The Problem — The Pandemic
While the worldwide spread of the contagious Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is still considered ongoing, the past tense is used here optimistically, since two vaccines have been developed and are being widely distributed at the time of writing this report (“Coronavirus disease 2019,” 2020). Therefore, as of the Spring 2021 semester, many students and teachers have returned safely (to some degree) to the brick-and-mortar classroom. The most urgent part of the crisis has been abated, and the rapid response requirement around which this internship was based in Spring/Summer 2020 has subsided.
Facing the highly transmissible Coronavirus meant a public transformed to wearing masks, social distancing six feet apart, and the repeated washing of hands and surfaces. The later, more drastic measures, came in the form of stay-at-home orders, around the globe, across the United States, and inevitably in our state of Colorado.
But this meant an entirely new problem for education. How would we teach our students in a situation where it was no longer safe for them or their teachers to be together in a physical classroom? Even more importantly, how would we teach them effectively?
For those of us in online education, the answer was clear, but certainly not simple. Just as we had done for our global campus students, we needed to employ a video-conferencing technology for our on-campus courses as well. This would be a challenge for everyone: students, faculty, seminary staff, and particularly the educational technology team. While Denver Seminary had been using the video-conferencing platform provided by Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (https://zoom.us) for several years in online courses, using it campus-wide successfully and efficiently would be experimental to some extent. And like many educational institutions around the world, this transition had to come rapidly in response to this Coronavirus-induced educational crisis.
Instructional Designer Role
Beginning in March 2020, as Senior Instructional Designer in Educational Technology, I shifted to working in crisis mode somewhat overnight. Originally, I had intended to pursue my CU Denver internship around the topic of teaching and learning using video-conferencing technology, specifically Zoom. But it became clear that the immediate needs of the seminary required an adjustment to my internship focus. The seminary would still be using the Zoom platform for online education, but the COVID-19 crisis required conversion of all Denver Seminary education to virtual classrooms.
This rapid response meant supporting faculty and students in an immediate transition to a fully online teaching and learning environment using a video-conferencing platform. My instructional design time and efforts were directed toward the preparation of trainings and tutorials for faculty and students who were faced with new online opportunities and possibilities, but also with challenges and frustrations. In addition to these urgent instructional design projects, I kept abreast of innovations in technologies and instructional techniques that arose from others facing their own COVID-19 educational crisis. A positive outcome to this pandemic was that it sparked a wealth of new ideas and options for online education.
See the complete Internship Report: https://jackisoister.com/internship