Camosun College Open Sustainability Project Introduction

Just over one year ago, eight projects were funded to develop/redevelop their courses using open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP). This funding came from a grant awarded to Camosun College from BCcampus, and has brought together 11 faculty members, librarians, copyright experts, instructional designers, curriculum developers, indigenization specialists, and others to work on the projects. In this panel session, some of the faculty developers will talk about their projects and the benefits they are bringing to their students, and to Camosun.

I don’t know if you remember a year ago, well…maybe I’ll leave it at that. Suffice it to say that while at that time, one year ago, the projects were to have been concluded by the end of this term, unexpected events have pushed the deadlines for completion until the end of this year. That being said, all 8 projects are underway in spite of the challenges faculty have faced moving their regular teaching online.

In this post, I am going to tell you a little bit about the eight funded projects, and in subsequent posts, I will be telling you the stories of the project journeys in the words of the faculty members creating the resources, open textbooks, etc.

Sarah Erdelyi, Jana Suraci, and Alex Purdy – Development of a Resource Package for Patient Management for Allied Health

The development of a resource package for this course, incorporating OER, would eliminate the need to require commercial textbooks and provide a learning resource for students that is highly relevant and focused to meet their needs. This course is shared among three programs in the Allied Health & Technologies Department, including Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant, Medical Radiography, and Sonography, and this package of resources will support these varied allied health contexts. Because the current textbook required for Medical Radiography is not suitable for the other allied health programs, the student experience differs greatly by program, so the development of a resource package would also ensure consistency of the student experience. In addition to the cost savings to students, we believe the students would benefit greatly from a common resource that considers the Canadian context and emphasizes the specific competencies related to their professional certification in a way that is learner-centric and applied.

Michelle Clement – Revising an Existing Marketing Open Textbook

This Digital Marketing Open textbook is severely outdated, having been published in 2013. The cases, links, and social media chapters in particular need updating, as well as individual topics in current chapters around internet security, ethical marketing online, marketing social and environmental injustices digitally, and cultural inclusion in online marketing. It would also be beneficial to create instructor resources. So this was a proposal for adapting an existing OER to produce a no cost to students required textbook. Michelle’s hope was also that sections would provide good background for other marketing classes, and that there would be there is potential to grow its use outside of her current course. While the textbook Michelle ultimately revised was a different one than she originally planned, she did take an existing 600-page textbook and reduce it to approximately 200 pages, updating and reorganizing content as proposed. She has future plans to add instructor resources and visuals to her revision before moving it into Pressbooks to share back with the world.

Pooja Gupta – Adapt an Existing Math OER

Pooja’s objective was to adapt the OER Key Concepts of Intermediate Level Math by Meizhong Wong for her online intermediate math section for adult learners. The scope of this project was to include adaptations to the original open textbook as well as create ancillary resources such as lesson videos, question video solutions, PowerPoints, quizzes/quiz bank, interactive videos, etc. Due to copyright restrictions on the content she has currently been using, it has not been possible to adapt to the changing needs of her students. The adapted version and ancillary resources would have the following benefits: significant financial savings for students; the ability to embed these resources into a learning management system (LMS); and ease of access for students through having the materials open online, and within the LMS students are already accessing.

Peggy Hunter – Human Anatomy WordPress Site Revisions

Laboratory study of human anatomy typically utilize an assortment of models and slides, and student access to these resources is often very limited. Institutions that have these models and slides in their labs cannot typically provide access to these materials outside of laboratory classroom time. Other institutions do not offer labs or laboratory resources, and students have no access to human anatomy models and slides. To facilitate the study and review of anatomy laboratory content at Camosun, Peggy has developed a study website (in WordPress) that provides access to all of the models and slides commonly used in first year human anatomy labs. The website, designed so students can test their knowledge of human anatomy lab content outside of the laboratory setting, is currently used extensively by first year anatomy students in the Health Science and Exercise Science programs, provides valuable access to anatomy models and slides outside of classroom time, and facilitates self-review of laboratory content. The goal of this project was to update the website content to enhance user interface with the end goal of making this laboratory study website available as an open resource for students of human anatomy everywhere. The latter would facilitate expanded use by students of anatomy at Camosun (in nursing, sport education, athletic therapy, dental hygiene, massage therapy, etc.). Moreover, this Camosun resource would be a valuable contribution to the global open learning community.

Stephanie Ingraham – Create Open Textbook for the Physics of Medical Imaging

For the past three years, Stephanie has been teaching a Physics course for students in the Medical Radiography program at Camosun College, The Physics of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy. This course is very unique, and there is a limited selection of textbooks and materials that suit the course curriculum meaning that previously, textbooks or course packs purchased by students have been used. Her goal was instead, to create an open textbook on BCcampus which would provide a simple, free method of allowing students access to resources for the course. The textbook would also include sections on general Physics topics, which will be available for use in introductory Physics courses. The development of this textbook would also involve carefully creating accessible content for all types of learners such as voice to text capabilities, transcription of images, and ideal visual contrast. As of now, there are no other OER that cover this selection of topics specific to the Physics of medical imaging and radiation therapy. Hopefully this will become a useful, free resource for Camosun college students as well as an open resource for students interested in the field of Medical Physics.

Brian Coey – Developing/Revising Materials for Sheet Metal Programs

Currently in the Sheet Metal program, students are required to purchase textbooks for foundation training and level one apprentice training. The program loans textbooks, no longer in print, for apprentice levels two through four. Unfortunately, this is a problem for the students as they have very little reference material once they finish their training at Camosun, and they must rely on notes and outside resources to prepare for further training and Interprovincial (Red Seal) exams. This also creates a difficult situation because once the program runs out of textbooks, they have no other resources at hand to lend out. Brian’s project was to allow him to create new and update current Level 1 material, including student and instructor resources, in an open textbook format through Pressbooks. A combination of open textbooks, course modules, multimedia resources, web resources and videos would all be added to the already existing resources, to create an open learning resource, available to students whenever needed.

Sandra Carr – Developing/Revising Materials for Joinery (Woodworking) Program

The BC Joinery modules have not been revised since 1988, and some sections are outdated. Visually, they lack imagery that portrays modern tools, and some sections refer to a textbook that is very dated, possibly out of print. While existing open Trades textbooks contain relevant material, they contain topics not applicable to woodworking, and there are topic-specific areas which either require expansion, or completely new materials to fill gaps. There is no textbook for woodworking machinery, which makes up a significant portion of term 1 learning outcomes, and currently Sandra is using a mix of photocopied handouts to support her students. Her proposal was to write an open textbook Describe Woodworking Machines and Their Use, as well as edit the existing Common Core materials for use in her program. She would use this textbook in her course, but it could also find an audience with other trades, foundation programs, Women in Trades, Continuing Education, and high schools. Video tutorials would also be created to cover selected topics based on the specific projects students complete in the program.

Liz Morch – Developing Modules to Support Nutrition Content for Various Programs

Liz had begun to design online modules for her nutrition course in Dental Hygiene , but recognized the need to provide flexibility in how and when students access course content.  After searching BCcampus and Creative Commons, she was unable to find existing open content relating to nutrition which would be applicable to her course.  Her project, therefore was to develop modules for use, not only in her course, but as resources for faculty who teach any nutrition courses.  The modules will also have evaluation tools in the form of online assessments.  While some individual components are available through Health Canada, students require more information, in the form of text-based content, images, and interactive components to support their learning.

Camosun eLearning Updates

There have been some changes with some of the tools we support here in eLearning at Camosun we wanted to let you know about here:

D2L/Colleague Integration

The new D2L/Colleague Integration will result in changes and improvements to the faculty and student experience in D2L. Read our CETL notice to learn more.

Coming Soon to Collaborate: Gallery View with 25 Simultaneous Videos

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has been working on improvements to its video gallery to enable Moderators and Participants to view up to 25 simultaneous video feeds. Moderators will see up to 25 simultaneous video feeds beginning April 8, and Participants will get access to this functionality later in the month. Note that we still recommend not having all videos active all the time during a session to conserve bandwidth especially for students with poor connections.

Read our CETL notice to learn more about what’s coming to Collaborate in the future.

Beth Cougler Blom: Design to Engage – new Book!

Beth Cougler Blom is a learning designer/teacher/facilitator/consultant who has worked in post-secondary education, as well as the government and community organizations, most notably for me with BCcampus and Royal Roads, for over 20 years.

If you are looking for strategies around designing and facilitating learning, check out her new book, “Design to Engage: “a “how to” book that will help you become an effective designer and facilitator of learning events. You will:

  • learn about facilitation roles and responsibilities
  • discover what good learning experiences look like
  • plan for and design effective learning events using practical, straightforward design strategies
  • raise your awareness about how to create inclusive, comfortable environments.”

I am looking forward to reading her book myself soon, and recommend you find out more at Beth Cougler Blom’s website!



eLearning Workshops for Spring (April-June)

Getting ready for your scheduled development?  Registration is now open for the eLearning Spring term workshops.  Here is the list of workshops, along with descriptions and dates/times.  Please contact Emily Schudel ( with any questions – your questions will be forwarded to the appropriate workshop facilitator if needed.

Getting Started with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Web Conferencing

Monday, April 26: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Collaborate is a web-conferencing tool that integrates with D2L. This session will provide you with a basic overview of the tools and functions within Collaborate as well as provide instructors with tips on how to use this tool to connect with students and facilitate effective learning experiences.

Getting Started with D2L

Tuesday, April 27: 11:00am-12:30pm

Description: This workshop will provide you with an overview of the essential teaching tools available in our learning management system, D2L Brightspace.

What’s New in D2L

Wednesday, April 28: 10:00-11:00am

Description: Every month brings new features to D2L, which you may or may not have noticed yet. In this session we will go over some of the highlights and also provide you with a preview of the new grades export from D2L to Colleague that will be available for faculty to use beginning summer 2021.

Content Management in D2L

Monday, May 3: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Come learn how to build content in D2L. We’ll begin with an overview of the content tool and the importance of content organization and getting a handle on file management before diving into how to upload your materials and layer in activities and assessments.

Articulate 360: An Overview

Monday, May 3: 1:00-2:30pm

Description:  TBD

Articulate 360: Content Management

Tuesday, May 4: 10:00-11:30am

Description:  TBD

Managing Assignments in D2L

Tuesday, May 4: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: This workshop will explore ways to modernize asynchronous discussions and create an engaging learning experience for your students. We’ll provide an overview of how to facilitate creative discussions and demonstrate how to set up private groups.

Introduction to Quizzing in D2L

Wednesday, May 5: 10:00-11:30am

Description: This workshop will explore ways to create, customize and grade quizzes, tests and/or exams. We will also demonstrate how to organize your questions in the Question Library.

Take the First Steps in Creating Accessible Content for your Online Classroom

Wednesday, May 5: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: Before you add more content to your online course, how confident are you that it is accessible? If students are using personal devices to access the content in your course, will the materials resize to fit on different-sized screens and devices? If students are using assistive technologies such as text-to-speech screen-readers, will your content be available in the format they require?

Take the first steps to make your text-based online course content more accessible to a diverse population of students. This session will guide you through some of the key steps you can take when creating Word documents, PowerPoints, PDFs and webpages, to ensure they are as technically-accessible as possible.

Text-to-Speech Support for Students: An Orientation to the ReadSpeaker tools in Your D2L Course

Thursday, May 6: 10:00-11:00am

Description: Did you know that we have 3 text-to-speech tools integrated into our D2L environment? ReadSpeaker’s webReader, docReader, and TextAid tools are available for any student to access in D2L and they don’t require students to download or install anything to use them.

Text-to-speech tools support Universal Design for Learning by giving students the option of listening to the content they are reading online. For instructors, the integrated ReadSpeaker tools can also provide quick feedback on how accessible your content files are to students with visual disabilities.

Attend this info session to learn more about how the ReadSpeaker tools can support accessibility and inclusive practices in your D2L courses.

Creating Great, Accessible Kaltura Capture Videos

Thursday, May 6: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: Kaltura Capture is a desktop recorder that is part of the Kaltura Streaming Media service that enables instructors and students to create videos that capture web cams, screens, and audio. This session will provide you with an in-depth overview of the tools and tips on how to create effective and accessible videos.

Facilitating Creative Online Discussions

Friday, May 7: 10:00-11:30am

Description: The Assignment tool enables students to submit assignments online while streamlining the grading process for instructors. This workshop provides an overview of creating, managing and grading assignments.

Articulate 360: Choose Your Own Adventure

Friday, May 7: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: TBD

Introduction to the ALLY tool in D2L: Designing for Accessibility & Inclusion

Monday, May 10: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Wondering what to make of the Accessibility Report in your D2L course site, or the accessibility feedback in your D2L Content? These are just some of the features of Ally, a tool we have integrated into our D2L environment.

Ally doesn’t change how anything works in your course, and won’t affect your course files. For instructors, Ally provides feedback on how to correct technical accessibility issues with your digital course content. The more technically-accessible learning materials are, the better they will work for students on mobile phones and tablets as well for students who use assistive technologies to access content.

For students, Ally provides “alternative formats” of your Content files, allowing them to choose from a range of options to access content in a file format most appropriate for their device and need.

Attend this info session to learn more about how Ally can support accessibility in your D2L courses.

Introduction to Open Education and Open Educational Resources

Monday, May 10: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: At the heart of the Open Education movement lies the idea that publicly-funded knowledge and knowledge products (textbooks, curricula, lecture notes, tests, assignments, video, images) should be made freely available to the public (including students). As educators dedicated to the creation and transfer of knowledge this idea is appealing. But how does it work? What constitutes Open Education Resources (OER)? How are they licensed? Where can you find them? What are the best ways to use them? In this workshop we will explore how to use Open Education Resources to remove barriers to education.

Setting Up Your Gradebook in D2L

Tuesday, May 11: 11:00am-12:30pm

Description: This workshop will focus on the basics of setting up a Gradebook from start to finish. We will provide you with an overview of key functionality while also sharing some best practices.

Using Rubrics to Streamline Your Assessment Process

Part 1 – Tuesday, May 11: 1:00-2:00pm

Part 2 – Tuesday, May 18: 1:00-2:00pm

Description: This is a two part workshop over two weeks: Session 1 addresses the pedagogical theory of rubrics and Session 2 address the practical application in D2L.  Two main themes are explored in the first rubric session: the pedagogical advantage of digital rubrics; and how to build a nuanced and sophisticated rubric.

Some advantages to a well constructed rubric seem obvious – established standards, consistent feedback, and efficiency – other advantages are less obvious – immediacy, considered criteria, and pedagogical renewal. In the first part of this session participants will consider the positive pedagogical impact of a digital rubric.  The second theme of this first day examines the major considerations when building a rubric. Participants will consider categories, gradients, ranking and weighting, iteration, and personalization. Along with a variety of suggestions and tips, participants will be provided a template to start their building their own rubric.

The goal of the first session is to furnish participants with the perspective and tools to craft their own draft rubric between session one and session two.

Session two will provide an overview of how using the Rubric tool in D2L can help to streamline the assessment process, including how to create a rubric in D2L, attach it to various assessment items, and mark student work using the rubric.

Advanced Quizzing in D2L

Wednesday, May 12: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Picking up from the Introduction to Quizzes, in this workshop we will explore in more depth how to set up Sections for holding text, audio, and video information, Question Pools to allow you to randomize questions from a larger bank, Special Access accommodation settings, using TextAid with Quizzes for accessibility, and some other advanced features.

Working with Master Courses

Thursday, May 13: 1:00-2:30pm

Description: Master courses are an excellent way to ensure consistency in course delivery across multiple sections and increase workload efficiencies for instructors. However, master courses also require annual review and maintenance in order to reap their benefits. This workshop will help course owners assess the current state of their master courses and develop a strategy to ensure the courses are read to go for September. Come to the session with any questions and concerns you have about your course. Workshop participants may want to book a follow-up one-on-one session with an instructional designer for individual training and support.

Introduction to H5P

Friday, May 14: 1:00-3:00pm

Description: H5P technology makes it possible to integrate interactive learning elements into HTML pages in D2L, WordPress, or Pressbooks. H5P applications include formative quizzes (with immediate feedback), flash cards, slide decks, images with clickable hotspots, and interactive videos; see: for more information. This workshop will introduce you to a range of H5P applications that are commonly used to support teaching and learning. During the workshop you will build some H5P content that you can reuse to support your own courses.

Using the Accessibility Reports in D2L: What should I do first? (And how do I do it?!)

Monday, May 17: 10:00-11:30am

Description: As you add documents, PDFs, webpages, and PowerPoints in D2L course content, you will now receive feedback and Accessibility Reports from Ally on how “accessible” your files are (as defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines – WCAG). The more accessible your file format is, the better the experiences for students will be, including students working with mobile devices, tablets and assistive technologies.

In this workshop, we will look at some of the feedback instructors commonly receive from Ally, including what the feedback means and what you can do with it to improve the accessibility of your content. You are welcome and encouraged to share Ally feedback you have received and have questions about.

Spring Cleaning

Wednesday, May 19: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Do you have a development site or a course offering that is need of clean up? Question libraries that need tweaking or manage files that need organization? This hands-on workshop will cover key best practices surrounding course maintenance and efficiencies in how to manage release dates associated with your course from one central location in D2L (saving you time!).

Enhancing Your Courses with Video: An Introduction to Kaltura

Thursday, May 20: 10:00-11:00am

Description: Kaltura is Camosun College’s streaming media service that offers easy-to-use video management and creation tools that integrate directly into D2L. Think of it as Camosun’s own YouTube service. This means faculty and students now have a place to create, edit, and house their course-related videos from one central location. This hands-on workshop will provide you with a high level overview of the Kaltura tools and get you started with using them in one of your courses. The workshop will be more meaningful if you come with a video to work with.

Going Deeper with Videos and Kaltura

Thursday, May 20: 2:00-3:30pm

Description: If you have dabbled with Kaltura this year, you may be ready to learn more about the service’s capability. This hands-on session will cover advanced Kaltura topics, including video editing and chaptering, editing closed captions, creating video quizzes and linking video quizzes to the gradebook. To get the most of out the session, come prepared with some videos ready to edit and/or develop into a quiz.

Designing for Engagement: Moving Beyond Text and Images

Tuesday, May 25: 10:00-11:30am

Description: Come learn how to transform your content to accommodate a variety of learning styles and abilities. We’ll begin with an overview of the content tool and its functionality to get you started with building content. We’ll then explore how you can transform various types of content including (but not limited to): PDFs, PPT and Word documents to a web-accessible format that improves the teaching and learning experience.

Online Assessments Workshop

Thursday, June 3: 10:00-12:00

Description: Worried about how to assess your students in an online environment?  This workshop will be led by Faculty Development, Program Renew, and eLearning to help you with your move to online assessments.

Flipping the Classroom

Tuesday, June 2-June 9: Asynchronous component opens (in D2L – you will receive information on how to access the course site in an email)

Tuesday, June 9: 10:00-11:30 Synchronous Component (in Collaborate)

Description: In a flipped classroom students engage with learning content such as lectures and other materials outside of class to prepare for an active learning experience in the classroom. Join us as we explore how to take this concept into our current fully online world. How can we make the best use of our real time synchronous classes as opportunities for active engagement, by augmenting them with asynchronous learning activities? In this workshop we will demonstrate an example of providing content in advance, and using our synchronous time for active engagement. Come prepared to share your ideas.

Custom Collaborate Workshops

Does your department or team need some custom training on advanced features in Collaborate, such as creating breakout groups, or need strategies to engage students in online synchronous sessions? If so, include your name, contact information, and a brief description of your needs and we will follow up with you.

Camosun Faculty Story #4: Bree

Bree teaches Statistics at Camosun College. I didn’t really get to know her until the great pivot last March, and during May and June when she worked moving her courses to fully online for the Fall. Bree did not really use D2L to support her teaching before COVID, but used an online homework system external to D2L for class assignments. So, moving online she was pretty much, aside from those assignments, starting from scratch.

Bree told me she was lucky to have scheduled development planned for May and June, but in order to develop two courses (in the Fall she taught two sections of one course, and one section of another), those two months ended up being “really four because I did work through the summer too, to build my courses.”

Having not used D2L for content delivery before, Bree found that one of the biggest challenges she faced was “figuring out how to translate the content that I would usually lecture into something that was a good online format…how am I going to do this so that it still gets the essence of my teaching?” And the second challenge she faced, as many of you will relate to, was time. “You are no longer just presenting a lecture. Now, I am typing the lecture, audio recording the lecture, uploading the lecture, you know, like it was taking three times as long to do one thing. So the time was a big one.”

I asked Bree if she finds now that all the work she did last term helped her with the current term (she is teaching one of the same classes this term), and she reflected on her experience from last term, working from 7am until 11pm every night, “I was exhausted and it was horrible.” But that time has now paid off and she can spend her time fixing things, creating more assessments, and teaching – because while last term Bree taught entirely asynchronously, this term, Bree has added a synchronous component to her teaching. And she does like this blended mode better because “I feel like I have more contact with the students. I feel like the students know me better and reach out to me more because they see me in those live sessions. They know my personality and I’m not just a name.”

As for rewards, Bree feels grateful to have some good work-life balance happening now. Being able to take a quick 15 minute break to make tea or load up the wood stove makes life a bit less hectic. But she also says that she misses the kind of student interaction she had face to face. “There have been students that I’ve connected with who have been sort of less shy to come on a video chat with me, and so I’ve really held onto those because that’s why I’m a teacher. I like that kind of interaction.”

Bree does have some advice for anyone who will be moving their courses online: “build carefully for long-term benefits…thinking about this as being a course that you can use again and again and again and again…spend the time thinking about what it is you want and doing it carefully and comprehensively so you don’t have a lot of adjusting to do in the future.” And also, if possible, take online courses or find some way to experience online learning as a student. Bree took some of the workshops eLearning offered last May/June and “noticed that I got bored after 5-10 minutes, just staring at a screen….When we were first learning [to put our content online], it was like we were trying to figure out how to go from an hour-long lecture to something that captured that, and our immediate response was to do an hour-long lecture (as a video recording). It makes no sense…it’s not the same.”

Would she continue to use what she’s learner and built? Bree says yes. “Maybe I would do sort of a combo of that going forward…[for example, if] somebody’s away and needs to know the lecture or watch the lecture. I could post that, or I could do the webpages as well as doing the in-person classes.” Which I consider to be the best of both worlds: having that student connection face to face, as well as providing students with flexible options for accessing course material.

Bree wraps things up by telling me that “the hardest part was having a plan. Once I had a plan, I was okay.” She had to work really hard for a while to get there, but in the end she says “I have enjoyed it. Once I got through that first term, I have enjoyed it.”

Camosun Faculty Story #3: Lynda

I’ve known Lynda for a while now. I remember back in the days before COVID, before the Nursing group moved to a brand new building on Interurban Campus (I work at Lansdowne Campus), running up to her office every once and a while when she had questions about setting up tools in her D2L course site (she primarily used the Assignment drop-boxes and posted some Content to support students outside of class time.) I would sometimes run a mini-workshop for all four faculty members in her office – ah, I miss those days.

Lynda recently “sat down” with me again to talk about her experiences moving to online teaching. She confessed, “I think at first I was terrified because … I’m not really adept at using technology…So it was quite threatening for me to have to move into an online world when we had to adjust to using D2L and teaching online. But since that time, I think I’ve done my very best to learn as quickly as I can and then apply that to my classroom.” And she definitely has!

Last March, Lynda was teaching clinical practice groups. It was challenging moving from an in-person-care learning experience to “suddenly creating whole new learning activities that would…provide students with an opportunity to apply theory in an online learning setting. So it was a challenge and we actually worked as a team. There were…probably ten instructors, all contributing ideas and trying to create learning activities.” Last fall, Lynda was lucky enough to have her clinical groups back in face to face practice, but her three-hour theory course remains completely online. “[W]e usually have about an hour and a half of synchronous class time, then I post activities or other things to … support their learning.”

Aside from having to design new strategies for moving face to face activities online, Lynda says the biggest challenge for her has been missing the non-verbal cues she relies on in the classroom, something I think many faculty unused to teaching online can relate to. “[I]n a classroom of 40, I’m watching people’s faces, I’m looking for their expressions, their body language. [I]f you say, are there any questions and nobody responds, I’m still watching the non-verbal [cue]s to see if they’ve got it or they don’t. …In the online environment, it was a real challenge…because when you ask, do you understand or are there any questions and no one responds,…it’s really difficult to assess.” One trick Lynda learned was to “establish 1-to-1 communications – I wasn’t talking to a class of 40 anonymous people. I was learning who they are person by person and connecting with them as much as I could… establish[ing] that there were people out there who were listening and maybe as stressed about being in an online environment as I was, and acknowledging that with them…And I think after a while they became more open with me because I was willing to be authentic and open with them.”

But there have been rewards too. “When I first started, I was so nervous and trying to do the best I could to create an online community for [students] and make sure I was meeting their learning needs … I think the biggest positive has been that they’ve acknowledged that they can really tell that I’m trying hard. I do regular check-ins … just to see, are they getting what they need from me? And is the learning going well? And so far, the feedback has been quite good.” But in addition to student feedback giving Lynda confidence, she also has found herself enjoying this new mode of teaching. “When I first started, I thought, I’m not going to enjoy any of this…But I think taking the FLO (Facilitating Learning online) course as well as all those little short workshops…[a]nd then working with colleagues – some of our course teams would get together and do a little practice sessions that really helped build my confidence … [A]ll these little things: after I’d done them one or two or three times and it got smoother, I think my stress started to melt away a little bit and I just started enjoying the online learning environment. And also building that sense of community which I didn’t think we would be able to do online – I think all of those things contributed to my comfort in the online environment.”

Lynda also shared some advice she has for people who might just be starting to move online. First, “really be structured with posting a news item every week to let the students know exactly where they should be in their studies and where they should be focused on in the modules. And then the second part is that synchronous approach… to be creative and provide lots of different types of learning opportunities in the synchronous sessions.” Lynda’s synchronous sessions are no longer than an hour and a half at a time, and “[r]ather than doing hour and a half lectures, [I] pre-record 15-20 minutes of content, letting them look at that independently, and then just make the online environment more of an exchange with learning activities that satisfy, rather than me trying to lecture them on there.”

Will she keep using some of the tools she’s learned to use when her classes return to face to face? Lynda says yes, especially “pre-recording [course material which] I think is really helpful for the students. And also it is more welcoming to them if they know who you are before they get to the classroom. If you can share bits of yourself with them and they start developing trust in who you are, it helps them when they enter a classroom, whether that’s an online classroom or an in-person classroom.” Finishing by noting “I’ll always enjoy them face-to-face more, but I can still connect and support and provide them with learning when we’re not face-to-face.”

I want to note that stories like Lynda’s make it sound like moving your courses online, during a pandemic or not, is easy once you get through your initial anxiety. But it’s not, and it wasn’t. Faculty here at Camosun, and at institutions all over, had (and continue to have) huge struggles and hurdles to overcome with very little time and sometimes limited support, giving up evenings, weekends, vacation, etc. to make sure they best serve their students. Developing fully online courses in a pandemic is not the model we should want to subscribe to, but I am going to keep celebrating all the faculty (even those whose stories I am not able to tell) who faced their fears and stress and made it happen in spite of it all.