Community colleges throughout Alabama have experienced a multitude of changes over the last few weeks. With support from the Educational Technology Department, instructors at Northeast Alabama Community College have adapted extremely well to the situation and continue to provide a top-notch educational experience for students. Northeast Art Instructor Barbara Kilgore is making the most of the situation.
Utilizing several web-based learning platforms, NACC instructors like Kilgore are reaching students through Zoom chats, email, Canvas online instruction, and more. Northeast President, Dr. David Campbell, spoke to this, saying, “Mrs. Kilgore demonstrates the innovation and creativity that our instructors have achieved through our online courses. We think our online program is tops, bar none. Most all courses are transferable and you may register for these courses from any location.”
Northeast’s Learning Management System (LMS) allows instructors to hold virtual classes much in the same manner as their on-classes. Instructors can create video lectures including quizzes using Canvas Studio. Students can submit all work online as well. NACC also offers secure online exams using proctoring tools, allowing courses to continue as normal.
“Online Instruction is new for many people, but one point I would like to get across is that it is not just a weak substitute for classroom teaching,” stated NACC President Dr. David Campbell. “In fact, online instruction, if done the right way, as Mrs. Kilgore teaches, offers many teaching and learning methods unavailable in the classroom. Also, online teaching can be teacher one on one if needed to be. Online instruction has been around awhile and it is getting better and better. It will be here a long time after the Coronavirus crisis has ended.”
Mrs. Kilgore is doing her best to maintain a sense of normalcy with her students. When asked how her students were adjusting to online learning, Kilgore stated, “My students already had experience with Canvas learning, because I use it in all my classes for content delivery. The main thing they are struggling with is just staying on track at home with all the craziness in our world.” A testament to how much Northeast instructors care for their students, Kilgore set up a specific discussion time for students to share their new realities with each other. She takes time to check in on students, asking them questions like “How are you today?” and “What can I do to help you through this?”. She also holds students accountable with their coursework, reminding them to stay on track with their assignments.
Kilgore is venturing outside her comfort zone to deliver quality content to her students. She has recorded numerous “how-to” demonstration videos to keep her students engaged. “I would have never made YouTube video tutorials on campus,” Kilgore said. “I hate hearing myself on a recording, but I’m having to find new ways to give students feedback on their work.” Kilgore is having students photograph their work and submit it online where she is able to make recommendations back to the student. She is also using Zoom to do a face-to-face critique for the student in real time.
Interim Dean of Instruction Chad Gorham knows how dedicated Kilgore is to her students. “Mrs. Kilgore is an outstanding instructor, not just on campus but online as well. She is so creative and is constantly looking for ways to engage her online students. Mrs. Kilgore’s Art 100 course is one of the more popular courses on our schedule. Students wanting to take Art 100 can’t drag their feet when registration opens, or the course will fill up! This speaks to how much students enjoy the course. We appreciate all the work that Mrs. Kilgore puts into making her online courses great,” says Gorham.
Kilgore says teaching remotely has been a challenge, but it is making her a better teacher. She is learning to balance her courses and students while adjusting to a new normal. “I have two boys, a husband and a dog at home. So now I am teaching my students online, fielding calls, answering emails, and working on new content all while trying to reteach myself things like chemistry so I can help my own children with their schoolwork,” says Kilgore. At times, Kilgore says it’s like she’s at works and never leaves. “It is a challenge, but in the best way. I miss seeing my kids on campus, but Zoom helps with that. Plus, they call, text, and FaceTime me all day. I think this experience is making me a better teacher – at least a more organized one!” Kilgore says.
For Kilgore, her students motivate her to keep adapting. She encourages other instructors to utilize familiar tools first and incorporate new tools when ready. “It’s all about learning, so you just have to jump in the boat and row. Make the most of what you have. My students may not learn what they usually do the way they usually do but they are learning and that is why I am here! That’s what I signed up for when I became a teacher,” says Kilgore.