Updated: Jun 26
On this Juneteenth, I am grateful for ancestors who fought for freedom. I am grateful for the young and older people remaining in the streets today to influence justice. Although we commemorate the end of chattel slavery on June 19th, I realize more work is necessary to experience the complete emancipation of Black bodies.
This week’s post is for educators who are in the process of planning for the Fall semester. I share my approach to remote learning in 2020 while also incorporating ideas relative to Juneteenth.
In the last two weeks, my work has pulled on me in different directions. Along with two of my coworkers, I led an online safe space forum for students and employees to discuss the #blacklivesmatter movement. It was helpful to expand on thoughts similar to a previous blog post and listen to others with varied experiences and opinions.
The forum’s coincidental coordination with the legal end of enslaving Africans in the US feels sweet!
On June 19th, 1865, Gordan Grander read federal papers ending slavery in Texas. Although the emancipation proclamation was signed two years earlier, the inconsistent application of the document became the norm which prompted Grander’s reading. Before and after June 19th, 1865 Black people led resistance movements.
I believe that if it were not for my ancestors and God, I would not be where I am today.
This week, my job required me to use more of my background in video editing and instructional design. The more time I spend here in Antigua and at this university feels like the Most High has placed me here for a reason bigger than myself. Much has changed since we first arrived in 2018 and I am beginning to see multiple connections between my personal and professional interests.
Could this island be my divine destiny? I am doing meaningful work at the university and sharing Capoeira in the community.
Let me tell you more...
Along with other members of the curriculum committee, I am organizing training for faculty to implement remote online learning for the Fall semester. As you know, due to the COVID-19 social distancing policies, teaching online is the safest option in our schools until further notice.
I am responsible for teaching adult students enrolled in a Caribbean medical school. Many of my students are from the United States and Canada. Despite COVID-19, our campus will open in the fall with strict protocols to ensure safety. Such policies include completing daily questionnaires and participating in temperature checks when entering the campus grounds.
Yesterday, I had a fever, according to the security team's infrared thermometer. I went directly to the clinic for verification, where the nursing team clarified that I did not have a high temperature. The infrared gun made a mistake.
My university is implementing blended approaches to learning in the Fall semester consisting of in-person and online classes. I am leading the remote online orientation for incoming students and playing a critical role in other uses of technology to meet the necessary adjustments.
The ability to do this work with a group of committed educators is nothing short of divine alignment.
Before I left Chicago, I did not have well-polished skills in video-editing or awareness of instructional design. Through my family’s vlog and several courses, I have gained skills to serve in this capacity as a leader in the online curriculum design team.
With the training committee, I am sure that we will prepare faculty members to build dynamic content. Our training agenda includes equipping others with the tools to be successful while also dispelling myths that online teaching and learning is easier than in-person instruction.
Additional planning with attention to details and creative thinking about resources are essential tools for students and educators. Students have to master time management to ensure their success with an online curriculum. Teachers must familiarize themselves with the most useful gadgets and platforms.
As a professor in my university’s education department, my classes cover learning strategies applicable to medical education. In one of my courses, designed to increase academic performance among students who have failed one semester, I am creating online lectures with quizzes and discussions using PowerPoint and features of the learning management system (LMS) called Blackboard.
With our school’s budget in mind, I am adopting additional software resources to assist with my eLearning needs.
What are your favorite eLearning tools?
To facilitate a student-centered lecture, I appreciate Articulate’s Storyline software. With Storyline, I can make a stale PowerPoint presentation edible. Through a combination of photos, videos, audio recordings, and text, I can create interactive content for students.
With the intention, to increase more awareness of the struggle for Juneteenth and in solidarity with #blacklivesmatter, I can use Storyline to share relevant content to improve cultural awareness.
In an online classroom, interactivity is key to unlocking the doors of students’ comprehension.
Customizable quizzes are tools that can help students process pre-recorded video lectures and other aspects of the curriculum. Assigning blog posts or the construction of concept maps are also options that teachers can use as interactive activities. Encouraging students to participate in discussion boards is a critical component to supporting dialogue and community in an online learning space.
Articulate’s Storyline is an excellent eLearning authoring tool to help with facilitating online activities for remote teachers, but I am also interested in additional resources. To prepare for training other faculty members, I enrolled in another course through the Coursera platform. It is teaching me about the importance of considering multiple options in preparation for the Fall semester.
So far, I have learned a few things that I want to share with you.
As you plan for teaching in August, remember technology should not drive the curriculum. The students and the learning outcomes of the curriculum should serve as the guiding forces to improve learning in a digital classroom. Consider technology your teaching assistant that can partner with you to be more effective in your work.
You have the choice to determine whether online and technical resources will act as assets or detriments to learning objectives.
Does your school use Blackboard? The university I graduated from and the one where I work use it as their primary learning management system. If you’re familiar with Blackboard, skip the next two paragraphs. For everyone else, let me explain the benefits of this platform.
Blackboard is a simple institutionally-supported tool that adds to the online learning environment. The platform allows you to upload PowerPoint presentations, pre-recorded video lectures, coordinate discussions, track attendance, and record grades. Despite Blackboard’s multiple features, the learning curve for students to access activities for the Fall semester is minimal with this LMS.
The privacy features of Blackboard support compliance with the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA mandates that schools take special precautions to secure the academic records of students. Although located in the Caribbean, we have to abide by FERPA to accept federal financial aid tuition payments.
Unlike with an open-access social media resource, Blackboard enables professors and students to conduct private discussions. Departments can create organizational profiles that empower students to find interactive lectures, quizzes, and other resources without sacrificing security.
An additional benefit of using Blackboard through a university is technical support. If I have any challenges, I can send an email or call the institutional technology department for assistance. A technician will assess the problem and provide a solution within a reasonable timeframe. In the event the IT department cannot fix an error, help is available by contacting Blackboard’s customer service.
Blackboard is a great resource, but there are additional options you can consider for the Fall semester.
Using an open-access tool such as Twitter or another social media platform will not provide the security necessary to meet the remote learning needs of all students. Yes, today and every day, you can share great memes, comments, and photos recognizing the fight for freedom, but social media does not meet the privacy requirements for academic communities.
Anyone with an email address and phone number can create a social media account. If a student begins to receive harassing comments or threats on a profile created to participate in a course, they have the right to pursue legal action against the university.
With an open-access social media tool, it is also essential to think about limited support. While all platforms have customer service and technical support options, they are not mandated to respond or help in the event of technical glitches. Facebook and Instagram accounts can be closed for perceived violations of community standards.
Social media algorithms suppress posts with words such as racism and police brutality.
Limited traffic and a closed account can damage the professionalism of the course and stop the momentum of the learning process. In most cases, you will not have the authority to challenge violation claims. With an online curriculum, students need consistent and reliable resources.
I share all of this information with you, in a longer than usual post, to prepare you for the Fall semester and in honor of this Juneteenth.
Start early to plan for the Fall semester. Check out my instructional design portfolio for some ideas with the Articulate authoring tools mentioned in this post. If you haven't read my book on Capoeira and social justice, today is a great day to process your order to help generate some thoughts on teaching and community change!
Buy it at this link.