eLearning at Camosun College

Tutorials, Workshops, and More!

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Camosun Faculty Story #35: Alison

Alison is a faculty member in the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) at Camosun.  While she does not currently teach in the classroom, she works very closely with Camosun students who register for accommodations through CAL.  When COVID moved us all online in March 2020, Alison says she “was new to CAL, and was just starting to understand the pre-covid CAL systems. So for me, it was interesting because all of a sudden I was on a more level playing field with everybody else because moving online was new for us all.”  For Alison herself, she found working virtually “promoted better teamwork in the department. We could meet so easily, whereas before, because CAL has offices on both campuses, it was always complicated to have regular meetings.  But all of a sudden it was so easy to meet, and I thought we worked extremely well together to re-invent ourselves.”

In addition to how teamwork in CAL had to change, the way CAL worked with students also had to change.  “We had to rethink every step of our processes and really consider how we were going to make things work for the students.  And by the end of last summer we had a really good system in place for meeting the needs of all students.”  Of course, there were bumps along the way.  Normally, making such huge changes to how you serve students requires time, study, talking to students, etc.  But last year, this was impossible.  Alison noted that for students for whom coming in for face-to-face appointments is intimidating, “moving to online was wonderful because this whole weight lifted from them, which opened my eyes to how we can provide a more diverse and inclusive service to everyone. I don’t think I realized fully how in-person meetings didn’t serve some students. From extreme social anxiety to physical disabilities, there are many reasons why our penchant for face-to-face isn’t convenient or comfortable for many students. Why should they have to come to meet with me face to face when we can easily do it differently?”

In terms of technology, Alison reflects that CAL had to use things differently with the pivot.  “We had a front desk where students dropped in to ask questions, and the faculty had in-person drop-in hours as well, but we had to figure out how to handle drop-ins virtually. Now, I have virtual drop-in times, so that when a student has a question, they don’t have to book an appointment, meaning I can respond to them quickly.”  In addition, Alison noted that CAL had to rethink how they provided support to students for exams.  She didn’t want to speak to that herself, except to say “CAL Exams had to do some really interesting things in terms of accommodated exams.  For example, if a student needs a reader or a scribe, how do you do that with technology so that the student is at home, while the scribe and the invigilator are both somewhere else entirely?”

Alison noted something I think many of us felt last year: how challenging it was (some days more than others) to not just have to pivot online, but to live through a world-wide shut-down, with a pandemic raging around us, while working to support students and instructors through normal course-related concerns like completing coursework, assessments, and writing exams. But in spite of all the chaos, CAL somehow “had to review all our systems and evaluate our processes, and then figure out how we were going to change them to support this completely new scenario.  And of course, sometimes we made decisions, only to later discover something that didn’t make sense because of something else we hadn’t thought of.”  I reflected to myself how we in eLearning had a similar experience: we had to make a lot of changes in the moment, without having the time to do them as mindfully as we would have preferred.

But Alison sees huge rewards coming from moving online because CAL can now offer students more choice in the ways they can interact with CAL.  “For many students the move to online was a huge gift. I worked with students who said this was what they had always wanted – for health reasons, social anxiety, or the whole realm of challenges our students face – to remove the pressure of having to come to campus for everything.  It was a huge game changer for them, and I suspect some students will be dreading the idea of having to go back on campus. I really hope the institution remembers the good that came out of last year.”

Alison ended our interview with some comments about her view on how COVID has affected the way we interact with each other at the college.  “I think it changed not just how we supported students, but about how we communicated with other areas of the college. COVID in a way has made some of our silos disappear. If you’re in this building and I’m in that building, we see each other as separate. But when we’re just a Teams meeting away from a conversation, it becomes easier to work together within the institution. So in some ways I find it’s helped working relationships, and made communicating and collaborating easier.”  Like Alison, my personal hope is that we keep all of what we learned over the past, stressful year, and continue to use the best tools to support, communicate, and collaborate with our fellow students, faculty, and employees.

Reminder of where to get help with D2L, Collaborate, and Kaltura

As we gear up for the new school year, I wanted to remind you of some important information related to D2L, and for online teaching/learning, both for faculty and students.

For Students:

For Faculty:

Wondering where to get help?  You can get help from eLearning Support, or book an appointment with an instructional designer, by emailing elearning@camosun.ca.   Check out our list of workshops and the Events Calendar on the CETL website.

Camosun Faculty Story #34: Diane C.

Diane teaches Massage Therapy.  And yes, I know you are thinking, how on earth do you teach Massage Therapy online?  Well, it wasn’t easy, but Diane and her group adapted to the sudden pivot, and now are working in a new world of blended.  New to them especially, because as Diane informed me, massage therapists are not known for their computer savvy!  But, nonetheless as, overnight, everyone was “thrown, not even into the deep end of the pool, but into the ocean, the community pulled together and said, here we are. Let’s do this!”

Since a Massage Therapy program requires hands-on learning at some point, the program group had some thinking to do.  In the spring, Diane says “we split the term into two blocks of 7 weeks, and front loaded all the courses that wouldn’t require hands-on learning.  We were basically teaching like you’re laying tracks while the train is coming towards you.” Then later, when they were able to go back into the classroom, they moved into some blended learning “which just took a little bit of the edge off, allowing us to figure out where the cracks were and put the glue in, so to speak, getting feedback from students of what they were requiring and what their challenges were as we went so we could begin to be more intentional and thoughtful in how we integrated some of the tools.”  How did they do it?  Well, Diane credits two things:  first, support from CETL and eLearning, and second “the community of educators worldwide, understanding how much we’re all struggling and supporting each other.  Also, taking workshops on D2L, how to build community, etc. – not just the technical how-to’s, but also how to create a meaningful learning experience for the students.”

Like other health-related programs, Massage Therapy has a cohort model, which means Diane has been seeing differences between the cohort that had to move online suddenly, and the cohort which started completely online from the beginning.  “We had a second-year cohort who already knew each other, but who struggled with the pivot. But the cohort who started in the fall seemed to adapt better – it was the only mode they knew.  I think they actually enjoy a lot of things about online learning.”  And Diane noted, that the students certainly seemed to embrace the blended model once it was established.

Aside from moving a hands-on program online, Diane says that one of her biggest challenges last year was the learning curve: “you’re developing your course, learning the technology, teaching and putting the course online all at the same time. I think if it had been one or the other, it would have been ok, but putting those altogether was really challenging.  In addition, I think the biggest challenge was how to make an online course a meaningful experience.  Especially in the synchronous classes.  For some students, my class might have been their third online lecture in a row.”  Diane had experienced so-called Zoom fatigue herself in CETL workshops.  “If it went too fast I got lost then that was it:  I was done. I think as we move forward, the experiences of the past year will make us better teachers.  It will certainly make me a better teacher, to be much more focused, have guideposts along the way, and work in shorter blocks of time instead of 50 minutes straight of me talking.”

Over the past year, Diane said she was able to work on being more intentional with her teaching.  “One of the things that I was able to do, with the help of D2L, was to organize and standardize my classes, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.  Such a benefit to learners, to come into a course and to know where to find everything, to know what to expect, to make it crystal clear for them. And that’s what I’m looking forward to keeping, so they have a map of every course, of every week.”

In addition, Diane says “I’ve always thought that health care and education are mirrors for each other.  What we model in our patient care, in respect and safety and consent and all of those things should also be part of our learning communities. And I think that online teaching forces you to be intentional in creating respect, safety, and accessibility, and to consider how we can make our courses more transparent, meaningful, and authentic for our students, which makes me excited for the future.”

Diane also noted how online learning provides opportunities to “students when they are not faced with the pressure of sitting in front of the other people. I found that some of the reflective writing that some students did online, or some of the questions they would ask, surprised me.  Not everybody thrives in the face-to-face classroom, and I saw where having an online option, where students can take information and integrate it in their own way, was really powerful.  I was shocked, seeing that quiet person at the back I’ve been trying to get to, how giving you a little space really allowed you to flourish here.”

With regards to advice for anyone getting ready to move their courses online, Diane says to let go of perfectionism, stop beating yourself up, and “have patience and be gentle with yourself. Take it step-by-step and ask for help.  Also, remember what it feels like to learn something new, and to be vulnerable and overwhelmed – this is how our students feel all the time. It’s stressful to learn things new, especially when you’ve got a lot going on in life.”

Finally, I asked Diane how she was envisioning the Massage Therapy program moving forward.  She told me “I’m shocked and surprised because originally wanted to throw my computer out the window and stomp on it as it hit the ground. But when I started working on standardizing everything, organizing everything, streamlining my courses, I became really excited about what other tools I can explore. So a resounding yes, I will use online tools to support my teaching moving forward, and I’m excited to add them to more of my courses.”  In addition, her program is looking at moving more courses into a blended model.  “Some courses are already, and we are discussing of what other courses could be blended, considering the student experience.  Certainly, for some students, the accessibility of not having to come to campus all the time is an important consideration.”

Diane’s final words were encouraging to me, given everything we have been through over the past year and a half:  “I don’t think I can stress enough the surprise of how much I embraced online teaching, and I really look forward to doing more and learning more!”


Important Things for Faculty to Know about eLearning and D2L at Camosun this Fall!!

Preamble – Who is eLearning?

eLearning is a unit within the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, with face-to-face offices at Lansdowne and Interurban, and virtual “offices” through Teams or Collaborate. We support the use of Desire2Learn (D2L) Brightspace and other educational technologies available at Camosun College (Kaltura, Camtasia, WordPress, Collaborate). Our eLearning Support team can help you and your students when you have technical issues or questions about D2L or our other technologies. Our instructional designers work with faculty to design and develop online learning opportunities, understand best practices in online pedagogy, set up and manage their D2L courses, explore options for using other online tools to support their teaching, and discuss considerations for integrating those tools into their course design.

Want to know more? Let us know – our contact phone numbers and emails are on page 2!

What is D2L?

  • Desire2Learn (D2L) Brightspace is Camosun College’s learning management D2L enables faculty who are teaching face-to-face, blended, or completely online to deliver content, manage online activities and group collaboration, as well as provide online assessment options for students.
  • Your D2L site can only be accessed by students registered in your course, eLearning staff, and other Camosun employees you request access
  • To get started with D2L, please request a consult with an eLearning instructional You also check the current workshop schedule for upcoming eLearning and D2L learning opportunities.

How are D2L course sites set up?

  • NEW: Every semester, by default, instructors will be provided with a D2L shell for every section of course(s) they teach (regardless of whether they use D2L), as long as they are tagged as the instructor for the course sections in myCamosun. If you are unsure if you are correctly assigned in myCamosun, check with your Chair or the person in your area who is responsible for scheduling. NOTE: If you do not wish to use D2L, you can put a notice up in the course to let students know, or send a request to elearning@camosun.bc.ca listing your courses and sections, and we can hide them.  This request needs to happen each term for each course.
  • Approximately 30 days before the course start of the term, you will have access to your blank D2L course shell (as long as you are listed in myCamosun as the instructor of the course).
  • NEW: As students register for your course, you will see their names appear in your D2L course site Students are added to and dropped from this list as they are registered in, or unenrolled from, the course through myCamosun in real time. Waitlisted students cannot access D2L courses until they are officially registered.
  • Students will have access to D2L course sites they are registered in on the start date of the course (as it appears in myCamosun). Students will then have access to the D2L course site for 20 days after the end date of the course (as it appears in myCamosun).  This is typically the exam period plus a few days.
  • You, as the instructor of the course, will retain access to your D2L course sites unless you arrange with eLearning Support to have them removed from your list of courses in D2L. Permanently deleting a course requires an email from you to eLearning Support (eLearning@camosun.ca) clarifying which courses you wish to have.

If I teach multiple sections in a term but only want one D2L course site (and thus one D2L gradebook) for all my students, what do I need to do?

  • Contact eLearning Support to let them know which sections need to be merged into one course Provide as much notice as possible to eLearning support if you want your course sections merged to ensure they are merged by the first day of class.

What is a DEV (Development) course site, and how do I request one?

  • A D2L DEV course site is a course site that students cannot It is a place where you can build and revise your course site before your live course shells become available to you.
  • A DEV site must be associated with a course you are teaching (for example, if you teach Math 100, you can request a Math 100 DEV site).
  • To request a DEV site for one of your courses, email eLearning Support. To learn more about DEV sites and how they can be used, talk to an eLearning instructional

How do I get access to someone else’s course site?

  • You will need to ask that person to contact eLearning Support and request/give permission for you to be added to their course site, and indicate what level of access you should be given.

Where do I go to get help with D2L?

  • You can ask for help from eLearning Support (eLearning@camosun.ca) or book a one-on-one consult with an eLearning instructional designer (see contact information below).
  • You can come to an eLearning drop-in session or
  • You can also access our D2L On-Demand Training site under My Courses in D2L (when you click on Student) in D2L, or on our eLearning Tutorials site.

How do I log into D2L?

How do I find my courses in D2L?

  • Once you have logged into D2L, you can find a list of all the courses you have access to in the My Courses widget on the main Camosun D2L page, or in the Select a course… menu on the right-hand side of the navigation bar.
  • You can pin courses in the My Courses widget or in the Select a course… menu so that, for example, the courses you are teaching right now always appear at the top of the listings. You can access instructions for this in the On-Demand Training course site, or through eLearning Support.

How do I copy course material from one course to another?

  • Use the Import/Export/Copy Components tool in your D2L course site (under Edit Course). You can access instructions for this in the On-Demand Training course site, or through eLearning Support.


Contact Information Role Primary Campus
eLearning Support Elearning@camosun.ca General Support Requests N/A
Wendy McElroy mcelroy@camosun.ca | ext. 3488 D2L Administrator + Support Lansdowne
Bob Preston prestonb@camosun.ca | ext. 3937 Web Analyst + Support Lansdowne
Kailin Gillis gillisk@camosun.ca D2L Support Interurban
Monique Brewer brewerm@camosun.ca Instructional Designer Interurban/Lansdowne
Meghan Campbell campbellm@camosun.ca Instructional Designer Interurban
Sue Doner doners@camosun.ca Instructional Designer Lansdowne
Patricia Larose LaroseP@camosun.bc.ca Instructional Designer Interurban
Emily Schudel schudele@camosun.ca Instructional Designer Lansdowne


Camosun Faculty Story #33: Vivian

Vivian is a faculty member currently working with the Assessment Centre in the School of Access at Camosun College. While Vivian did not teach in the classroom during the past year (although she was prepared to jump in), she still wanted to learn more about online teaching, so she signed up for the Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) Fundamentals course in Fall 2020, which she completed in addition to her full-time work in the Assessment Centre.  Vivian was concerned because, in her own teaching, she relies heavily on connecting with students and she was not sure how she could build community in a completely online environment.  “FLO was really helpful because one of the first things I learned was that building community online was indeed one of the biggest challenges I would have to overcome in order to connect with students”.

Some of the tips for building community Vivian took away from FLO included students creating introductions of themselves (and the option for them to use video), using the chat and discussion boards to get to know each other, and small group projects to help build those connections.  She also appreciated being a learner herself, saying “I think that was the most valuable part of the FLO course, feeling like a student.”  By experiencing not only the complexity of learning content, but also learning the technology, she was able to understand some of the challenges students experienced, especially during that first term when everything moved online so suddenly.

One take-away for Vivian from FLO (which explores asynchronous online learning) is that in an online learning environment, “learners can take more time to reflect and craft their responses through chat.  Having time to respond is especially important for those students who find conversations challenging in face to face classes and prefer a bit of think-time.”

In addition to learning more about how online learning can work for students, over the past year Vivian also learned how to adapt her own work to a completely virtual forum.  While she doesn’t work hands-on with students in her current role, she works closely with the Assessment Centre, the unit responsible for the majority of placement assessments and external exams at Camosun. “So immediately, once COVID hit, external exams were discontinued and priority shifted to supporting Camosun students. There was a huge challenge moving to completely online.”  Fortunately, the Assessment Centre was already using a virtual proctoring system that enabled students to take assessments at a distance and were able to support students with their assessment needs quickly.  After several months, the Assessment Centre returned to offering on campus assessments; however, many students chose the virtual option because they preferred to complete the assessment from the safety and comfort of home. Vivian notes, “I think that’s a change that will continue; students will have the choice to come into the Assessment Centre or to complete their assessments online.”

Like many other faculty developing online courses, Vivian found one of the challenges to doing everything virtually was the amount of time it can take to work in the online environment.  “Some assessment tasks have smoothed out, but others still take a fair bit of time. There was a huge learning curve during the transition, but everybody worked together to ensure students received what they needed.”  At the same time, Vivian has found that she is very productive working at home (which I personally can relate to!), although she misses people. “I think people would probably have resisted many of the changes we implemented had they not been thrown into it, and I think that is the revelation for everybody:  most people walked away with some value from this experience, even though it was really challenging.”

I asked Vivian if she had any advice for faculty who might be teaching online for the first time. Vivian says, “The students are going to be nervous – they may not be familiar with online learning, or the platform may be very different from what they’ve worked with previously. Students will look to their instructors for assistance and instructors will need to be patient in those early weeks.  Vivian says she would also encourage instructors “to consider reducing the amount of material assessed for marks. Assign practice work as just that – practice. This will reduce the pressure on students and places responsibility on them to complete practice work for understanding, as opposed to marks.” Over this past year she came to recognize the importance of paring back course content to find the balance for students.  “There are certain expectations and learning outcomes that you need to address, but being aware of what students really need to learn to meet those outcomes may allow you to cover some topics less extensively.”

As Vivian closed our conversation, she affirmed, “it’s so very valuable, I think, for any experienced teacher to have some time to reflect on questions such as, “Do I need to test everything? Can I create opportunities for students to work together to solve problems in the virtual classroom? How are students responding to this new format for learning?” And finally, “What can we take from this past year that benefits our students?”


BC’s New Accessiblity Act

If you didn’t know, this summer, BC passed its own Accessibility Act.

“The Accessible British Columbia Act makes B.C. more inclusive for people with disabilities.”, and aims to remove barriers, which it defines as “anything that stops people with disabilities from being included,” which includes education.

While the implementation is still in its infancy, everyone in public service needs to pay attention!  The Provincial Accessibility Committee will be developing standards and determining the order of implementation of said standards, so stay tuned for more as this legislation develops.

You can find out more about the timeline for implementation by viewing the Accessible BC Act Implementation Timeline PDF.

Camosun Faculty Story #32: Leta

Leta is a faculty member in the Dental Hygiene program at Camosun.  The sudden pivot in March 2020 from face-to-face to online was a challenge, especially when Leta notes “I’m a person who can usually switch gears quite easily in situations I am familiar with, however, anything involving a computer is not intuitive to me and therefore takes time and repetition to learn how to navigate.  Plus, while I knew there was support available, with everything going on, I didn’t have time to pursue it.”

Leta told me “when we had to fast-track right away last March, we were survival mode. Even in September, after everything settled over the summer, I was reluctant to try anything new because it was such a learning curve for me. In addition, in our program we are stretched to the maximum with our curriculum, so having to learn how to manage new online tools was too much.”  Leta ended up teaching mostly synchronously, getting ongoing feedback from her students.  But she feels her students struggled with the online format.  “My classes are 2 ½ hours long which is long time to be sitting in front of a computer trying to stay engaged. And after my virtual class, they had to run off to campus for their clinical course. So I know they were signed in, but I don’t think they were always engaged.”

In addition to the stress of moving to online teaching, and the logistics of students having to move from virtual classrooms to face-to-face clinics daily, Leta expanded a bit on challenges she faced last year around student engagement.  “I teach clinical theory which integrates everything students have learned in their basic sciences courses, dental anatomy, etc. Usually we would have a lot of discussion in class, but due to the amount of content in the course, and the complexity of discussing questions online which can be time-consuming, we’d always be rushing through the class. Sometimes I would have to talk for the full 2 ½ hours and it became difficult to build in that engagement.”

In spite of all the challenges, Leta did have some good takeaways from her online teaching.  For example, “using the D2L quiz tool was great, because my courses have so much heavy content that can be hard to evaluate appropriately.”  Leta is excited because, while the program is required to run in-person midterms and finals to meet accreditation requirements, the quiz tool allows her to provide low-stakes evaluations for students which she is planning to incorporate when she moves back to face-to-face teaching.

One of the lessons Leta learned first-hand last year was that “you can’t follow your regular in-person style when you’re teaching, which I knew, but I didn’t really understand how different the modes of engagement were between teaching in-person and teaching online.”  Leta says she would have liked to have learned to use additional tools to support her students, like the Discussions in D2L, but found she “was not confident enough to both learn new tools and ensure that I could engage with students appropriately. It was just too much to wrap my head around while in the middle of doing it.”

Leta advises anyone moving their courses online to connect with CETL and eLearning for workshops, consultations, and one-on-one help.  She said she found the online tutorials especially useful “because while some people are great at remembering things. But I find a step-by-step tutorial that I can refer back to really helpful.”  A good reminder for us in CETL to provide help in as many ways as possible!

Moving forward, Leta wants to work with D2L quizzes, and to explore the Discussion tool to support students outside of class time.  “I want to incorporate more quizzing, because students don’t always ask questions until they’ve failed a midterm,” so having more options to test their knowledge will be useful.  “And I think discussion boards will give them more options to comment on or ask questions about content outside of the class.”  Leta also sees D2L as an option to provide students with content if she is unable to teach for a day.  “I could provide them with an asynchronous class so we don’t get behind in the schedule and then we can discuss the material in person later.”  Finally, “one thing that was nice last year was I could meet with students virtually outside of normal office hours.  They were in their own space and I didn’t have to worry about privacy,” since Leta works in a shared office space.  The virtual environment also allowed Leta to share her screen with students, so they could more easily go through their exams, etc. “I could see continuing with virtual office hours because we need to support our students however we can.”

Leta’s final words are to remember that “doing your best is good enough.  As educators, we always strive to make it better, but if you do the best you can, students will still learn and engage.”

Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning September Bulletin

Welcome to September from CETL at Camosun College.  Included here are some resources that might interest anyone getting ready to return to face-to-face teaching this fall, or exploring other modes of teaching after everything we’ve learned last year!

“Everyone is exhausted… Everyone has a metaphor… Everyone appreciated a chance to reflect… Everyone has learned more about themselves… Everyone has embraced (mostly) change… Everyone tried new things they will keep using… Everyone put themselves in the shoes of their students…” From: Faculty stories: A reflection

Check out all our Faculty Stories, where faculty at Camosun share their reflections on the past year.

Tips on teaching while wearing a mask

As you know, Camosun now has a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor public spaces, including classrooms. Teaching and learning in a mask may be new to many of us, and so let’s be patient as we all work through this new reality together. Below are some resources that may be of help:

Beyond the basics of adapting to masks, perhaps this is another “challenge as opportunity” to reflect on how we continually improve our teaching practice. This might provide an incentive to move away from instructor-focused teaching toward learning-focused teaching/facilitation, incorporating more blended and active learning, and some of the skills and technologies that we’ve learned to use over the past 18 months.

Blended learning resources

As we get ready for the coming semester, many of us are wondering how to leverage our recent experience and are exploring ways to integrate classroom and online learning.  If we use a blended model, how do we make the most of both the classroom and the online experience? How do we ensure we are altering rather than adding to student work? How do we match the delivery to the desired outcome? Below are a few resources that can help. Expect additional resources and learning opportunities as we move into the fall. Questions or ideas? Email Robin Fast or Emily Schudel

Encouraging academic integrity through a preventative framework: Start off right

“Langara College has created an open access toolkit for educators titled: Encouraging Academic Integrity Through a Preventative Framework (2020). The e-book is available for free through BC Campus Pressbooks Open Education Resources. This toolkit was a collaborative initiative that arose because of increasing requests from faculty for support in addressing and promoting academic integrity in higher education. It is meant to be a starting point on a journey towards a solution-focused discourse on educational integrity, using the Complexity Quadrant to reframe conversations around academic integrity and develop assessments that encourage it.”

(description taken from BC Academic Integrity Network email promotion)

Camosun Faculty Story #31: Asha

Asha is a faculty member in the Community Child Family Studies program at Camosun.  Now, Asha’s programs are cohort-based, so not only did she face moving all her current students online in March 2020, but they also had a brand new cohort starting in May 2020, meaning they would start off their Camosun studies as online learners!  “We were a bit panicked about how we could make the student experience relational, because our program is about interpersonal relationships. So collectively our faculty worked together to figure out how we were going to make this happen when everyone’s learning to navigate the technology of Collaborate and online learning.  That was so great, that peer-to-peer piece where everyone was helping each other.”

While Asha’s program had to postpone some courses due to practicum changes in our community, and found it challenging to move the rest online so quickly without time to prepare, the challenges weren’t all bad.  “We thought, we’re educators.  We can figure out all these things. We didn’t have to do everything, but we could start small and build from there. I think a big takeaway from going online is that we can scaffold how we teach online and what tools and technology we use. We can learn little pieces, get good at them, and learn some more, and keep the best of them depending on what works for our teaching style.”  But in addition to sorting out the pieces, and learning how to teach in this new online mode, Asha says “we also had to support our students in learning what it means to be an online learner. I think the technology lent itself well to scaffolding this learning, and they gradually built confidence around it. So, it was two-fold for the students: building technology skills and confidence, and building confidence learning new content.”

Like many faculty, Asha also found herself developing online courses as she was teaching them, working to “translate things to online  figuring out different ways to do things, and still being creative, while finding ways to keep students engaged like I would have in a face-to-face classroom. In addition, many students were reluctant to be online, so creating community and maintaining a culture of safety was a challenge. But we overcame that in many ways, for example, playing games online, dancing in our classes, working in smaller groups, respecting our diverse needs and cultures and building peer support, which helped.”  In the end, Asha says that they did the best they could, and students still learned, still understood the big ideas, and were able to continue to develop as compassionate learners and professionals.”

When I asked about any rewards Asha sees from the past year, she told me that she has always been interested in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and thinks that, overall, courses were better designed for UDL because “we used closed captioning on videos, readings were more accessible for reading, and I think the online provided opportunities for many students to learn in the ways that suit them. I think we met the needs of a more diverse group by going on line.”  Asha also told me how surprised she was with the closeness some of the cohorts developed.  “I thought people would feel more disconnected, but they found ways to be connected by building relationships through the technology or outside of class. What also surprised me was how creative students can be when they have to use technology to create assignments. For example videos, podcasts, skits online or demonstrating their learning in other ways, which is UDL.”

In addition, Asha was delighted to discover inventive ways to bring her personality into the online classroom.  “For example, every class I showed something from my garden, and that became part of the culture of the classroom. And then the students started bringing things in – we were creating our community of learners.”  And this community ended up including students from different parts of Canada and the world.  “We had the beginnings of this global network, which I thought was really exciting because in a live online classroom, we were hearing different perspectives from people living in different countries.”

Asha learned many lessons from last year, including one that keeps coming up again in again in my conversations with faculty.  “We have learned new ways to deliver our courses, as well as how to meet and collaborate with our colleagues, which I’d like to explore more.”  Although she did recognize the challenge learning online is for some students.  “Some people didn’t love being online, and some people really needed a personal connection. So one question I still have is how do I keep students motivated in an online environment?”  The advice Asha has for anyone moving their courses online is “to be gentle with yourself because you do know what you’re doing. You know how to connect with students, and that will come through online. But also dig into all the resources you can find, and challenge yourself to try somethings you never did before. And remember you are not alone and that you can reach out to colleagues for support”

Moving forward, Asha’s Interurban cohort program is staying online for Fall 2021, with a plan to have face-to-face with some blended courses in the Winter 2022 term.  “We’d like to potentially offer a completely online program at some point, because we recognize there’s a need for that in our community.”  Asha does think that we, at the college, need to all take some time to reflect on all that we have accomplished, all that we have learned over the past year and a half.  “We have already begun to reflect on how our eyes and minds were open to the creativity of online teaching and learning, and to the many things we actually gained going online.  But now we need to take what we’ve learned, and think about how we want to deliver courses in the future, about what courses could stay online, which could be blended, etc.  Ask ourselves, does everything have to be in the lab or classroom or can we do some things virtually? Can we condense things and have students on campus for shorter amounts of time? It has made me rethink how we schedule and design education.”  And I definitely agree with something Asha said to me, “I think this year has allowed us to blow up education a bit – it allowed us as a college and as educators to jump forward a few years, and hopefully we don’t retract entirely back into what was our comfort zone – this goes for all levels of the College. I think this year we saw some of the most creative work and dedication from faculty- they showed professionalism and innovation in a pandemic, and I hope that faculty are encouraged to keep creating education in new ways.”

Asha’s final words reflect how I think so many feel now.  “It was a pretty emotionally draining year, but I think that allowed us to feel more empathy and compassion for our students and for each other. We needed each other more than we would have done before.”  Let’s hope we don’t forget that!

Reminders for Fall 2021 Term from eLearning

As we gear up for the new school year, I wanted to remind you of some important information related to eLearning and D2L, both for faculty and students.

For new students logging into D2L for the first time, find out how to Log into D2L, and also check out all our tutorials and student support on our eLearning Tutorials site.

For ALL faculty, new and those who have enjoyed their summers so much that all things D2L have drifted away,  here are some Things for Faculty to know about eLearning and D2LNOTE:  This document contains updated information about how D2L works now with our new Colleague integrations, so make sure to review it!!

And for all students and faculty don’t forget to check out our eLearning Tutorials site, jam packed with D2L, Collaborate, and Kaltura help documents, as well as links to other resources on Accessibility, and online teaching and learning.

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