Faculty Reflect on the Transition to Online InstructionFaculty across campus have been engaging in professional development for distance learning. Many have shared their experiences adjusting to online teaching, their appreciation for opportunities to explore pedagogical and technological approaches to quality instruction in the virtual environment, and their hopes that eventually we will be back on campus and in labs and clinicals. Here are a few excerpts from their reflections:

Faculty Adjusting
William Magoon-Makela, Fashion Studies

My area of teaching is extremely hands-on, so the concept of online teaching is foreign to the core of what we do.  It might be equal to getting your PhD in brain surgery online. Maybe I am being extreme, but it is not something I think any of us thought about before March 2020. A couple of the challenging things I think I have faced is the need to go beyond what we normally would do and know. A few of us, myself included, have had to change entire rooms in our homes to be videographers, editors, set designers, directors, and writers of our work for the class.

This is not work you can sit on a couch and teach. Buying equipment to shoot demos, lenses for the camera, writing scripts to ensure the message is clear and complete, editing the work, uploading the videos, and learning the ins and outs of Blackboard are just some of the things that had to happen. I lamented one day that I needed a production staff. It takes days if not weeks to create these demos. I told my class that for every video they see, there are five others before it. Oddly, it has become enjoyable, but the prep time is enormous.

Faculty Feeling Supported
Susan Stack, Mass Communications

I am new to Harper, but taught two blended courses at another institution. It is encouraging to have an orientation course like this (Teaching Online Successfully). At my previous institution, I basically had to learn Blackboard by just jumping in and figuring my way around.

I will be teaching an intro to film course in the fall, similar to my mass communication cinema appreciation course I taught before. My expertise is in film, especially classic Hollywood. I have a Master’s of Humanities with a concentration in film from Tiffin University. I completed my degree completely online, so this distance learning should be old hat by now, right?

For the past year, I have been working as the communications coordinator and public information officer for a county health department. It’s a full-time (plus) job during this pandemic and provides many challenges. I maintain all social communications on the website as well as Facebook and Twitter. Information is evolving every day and the challenge is to connect with our community as quickly and efficiently as possible. Recently, we’ve been in the middle of a meat processing facility shut down, so I’ve been managing media inquiries from around the country, including the major television networks as well as The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.

While my course will adapt well to online teaching, I empathize with instructors who have had to re-gear to online courses during this pandemic. Both of my daughters are taking college art classes and have experienced major disruptions to their studio courses. Harper students will encounter a very different learning experience this year. I hope that my course will be rewarding to them.

Faculty in the Field
Josue Nunez, Nursing

I have been at Harper since 2016 as a clinical supervisor in the nursing program. I supervise students in the clinical setting on medical/surgical, critical care, and emergency room. I have been a nurse for over 15 years. Currently I am a Nurse Practitioner for Sinai Medical Group (SMG), that being my full-time job. My specialty is primary care, I am double board certified in Adult/Gerontology and Family Practice. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was reassigned to the inpatient setting. I am currently doing hospitalist work at Holy Cross Hospital. I am on the COVID-19 team, meaning that every patient that I admit is COVID-positive. Since the start, everyday has been a learning experience.

I really enjoy hands-on teaching in the clinical setting. Being able to guide nursing students, allowing them to master their skills and build their confidence is one of my biggest joys. I enjoy the “aha moment” that you might see in a student when they understand a concept or are successful in a skill at the bedside.

The greatest challenge is that this group of nursing students will miss out in their capstone rotation, which is the culmination of all clinical rotations and puts the student at the bedside for the entire shift assuming the role of the primary nurse for their patient(s). I continue to be optimistic that the current situation will pass and we may all return to “normal.”


Would you like to share your experience with the transition to online instruction in an upcoming issue of the Academy News? We’d love to hear from you. Please send an email to: academy@harpercollege.edu.