When A-B Tech converted to online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the college’s faculty received training to ensure quality, but many instructors also had to get creative to teach complex subjects online.
Mathematics Department Chair Tammy Sullivan said the department was busy all summer training, learning, and developing courses to make the best of the given situation. She recorded all her content into videos, and labs were reinvented using formats such as Kahoot, Google Drawings, Desmos Classrooms, and breakout live group work.
“I am excited to have students live, regardless of the place or format,” she said. “I look forward to student feedback on ways to include other types of technology I have yet to discover. Together we are stronger and can make the courses a positive learning experience.”
Cindy Moore, Associate Chair, is teaching both “real time” and “my time” math courses. She recorded all her lectures so that students have access to the same material that they would have in a seated classroom environment. “I made sure to include explanations and address common mistakes, in addition to showing how to solve problems,” Moore said. “I’ve also worked to adapt labs and activities to a digital format so that students can still get a hands-on experience with manipulatives, but in an online platform.”
In the Art Department, which features classes that were meant to be hands-on, instructors have been creating accessible PowerPoints for all assignments and converting them to tagged pdfs, which has been a tremendous amount of work.
“We are all planning on demonstrating techniques using webcams that can be attached to tripods from our home studios during our Real Time Zoom classes. Our plan is to replicate as good a studio experience as possible and enabling students to be more self-reliant,” said Sharon Trammel, Fine Arts Chair.
Instructor Derek Rhodarmer has been using videos on YouTube as a preemptive measure to set a positive and encouraging tone for classes and to assuage any fears or misgivings about the online delivery methods, while English Instructor Jonathan Rich dresses in costumes to lighten the mood and keep his students engaged.
Dr. Buddy Tignor, Anatomy & Physiology II Lead Instructor, has been using Zoom for lectures, labs, and office hours to give students every opportunity for face-to-face time to ask questions. He will also be using a cloud-based version of the Anatomage to bring data from the National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project into class discussions, enabling students to view high definition 3D renderings of the human body with all of the associated anatomical variation.
Hospitality Instructor Walter Rapetski said using Zoom for online presentations has helped him engage guest speakers who can present remotely. “This semester, (Introduction to Hospitality) is taught online in real time and I was able to line up three speakers to Zoom in: Laura Harrison, the General Manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Hotel; Pat Turnbull, the Director of HR for Old Edwards Inn; and Joe Brumit, Owner/Chairman and CEO of Brumit Restaurant Group,” Rapetski said.
Each department undertaking virtual learning has found approaches that work best for its students and faculty, making the experience a positive challenge to be embraced rather than a burden to be borne. And so far, it seems to be working well.
A-B Tech Community College
Founded in 1959 in the heart of Asheville, A-B Tech is the largest higher education institution in Western North Carolina, serving approximately 25,000 students a year in Buncombe and Madison counties. A-B Tech offers more than 120 degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as a wide range of workforce training and continuing education programs. Now celebrating its 60th year, A-B Tech includes the main Asheville campus, A-B Tech Enka, A-B Tech Madison, A-B Tech South, A-B Tech Woodfin, and the Goodwill Center in West Asheville.
Learn more at abtech.edu.