Virtually Possible: Reflection #1

In this TLi Reflection Series: Epiphanies, Lessons, & Hard Truths post, CI faculty were asked to reflect on their teaching and learning experiences during AY2020-21 virtual instruction. The first reflection is by Elizabeth (Bonnie) Lavin-Hughes, a PADA faculty member at CI.

What program or department to do teach for? If possible, share a picture of yourself or your virtual teaching workspace.

Elizabeth (Bonnie) Lavin-Hughes shown with grandbaby. She teaches courses in Performing Arts- Dance (PADA) at CI.

What surprised you about virtual teaching and learning?

The exhaustion level of this mode of teaching. It was emotionally and intellectually draining. Exciting to learn and consider new ways to motivate and turn on a love of learning, but draining in terms of the impersonal connections created by the zoom black hole, virtual sitting down and fixed focus fatigue, and by internet connectivity issues cropping up at the most inopportune teaching moments. (And trying to get students who were experiencing overload and or lack of motivation in this new and impersonal setting to reach out for help).

What revelations about inclusive design, universal design, or accessibility did you come to understand during virtual instruction?

A highly structured, predictable environment seemed to support learners it helped them feel safe and supported their learning readiness to tackle the virtual environment that was new to many. Although individual activities and elements of my class could develop and change, the overall structure presented via the weekly canvas modules was consistent over the semester.

What adaptations did you make to your academic life as a result of the pandemic academic year?

Instituted a strong and meaningful self-care practice! Lots of equipment and space issues that I am still grappling with and spending time and money solving.

What lessons or innovations from pandemic teaching will you carry with you as we return to campus for Fall 2021?

A few of the tools I used and will continue to develop and use for hybrid, online, and even face to face teaching in my future are:

Flipgrid is a video discussion platform that my students and I used to share and respond to short videos. Students submitted videos of their own choreographed movement phrases or videos of class projects they were practicing and learning to develop. Their peers and I could give feedback.

Padlet: We also used Padlet to share information when working remotely. Padlet allowed my students and me to add videos, images, and links to create a visual display of our critical thinking and best practices. I personally used it to make collages of my own thoughts and ideas.

Discussion Boards using favorite quotes stimulating professional development for liberal studies and dance majors through reflective practice. My primary source for quotes is The Language of Dance, A Blue Mountain Arts Collection to Celebrate the Magic of Dance, published by Blue Mountain Arts in 2002. I have used this book for almost twenty years. Also from Positive Psychology resources and student submissions.

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