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COVID + Tech State of Mind

Feelings: Then and Now

My feelings about technology today are similar to that before COVID. I do use technology, mostly digital books or Notability on my iPad and am addicted to my laptop for school work. I am also a researcher, teach at TCC and used to work in music festivals so I do use these same technologies for work purposes. In terms of social use though, my preference for technology is to limit it. I think since COVID, my use of technology has increased for school and work purposes in terms of hosting online classes/meetings but my social use has not increased. I do FaceTime my family and friends on occasion but prefer to live in the present and physical world.


Brooks et al. (2018) describe technology experiences across higher education where students in AA and BA programs rank their technology experiences as good or excellent slightly more than those in MA or DR programs. This statistic resonates with my own experiences as I have watched my own professors struggle with the transition to remote teaching but know from my own experience as an instructor that integrating online resources or having a strong LMS integration (perhaps presence is the correct verbiage) was a requirement for many CA community colleges. Due to this experience, I have taken a stance with students at Harvard and #NoVirtualFall (Isselbacher & Su, 2020). I believe it causes too many difficulties in digital learning, mostly at the fault of tenured faculty or lack of investing on the part of the university, and inequitable access for students. Furthermore, both of my parents are K-12 educators in a Title IX school district where I also witnessed the COVID-igital divide (Levander & Decherney, 2020). The school district had to issue individual chrome books to students upon closing campuses. Many of these chrome books have since been damaged and will need replacements in fall. Schools are now tasked with educating on device management and responsibility where parents may also be ignorant or inexperienced. I watched my mom, an administrator, have countless meetings about how to best support students at her school who experience homelessness, and need access to wifi or have not submitted assignments because they lack the tech intelligence to even access their assignments in the first place.


COVID has forced education online at a pace which many educators and institutions cannot keep up. I do favor hybrid or blended learning environments but still believe nothing can supplement face to face interaction. I also want to make note here that my undergraduate and masters degrees are in Human Communication Studies and the two channels of communication, face to face or mediated, are heavily studied, discussed and integrated into learning. I have learned that America romanticizes education but maintains its elite and inequitable status through access to, and access through, technology.


Successes and Lessons

One example I would define as a success in delivering services online from the spring/summer was Dr. Cox's use of FlipGrid. This is an extension in Canvas which allows for video messaging, or vlogging. The instructor can set a time cap on the videos, students can view and respond to classmates just as they do in discussion boards. It was such a fun and unique way to engage with my classmates during an online class. It was also significantly more efficient than typing and reading discussion boards.


During summer B, I attempted to implement Canvas Groups & Collabs for a group term paper. Canvas allows students to create their own groups and use it as a hub for projects. This connects to GoogleDocs and PPT online which also allows for immediate assignment uploading. The instructor is also granted automatic access to this hub and can monitor student progress, view group discussions, files, or collabs. One major lesson I learned from this is that some students have not linked their google accounts and LMS, and some professors have not activated this feature. It is only as powerful and convenient as the instructor allows it to be, which is only if they KNOW it can be, which could hinder students from using something so integrative (basically, I felt my professor was limiting me and if anyone teaches online they should DEFINITELY learn this feature).


References

Brooks, C. D. D. (2018). ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2018. Louisville, CO: ECAR. Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2018/10/2018-students-and-technology-research-study (Links to an external site.)


Isselbacher, J. E. & Su, A. Y. (2020, May 13). Hundreds of Harvard Undergraduates Petition Against Virtual Fall Semester. Retrieved from https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2020/5/13/harvard-undergraduates-against-virtual-fall/#.XvKIfdvbJCQ.link (Links to an external site.)


Levander, C. & Decherney, P. (2020, June 10). The COVID-igital Divide. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/education-time-corona/covid-igital-divide


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