As someone who is supporting a small army of faculty transitioning to alternate delivery, I’m a bit shy (mortified?) to share my own cringe worthy tech fail. But I will. In that selfless sort of way that leaves one thinking, “Well, at least I didn’t do that!”
After recording an excellent (seriously, it was amazing) podcast over ZOOM with Amber Hieb (Faculty of Management) about her experiences pivoting during COVID 19, I uploaded my Kaltura capture file to VIUTube and got ready to listen. I may have even rubbed my hands together, knowing that this podcast was going to be so smooth, it would need none of the editing other podcasts have needed (as I edit out my own awkward howls and screeches). If you’re wondering why I used the Kaltura Capture tool to record a podcast in ZOOM, it’s because I’m a little bit dumb. Don’t do this. It was the wrong choice. When I played back the audio, all I could hear was me. There were these long gaps where Amber’s thoughtful reflections should have been. My heart sank as I realized my error. I had opted to use Kaltura Capture, not ZOOM recordings, because it was audio only. But then of course, “Capture” didn’t capture Amber’s audio because it wasn’t capable of recording from inside my eardrums (I had earphones on). But it doesn’t work well anyway in this setting (I tested it again without earphones). What I learned through this whole frustrating situation is that, gloriously, when you record a session on ZOOM, it gives you an audio-only file too. How awesome is that?
Instead of going back to reflective, thoughtful, learner-centered Amber, who incidentally ran a radio show in a previous life, and is also a lawyer, so is incredibly articulate, I decided to write her thoughts, as engraved on my eardrum, into a blogpost. I intend to present it to her, with all my humility and remorse, as an attempt to make up for failing to record her story.
Amber began by sharing that during the early days of COVID pivoting, she came across a blogpost by Rebecca Barrett-Fox entitled, “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online.” The article shaped Amber’s strategy in redesigning the end of her semester. Barrett-Fox advocated for faculty to adjust expectations realistically, and in a way that was empathetic to students and faculty at an unprecedented time. Barrett-fox also outlined assumptions instructors might be prone to make when transitioning to an alternate delivery, like that students have strong technology skills and endless time to engage online now that they weren’t coming to class. According to Amber, she appreciated Barrett-Fox’s honesty and her down-to-earth, empathetic approach to course design during this crisis.
With many of the points from Barrett-Fox’s article in mind, and identifying that much of the content in her courses had been covered by the pivot week, Amber made the decision to rely on asynchronous tools and engagement. Although one course had a seminar component which might have been suited to ZOOM, Amber considered her students first, not wanting to inundate them with new technologies, or makes assumptions about their access to technology. But she was also mindful of students’ time, and potential stress as they pivoted through a number of courses, in a number of alternate environments. For this reason, she opted for the relative ease of VIULearn (her students were familiar with VIULearn) and the flexibility that an asynchronous environment affords.
Amber also discussed a challenge in pivoting to the async world. Amber had given her students instructions on what was left to be completed, and used VIULearn to communicate these expectations with students. As one might expect, many students were able to self-direct and manage time effectively to complete tasks. However, some students struggled with time-management issues, motivation and persistence, in ways that might not have happened in more tradition f2f setting. Amber had to check in more frequently with students toward the end of the course, and is interested in developing more tricks and strategies around maintaining persistence in online, asynchronous environment if alternative delivery continues in the fall. Fortunately, there’s a session for that: Promoting Student Persistence in an Online Environment.
Thank you, Amber, for your continued reflectiveness and your openness to sharing your pivoting decisions and thoughts with me and our readers. I will continue to collect stories from our community on their pivoting stories and hopefully my podcast button works next time.