#MCTeaching&LearningSince1924 is part of an ongoing series…

#MCTeaching&LearningSince1924 is part of an ongoing series about how teaching and learning are taking place at Morton College during the pandemic. Responses are edited for clarity and length.

English instructor Nicole Selvaggio shares how she’s adapting to teaching online classes at Morton College. This is her fourth year teaching at Morton College and 10th overall in higher education. Credit for the photo associated with this story goes to Moraine Valley Community College.

Selvaggio participated in Morton College’s pilot program for “The Pedagogy of Teaching and Learning via BlackBoard” course.

“It was a great professional development opportunity that only made me more confident in my own online teaching abilities.” Selvaggio said. “I also think our Library and Center for Teaching and Learning have done a wonderful job preparing the Morton College instructors for best practices in online teaching and learning.” 

With a summer to reflect, what you have learned about teaching online since the spring?

“I’ve learned that being adaptable is key,” Selvaggio said. “Technical glitches are going to happen, and it is always best to stay positive in these situations. I’ve also learned that establishing routines is crucial to student success. By keeping my students organized and on a schedule, they know what to expect from week to week and will thus feel more prepared and confident in my classes.” 

What’s working better? How have you been able to reach students more effectively?
“While of course I miss working with my students in the classroom, I have still managed to foster student engagement and reach students effectively,” Selvaggio said. “I have held virtual class video sessions through BlackBoard Collaborate, and I have worked one-on-one with students through virtual video sessions too.

“I also provide feedback on my students’ online assignment submissions, so even though they are not with me in person, they still are able to maintain strong Instructor-student interaction and feel supported. 

Any student success stories you’d like to share?

“My classes are off to a strong start this semester,” Selvaggio said. “I have found that through the virtual environment, my students feel more comfortable writing freely and openly, especially with online Discussion Board posts.

“In fact, my students have said that due to our supportive online environment, they feel less anxiety when it comes to class participation, compared to a traditional physical classroom. This, in turn, has created a lot of student success in my classes, especially for my students who do not feel as confident in their English speaking and writing abilities.” 

What’s been the biggest challenge? How have you overcome (or begun to overcome) this challenge?

“The biggest challenge seems to be early in the semester within the first few weeks,” Selvaggio said. “Students are getting used to their classes, juggling their schedules, and learning their teachers’ expectations. Especially for students who are new to online learning, this can be overwhelming.

“Therefore, in my classes, I try my best to keep my students as organized as possible. I send out weekly reminders for the week’s tasks and due dates. I also give my students feedback on all of their assignments and answer their emails as quickly as I can. This all helps my students feel supported and confident in knowing that, even though their professor is behind a computer screen, she is still there for her students every step of the way.” 

What have you learned about yourself, teaching or your students since Morton College went largely online in March?
“I have learned that the Morton College students are resilient, and so am I,” Selvaggio said. “Teaching (and learning) virtually is done best when materials are presented clearly and concisely. By keeping my students organized from week to week, I am also able to keep myself organized. Our Morton College students are definitely able to still receive a quality education through a virtual environment.”