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Polk State University faculty employs innovative tools and technology to improve student experience

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Polk State College faculty and staff employ innovative tools and technologies that enhance the Polk State experience and engage students in an online environment.

The outbreak of the pandemic has forced faculty and staff to move classes and services online. Lessons learned and best practices are stuck. They implement resources and creativity within their courses to enable students to thrive in new or challenging learning environments.

I get a lot of satisfaction when I see students come to me saying, “I don’t like online classes, I don’t want to be here, I don’t understand why this is important.” This is fun to learn and I enjoyed it,” said psychology professor Dawn Drake.

This is a phenomenon for many faculty who teach in online or hybrid formats. Hybrid classes include both in-person sessions and online learning.

A professor at Polk State University found that the “technical touch” benefits students in a number of ways, from helping them better understand course content to providing motivation along the way. .

amazing success

English professor Sherry Siler uses Canva to create virtual stickers and ribbons for her students, and uses “simple” touches like Bitmoji, cartoon avatars she uses to introduce herself and greet students. has had great success. Enter the course.

“We’ve had great feedback [and it was] surprise. After using the ribbon for the first time, six students emailed me positive feedback the next morning. It’s a rare day to have six positive feedbacks in person,” he says Siler. “It’s the best as an educator… I want to do more.”

“By using these tools and technologies, we can create an environment that more closely resembles the world they live in.”

Sherry Cyler, English Professor

Students printed ribbons and framed them or stuck them on their refrigerators. One student shared that her stickers acted as a positive element of her otherwise bad week.

“These touches and technologies are important for several reasons. First, they open up an engaging learning style from a very formal perspective. Second, many of our students are digital natives. We don’t want black text on a white background. That’s not how their world works,” said Syler. We can create environments that are more like the world.”

“For them, I become a more real person, a real person they can relate to, relate to, and talk to.”

Commitment to quality

Faculty members have valuable resources in the Polk State Learning Technology Department and instructional designers who work with professors to strategically develop online courses.

Instructional designer Carleigh Okwali got emotional when she talked about the reaction Professor Siler received about using ribbons in his class.

“One student told us that he had one of the worst weeks and that the stickers he received in Professor Siler’s class were encouraging. I was. “After students had to move online, [during the pandemic], many of our faculty members were concerned about how students could thrive in an online environment. ”

“I want to keep this momentum going,” she added. “We want to share these skills and tools so that we can actively engage with our students in an online environment.”

The learning technology sector has expanded as a result of the pandemic, but remains a “small but mighty group.”

Cody Moyer, District Director of Learning Technologies and Leadership Development, leads quality course design initiatives that implement state standards for high-quality and high-quality online courses, as well as rubrics for standards already in place at the college level. Developed. Moyer, Okwali, and her instructional designer, Katie Ragsdale, developed an instructional design seminar and worked with faculty through a guided course revision process.

“The pandemic put everyone in danger. [online] It was a platform that had to drive the need for sustainability and improved quality, and to level the face-to-face experience,” Moyer explained. “My encouragement to faculty is to not be afraid of technology. You don’t have to be a master of technology. There is

“How to take students in at that level and reach out to them so they agree with the course and the content and feel a part of something more than just clicking or reading or experiencing movement. There is,” he added.

dispel myths

“There is this myth,” said Ragsdale. “Not everyone can learn online, not just students, but also instructors. It is very important to do so, because we help faculty create environments in which students have intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and really want to be in the learning environment. is.”

Faculty and instructional designers are creative in giving students options to capture all types of learners within their courses. Some students are given the option to write a traditional essay, or they can submit a video or rap song. It is important to note that is not an artistic ability.

“There is a myth that not everyone can learn online, not only students but also teachers.

Katie Ragsdale, Instructional Designer

Drake, a psychology professor, challenges students to communicate something about their class’ learning goals and receives a wide variety of submissions. One student made her Google Slides her deck with narration, another sketched it, one made an infographic, another wrote a poem.

“I love seeing how they change and how they get creative,” Drake said. Let me understand, it’s about the process and learning of making choices and decisions.”

It’s a similar process to how Drake implements these aspects into his online courses. She may come up with an idea and turn to an educational designer to make it happen.

You don’t always know how to do something.know what i want to do it but i don’t know how To do that,” she explained. “Can you come up to the instructional designer and explain how this is possible? How to effectively implement what you want in an engaging way really helps.”

English professor Carol Martinson said she wants to bring her literature course into the 21st century.

“Research papers are great. There’s a reason we write research papers,” says Martinson. “But I did agree with the instructional designer…we wanted to appeal to different learning styles. You can make a rap out of it. Current events.”

“It was a great experience because some of the students who might not have succeeded in writing another paper did succeed in doing this project,” she added.

Create connection

“From research in our field, we know that if we can build a connection with our students, they will succeed,” said Okwari. “Ultimately, it’s about the students. That’s the mission of Polk State College.”

In addition to easy-to-navigate online classes and engaging course content, faculty and staff ensure that students remain accessible through basic methods such as phone and email, or via tools such as video conferencing and discussion boards within the university. I can do it. The learning management system Canvas where the classes are housed.

“From research in our field, we know that if we can build a connection with our students, they will succeed. is the mission of

Carleigh Okwali, Instructional Designer

Martinson’s First-Year Seminar course prepares first-time college students for college. She spends her 30 minutes one-on-one with each student at the start of the course at Big Blue Button via Canvas.

“Being one-on-one with my students on video allows me to understand their situation and get to know them,” she said. “Then they feel much more comfortable with me.”

Siler also used the Big Blue Button to emphasize students meeting at a comfortable level.

“My students don’t always choose to have their video on. I always have my video on,” she explained. “They can reveal themselves as much as they want and it’s amazing. They don’t have to go out at home or anywhere. They can be comfortable wherever they are.”

Moyer echoed this sentiment.

“I offer my students multiple ways to reach me. create a way,” he said. “If they want to text me a question, fine. If they want to meet me in person, they can. Being one has really helped my students accept me as an instructor in an online environment.”

“It is my goal to remain competitive and relevant in Polk State’s online environment,” added Moyer. “It’s important to embrace this modality and consider how it can be extended to all modalities to make it an engaging experience.”

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