways. Thus, the development and expansion of Live Online classes began – a learning format that combines the convenience of virtual delivery with face-to-face interaction. Last spring we had to abruptly evolve how we deliver classes, taking what we’ve learned along the way to make the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters even better for students.
“We just really understood the critical importance of getting this transition going,” said Michelle Rasmussen, Dean of eLearning and Instructional Technology. “Before the start of the fall semester we held two weeks solid of training. We knew students and faculty needed to feel comfortable.”
Rasmussen’s team offered dozens of virtual training sessions, 60 plus hours to be exact, as well as addressed individual questions and concerns. This led to a whole lot of emails, phone calls and video conferences. Topics included everything from how to set-up an online classroom in the college’s learning management system, Canvas, to how to use the video conferencing platform Zoom for lectures and engagement.
“I think one of the cool things that underscores all of this is that we used Zoom to train the teachers in what they’re trying to teach. We used Zoom and we used Canvas, so we were flipping the script a bit on the faculty. They were able to experience and learn through the same technology they’ll be using to teach and that’s been beneficial,” Rasmussen said.
The fact the college already had many tools in place to create Live Online classes that were previously held face-to-face was a plus as well.
“We were so fortunate we already use Canvas and it is the best learning management system available,” said Rasmussen. “As a result, there are so many tools built into Canvas it allowed faculty to use as many bells and whistles as they wanted to manage their online classrooms.”
For example, faculty learned more about features such as video and voiceover recording, communication tools including discussion boards and announcements, and ways to upload or link to supplemental instruction. Many were already using some of these features, but as class delivery options continue to evolve, the “bells and whistles” prove incredibly useful.
“It’s a tool that allows them to be as effective as possible with reaching students. In fact, many faculty will continue to learn and integrate Canvas regardless of the course modality.”
Of course, we know there’s more work to do to continually improve the student experience, which is why the college sent out a survey in the fall to gather student feedback. In addition, a number of spring training sessions recently took place, and faculty have been invited to attend the Iowa Community Colleges Online Consortium’s (ICCOC) Virtual Conference next month. Whether classes are face-to-face, hands-on in a lab, Live Online or exclusively Online, we’re committed to delivering the safety, flexibility and adaptability students need to succeed.
“How effectively we can prepare faculty translates to how successful students will be,” Rasmussen said. “The bottom line is we really enjoy supporting faculty, and the rewarding part has been seeing growth.”
“We were challenged in a way we never have been before and it goes to show no matter the situation we can use the technology to support us.”
What students are saying about course delivery options
EICC Course Delivery Preference
Survey September 2020
- 85% consider course flexibility when scheduling courses
- 75% of students consider health and safety when selecting classes
- 84% agree the schedule allowed them to stay on track for graduation
- 77% agree a Live Online course is useful in gaining knowledge
- 72% agree a fully online course is useful in gaining knowledge
- 88% agree a fully on-campus class is useful in gaining knowledge
- 50% of EICC students took online classes in the Fall.