Learning How To Teach Distance Learning

Northeast Mississippi Community College Distance Learning during COVID-19 pandemic

In the spring of 2020, Jeremiah Hartman joined thousands of educators around the world who had to quickly pivot to online learning at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.  Hartman is an instructor in the Adult Education Program at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NEMCC). He says he and other instructors were preparing to return from Spring Break and begin a strong finish to the spring semester when he got the news about moving courses online to help slow the spread of the virus.

“Very quickly, we all realized that this would not be a typical spring,” Hartman remembers. “We figured out Google Classroom, Canvas, Zoom, Facebook Live, and a host of other distance learning delivery options.” Hartman had his colleagues also spent many hours preparing learning packets to distribute to students who, for various reasons, were unable to access the internet to continue their studies.

Hartman says his home became his classroom. “We transformed dining room tables and back bedrooms into classrooms and office space and managed to teach productive lessons and keep student contact despite our pets, children, and spouses also sharing the same spaces.” Although instructors at NEMCC thought the distance learning was only temporary, as the days and weeks continued, it became evident that he would not see the spring students in person that semester.

“During this crisis, educators have once again done what we always do. We have put the needs of our students and programs above the personal ambitions we may have,” Hartman says. And although the transition was difficult at first, he has found a rhythm and was even able to reach a new group of learners. “With distance learning, I have been able to help students who otherwise might not have been able to start or complete their education.”

Most of all, Hartman says the COVID-19 pandemic taught him how to be flexible and adaptable in the new virtual environment to meet the various needs of his students. However, one of the most important lessons he has learned is that educators have a responsibility to continue to learn and adapt to a digital learning environment. “At the end of the day, my COVID-19 success story doesn’t involve a student, but that is okay because it involves a whole profession of people who have worked hard and persevered to endure in the face of unforeseen challenges and unknown outcomes.

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