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Mehruz Kamal in home office
  • 2020-03-31
  • Anna Loria

SUNY Brockport (Temporarily) Goes Online

More than 1,500 Brockport courses have transitioned to alternative delivery formats as New York State aims to combat COVID-19. See how a few faculty members have done it.

Last month, instructors across New York State found themselves in a pinch to get creative. When Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that SUNY and CUNY classes would transition to alternative delivery formats for the remainder of the spring semester in response to coronavirus concerns, SUNY Brockport was no exception.

With support from instructional designers and others in the Division of Academic Affairs, Brockport faculty members are now conducting more than 1,500 previously face-to-face courses online — and from home. Many have put a unique spin on crafting a remote teaching environment that ensures high-quality continuity of education for their students.

Take an inside look:

Tammy Farnham at home

Within a matter of weeks, Associate Chair and Instructor of Nursing Tammy Farnham has found herself donning scrubs in her home as she transitions all of her traditional face-to-face lectures — including nursing clinicals — online (on top of, not to mention, home-schooling her two children).

"I have been busy recording lectures and clinical scenarios while having online group chats with students using Microsoft Teams and Blackboard discussion boards," said Farnham.

Conducting an interview with News 8 WROC-TV Rochester about her transition to online teaching was as simple as picking up her phone and FaceTiming reporter Kayla Green '19.

Throughout typical spring semesters, Brockport nursing students can be found in healthcare settings across the community, practicing their ability to provide hands-on care in hospitals, clinics, and community agencies.

Part of Farnham's role is preparing students for those experiences through lab instruction. When news hit that distance learning was forthcoming, Farnham and her team scrambled to maximize their use of the campus nursing facilities for adaption to virtual learning. Before the shutdown, they recorded a simulated birth, debriefing, and reenactment of a nursing student and professor performing a mother/baby assessment.

"For the remaining six weeks, students will complete virtual simulation exercises and debriefing tools, practice online fetal monitoring exercises, review standardized patient scenarios, and develop care plans from this material as if they were their real patient," said Farnham.

Using the interactive collaboration and sharing tools VoiceThread and Kaltura, Farnham has recorded herself from home — stethoscope and all — portraying shift sign-outs as if her students were taking over her patient assignment. The students are responding by virtually discussing how they would prioritize their care and assessments, interpret the data, identify risk factors, and plan their care.

"Although nothing can replace the actual clinical experience, these various exercises enable them to still develop their critical-thinking skills," said Farnham.

Tammy Farnham and her children and dog


Mehruz Kamal at home

Associate Professor of Computing Sciences Mehruz Kamal says that the hardest part about transitioning her three courses to online formats is missing the "frequent personal interaction" with her students. Nevertheless, Kamal assured her CIS 427 IT Project Management students, "I’ve got you covered," on Twitter.

Day-by-day social media documentation of her distance teaching adventure has showcased that Kamal is utilizing Blackboard Collaborate to virtually replicate a classroom and office hours, Kaltura for recording voiceovers for PowerPoint presentations, and communication platform Microsoft Teams to remain in sync with her colleagues. Through the latter, she's joining countless other professionals across the globe in maintaining face-to-face interaction through a screen.

Blackboard Collaborate offers the option for instructors and students to share their screens, files, and applications with one another, which has been a useful feature for Kamal's computer-based courses.

Blackboard Collaborate screenshot

In addition to CIS 427, Kamal has been working to execute a smooth transition for freshmen in CIS 202 Fundamentals of Information Systems and for juniors taking CSC 356 Life in the Digital Age.

This week, Kamal reminded us that #SocialDistancing and professional adjustments are perfectly suited to execute in the sun.

Mehruz Kamal outside work setup


Tasneem Zaihra home office setup

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Tasneem Zaihra has adopted a specific strategy for boosting her students' continued comprehension of curriculum: keeping it short.

"There are studies on how the student attention span is shorter for self-guided learning aids, like videos, as opposed to face-to-face lectures," said Zaihra.

In an effort to make distance learning as feasible as possible for students who may be adjusting to the varied logistical and emotional challenges it brings, Zaihra makes a point to produce short, digestible videos that summarize single examples and conclusions. As a means of incorporating checks and balances for learning, she is considering incorporating a bonus quiz problem for students to solve after every few videos.

From the chalkboard, to the whiteboard, to the SMART Board®, a blank slate has always been central to formulating mathematical solutions in the classroom. Zaihra has been utilizing the app Doceri on her iPad to capture her face, voice, and mathematical handwork on a digital whiteboard. Using Kaltura, the inbuilt media space in Blackboard, she uploads her videos for her students' consumption. These videos have begun to supplement the guided notes she prepares and shares for each chapter of learning.


Megan Sarkis home office

What about the next generation of Golden Eagle learners? Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions Megan Sarkis (not to be confused with her small "office assistant," Eliza, pictured above) fills us in.

The Admissions team, with technical support from Associate Director of Admissions Chris D'Orso, has shifted its recruitment efforts to a focus on virtual events.

"We’ve already hosted several online major events, including an accepted student reception, Q&A with President Macpherson, Residential Life presentation, and more. We also host virtual appointments daily with Admissions Advisors, which have been a huge hit. We meet with several students per day in a 1:1 video setting," explained Sarkis.

The office has begun hosting “Admissions Live!” twice a week, virtual information sessions featuring live chats between Admissions representatives and prospective students. And every day at 2 pm, Brockport is virtually spotlighting an academic program or area of student life, hosted live by a faculty or staff member and moderated by an Admissions representative.


Jeff Thompson home office setup

When it comes to providing an influx of support to faculty members now operating remotely, much of that magic begins at the home desk above. It belongs to Assistant Director of Academic Systems & Instructional Support (ASIS) Jeff Thompson.

According to Thompson, the College's team of instructional designers "work with faculty to design, develop, deliver and maintain instructional materials and courses that are learner centered; train faculty to leverage the technology and implement pedagogy effectively; and support faculty when they run into technical or instructional challenges." They are, essentially, "experts in delivery."

The ASIS team has created an organization in Blackboard called "Brockport Training" that is available to all faculty and staff. There, an area called "Blackboard 101 – Accelerated Online Preparation" provides documentation and how-to videos.

As of Monday, March 30, the team is offering consultations via appointment.

Request Appointment with an Instructional Designer

Last Updated 7/1/20

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