Preparing for the Future
Preparing for the future is what Marywood University has been doing since its inception. Educating leaders in the community, including health care workers, business leaders, teachers, artists, musicians, social workers, and scientists, to name a few, has been and continues to be a part of Marywood’s mission. In addition to the aforementioned, Marywood is also preparing its faculty to provide an optimal student learning experience.
During the early weeks of the pandemic crisis, members of Educational Technology Services (ETS), a branch of the Information Technology department, began preparing for the possibility of transitioning in-person, on-campus classes to an online format so that students could complete their courses during the spring semester.
This immediate preparedness included a focus on technology training for faculty and students who had not previously used Moodle software, a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators, and learners with a secure and integrated system to create personalized learning environments.
HyBridge Education Model
As the spring semester neared its close, and with summer and fall classes on the horizon, ETS switched its focus from Moodle training and online essentials to its online pedagogy—emphasizing student-centered learning and active learning activities.
As part of Marywood’s HyBridge Education Model, a hybrid learning experience that safely delivers a high-quality education by incorporating remote interactive and face-to-face personalized instruction, coupled with internships and clinical opportunities, ETS is offering professional development to faculty that focuses on the online pedagogy.
Katherine Fisne, associate director of education technology, said, “We are focusing on an overall learning experience in the online environment."
Student and Faculty Training
Faculty began training for the Online Pedagogy Institute (OPI), a professional development opportunity, in April 2020. Each four-week professional development session enables faculty to choose the one that will work best for them. Mrs. Fisne said, “Faculty who are teaching during the summer signed up and completed the first session, to be fully prepared to teach their summer classes and beyond.”
There are two more cohorts that are currently training in Online Pedagogy Institute (OPI), and, starting on June 29, 2020, sessions will begin every two weeks until August 10, 2020. According to Mrs. Fisne, prior to the pandemic crisis, OPI offerings were already planned and were to be implemented later in the summer in accordance with the University’s training policy, however that training was moved up to accommodate a better learning environment for students who are taking summer sessions.
Training for students will involve live Google Meet sessions that students can attend to review Moodle, or to help incoming students get acclimated to the HyBridge Education Model. Those training sessions will be announced to students soon and will take place during July and August 2020.
In addition to OPI professional development, additional trainings and professional development will be offered through the University’s Center for Transformational Teaching and Learning (CTTL) in collaboration with ETS.
The CTTL supports teaching and learning at Marywood through individual consultations with faculty members about teaching related concerns, professional development programming, helping faculty identify goals and documenting their successes, ongoing orientation and support of new faculty, programming and support for campus-wide curricular initiatives and conversations, and curating digital resources for teaching and learning, to name a few.
Once the professional development and training sessions are completed, faculty and students will be able to provide feedback via an online survey. The surveys will inform what changes need to be made, to deliver the best student experience possible and to provide faculty with the best tools necessary.
Upon completion of the first OPI professional development, faculty commented:
“I benefited the most from seeing and practicing the latest tools and techniques that help to keep students engaged in their online classes. I also enjoyed interacting with my colleagues to share what they are doing to improve their online courses.”
“It was most helpful to be part of something that utilizes strategies that we were experiencing as a student, and then transferring those strategies over to a platform where we are, then, the teacher.”
“I enjoyed learning all the different ways to enhance online learning for my students and the content and techniques I can use to be a more engaging instructor.”
“For me, learning new ways to teach really opened my eyes to becoming better at teaching. Now, I see online as an opportunity rather than a diminution of relationships in learning.”
We Are Ready
Looking forward to the fall semester, Marywood sees the HyBridge Education Model as something that will benefit both our students and faculty, as it offers a blended learning experience of new online content with supporting in-person reinforcement when and where possible.
Mrs. Fisne said, “It makes us [Marywood] very agile, should anything happen in the fall—we won’t be in a big rush to put everything online. We are prepared for whatever the future holds.”