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Voices from the Crisis: Lean into your existing systems when possible

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When it comes to online teaching, Dr. Monica D. Tarburton Rysavy at Goldey-Beacom College advises educators to lean into what systems are already in place and focus on the end goal.

“To be honest, my mantra during all this is triage and keep it simple,” Rysavy said. “I’m really limiting my urge to go toward the new shiny tools I can bring in. I’m focusing on what we can do with the tools we have.”

Rysavy is one of the driving forces behind Goldey-Beacom College migrating face-to-face classes to online within five days of Delaware’s first reported coronavirus case on March 11. The Wilmington college has roughly 1,450 students and 41 majors.

Dr. Monica Rysavy | Photo c/o Goldey-Beacom College

What helped Goldey-Beacom College make that transition was Rysavy looking ahead and making how-to guides for faculty to use existing systems like Zoom or CampusWeb, a learning management system. She has a long list of cutting-edge tools, but she’s decided to work with what she already had so as to not overwhelm students and faculty.

“I don’t want to introduce a learning curve beyond what we have, because honestly, Zoom has a learning curve when it comes to pre-recorded lectures or alive class,” she said. “What’s more important is getting the content to the students rather than introducing 5,000 tools at once.”

Besides, she said teachers are learning new tips and tricks with existing tools all the time. For example, she just discovered how to pull audio transcripts from Zoom recordings. Students who can’t join a live class could download the text file, or it could help other students as they take notes.

At the heart of it all, Rysavy said communication is still the key to success — even if it’s done from a computer screen right now.

“I do daily briefings because despite everything that’s going on, I want [faculty] to know we’re here for them, whether it’s retooling a lesson or bringing a lesson to virtual reality.”

By Katie Tabeling

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