Green River Star -

Western instructors adapt to virtual classes


April 29, 2020

From Western Wyoming Community College

Western Wyoming Community College has worked diligently to adapt to virtual function amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Western’s faculty have come up with innovative new ways to teach their previously in-person courses and labs.

This transition saw 272 credit courses, and their respective labs, converted to an online modality. Many labs required the purchase of additional simulation-based software or recording hardware to create effective labs. Like many colleges, Western uses a learning management program called Canvas, which the College relies on now more than ever. Most of this transition took place over Western’s extended spring break.

Western’s Assistant Professor of Dance and Artistic Director of the Mustang Dance Company, Rebecca Mayer, has migrated Forth-Semester Ballet and the Mustang Dance Company Spring Concert to a virtual format. Mayer faces the challenge of creating lessons that can be executed by all students given the differences in their home environments.

To accommodate her students, Mayer is recording video lessons and posting them to Canvas. To give her students hands-on feedback, students self-record projects which are discussed during a one-to-one Zoom meeting or by recording comments over the submitted videos. Mayer is also working with students to create a lab-like experience where dancers experiment with digital technology and choreography.

Western’s Nursing Department has faced a number of challenges, as much of the students’ work is hands-on in clinical exercises and laboratory classes.

The Department implemented new technology and is using realistic virtual clinic simulations which are done online through programs iHuman and NurseTim Inc, such as in a diabetes clinic or trauma simulation.

The students assess and determine plans and evaluate patients as they would in a clinical setting, complete with the sounds and interruptions they would experience in a real hospital.

The nursing faculty have come together to record numerous videos for the students, and collaborate with one another to write patient scenarios for students, which include problems they may run into in order to make the scenarios as lifelike as possible.

In addition to Dance and Nursing, Biology instructors like Dr. David Tanner, Assistant Professor of Biology at Western, face challenges in the migration of General and Animal Biology laboratory classes to virtual delivery.

Since the primary challenge of virtual coursework is student engagement, Dr. Tanner and his colleagues are now delivering lecture content by recording dissections and experiments using a GoPro, then adding them to Canvas and interacting with their students with the help of Zoom meetings.

Dr. Tanner’s Canvas lectures are recorded to accommodate students’ schedules, and the platform allows students to submit time-stamped questions regarding the content of the videos. His Zoom lectures are live and interactive, so students can communicate with him in real-time and ask questions as he is presenting.

The migration of in-person courses to a virtual delivery would not have been possible without the staff in Western’s Center for Teaching Learning and Innovation (CTLI) and the Information and Technology (IT) Department.

CTLI and IT Departments have been instrumental in helping faculty and students overcome technical difficulties with programs and facilitating online teaching and learning.


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