TLi Spotlight: Megan Eberhardt-Alstot

In Fall of 2022, Megan Eberhardt-Alstot received the President’s Staff Award for Innovation. As a valued member of the Teaching and Learning Innovations team, Megan has found creative ways to leverage technology and center humans to design for learning experiences. In this post, we share Megan’s 2022 speech, which continues to have relevance today.

Transcript of Megan’s Speech

Thank you Dr. Yao. I am so honored and humbled by this recognition. As TLi’s Learning Designer, if you are having difficulty recognizing me, it’s probably because you are used to seeing me more like this (hold up Zoom window frame). I was given time today to share about my work, but it’s not my work, it’s our work – any contribution I’ve made has been the result of partnerships with many dedicated educators here at CSUCI. Five of which are my teammates – Lorna, Michael, Kristi, Ben, and Isaac – those magical miracle workers you know as TLi. When I joined TLi I felt I’d won the job lottery  – and I still feel that way, because every day I get to work with smart, creative, innovative, problem solvers who love to laugh, are genuinely kind, and deeply committed to the academic success of students at CSUCI. 

In fact, five of us are CSUCI Alumni, including me. I’m not going to share when I was a Master’s student in the Educational leadership program, but let’s just say online education was not part of my experience. At the time, CSUCI had 10 online course sections. Hard to imagine, right? And at that time, I had the luxury of being an in-person student, living in Camarillo, newly married, and with no children, it was manageable to teach 3rd grade during the day and attend night classes. I didn’t know it at the time, but that degree would save my life.

Fast forward seven years – in the span of six months the proverbial rug had been pulled out from beneath me – I was unemployed, living with my parents and a single mom with a 3-year-old. We talk about the importance of connecting with our students – well, I’ve personally benefited from CSUCI Faculty who change students’ lives – it was Drs Tim and MaryKay Rummell who came to my rescue, mentoring me through applying as a lecturer in our School of education, and once hired- where faculty mentored and guided a very green lecturer. 

During that time I volunteered at a women’s shelter. We were about the same age, single moms, negotiating custody arrangements, dependent on others for a place to live, and worrying about our kids. Our similarities made me appreciate two key assets that made all the difference in my life: I had parents who provided a place to live and childcare and I had my education- My degree was the currency I could exchange for a career – and why my situation would be temporary.

This is why I am so passionate about the flexibility online education affords. As a single mom working full-time – I would not have been able to physically go to school full-time and earn my degree. In fact it was access to online professional learning such as TLi’s Online Teaching Preparation Program that allowed me to gain an entirely new skill-set, while meeting my other responsibilities, and win the job lottery. And it’s online access to education that makes it possible for me to be a full-time PhD – work full-time, and be a mom to my now 12-year-old son,Taylor – who is here with me today. If it weren’t for the mixture of online and in-person learning, advancing my education would come at the cost of being able to provide and be present for my son – that’s a choice I don’t want our students to have to make – and they don’t have to.

The last two years in education have been more than difficult and I am continually in awe of the momentous efforts of faculty and staff who’ve worked endless hours, redesigned multiple courses multiple times – all to maintain continuity in student learning and the pathway to graduation inclusive and open. And as difficult as its been,think of the many innovative solutions that have ultimately increased student access to courses and services. Just this past year TLi has partnered with Sohui to make WMC asynchronous on-demand workshops available to  students, Learning Online 101 has prepared almost 9,000 students for online courses, Since Summer 2020 faculty participation in THRIVE and TLC means 348 faculty have completed professional learning to provide well-designed, accessible, inclusive online, blended, and in-person courses. 

Digital learning pathways mean the learner’s seat is no longer bolted to the lecture hall floor. Able to bend time, space, and place we can design learning environments that empower students with adjustable seats. However, learning science must drive innovation. So,right now –  it’s messy  – like an unfinished puzzle with pieces scattered about- asynchronous, synchronous, in-person, high tech, low tech, no tech, and a wonderfully diverse student population with many talents and needs. We have before us the hard work of fitting these pieces together to understand which combinations support learning and learners. 

I don’t have the answers; however,I am convinced that finding the right combination will continue to be the result of interdisciplinary partnerships that creatively combine our collective superpowers.  Just consider the incredible expertise represented in this audience today – I agree with Higher Education Leader, Josh Kim, innovation in teaching and learning is a team sport – I am so fortunate to be a member of this CSUCI team. Thank you for all you do, and I look forward to innovating teaching and learning together.

2 thoughts on “TLi Spotlight: Megan Eberhardt-Alstot

  1. Dear Megan, what an incredibly heartfelt and inspiring post! Thank you for being a trailblazer and for showing us the transformative power of education, regardless of the platform. You must know that your genuine passion for leveraging online education as a tool for flexibility and inclusion is so impactful here on campus. In fact, not only you inspired me personally, but also turned me from a skeptic into an adopter of online education. Kudos to you and the entire TLi team 🌟📚🙌

    1. Diana,
      Thank you for such a kind comment. You inspire me with the way you continue to innovate and adapt your teaching, are always learning, and always sharing your work. I’ve learned so much by working with you. And TLi continues to appreciate and look forward to future partnerships 🙂

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