Finger Lakes Community College has provided free training in online teaching to about 100 educators from 20 school districts in Ontario, Seneca, and Wayne counties.
With the switch to remote learning in the spring and local districts’ plans for remote and hybrid learning this fall, FLCC began planning training for high school faculty who teach FLCC courses in their home districts via the Gemini program. Gemini allows high schoolers to earn college credit before high school graduation, thereby reducing the total time and expense of college.
FLCC’s training in course design and best practices for remote learning was then expanded to include other teachers.
“FLCC’s willingness to provide training sessions on best practices in remote learning is evidence of the strong partnership they share with area districts, such as Seneca Falls. Working with an institution that has experience in connecting with students virtually, sharing pedagogical practices and planning techniques is a huge benefit to teachers who are moving forward quickly to provide the best instruction possible for K-12 students,” the Seneca Falls Central School District said in a statement following the trainings. “These training sessions not only helped individual educators progress, but strengthened our existing collaborative efforts in educating the whole child and achieving at a high level regardless of the instructional model.”
The College has been providing online education for two decades and offers 12 of its degree programs fully online, including Health Care Studies and Networking and Cybersecurity. An additional 12 degree programs can be taken 50 percent online. In the spring, FLCC also piloted an online nurse assistant program to help downstate hospitals in need of staff for COVID-19 wards.
In addition, FLCC is the home of the Regional Education Continuum, which began by providing opportunities for high school and college faculty to learn from one another and improve the transition from high school to college. It has grown to include student programs and district partnerships that reach beyond high school.
“FLCC’s work with online course design and building bridges between high school and college educators gave us a unique opportunity to help our region adapt to the realities of teaching in a pandemic,” said Ryan McCabe, associate vice president of academic technology and high impact practices.
Six workshops in July and August were led by FLCC’s online learning staff with assistance from Jacqueline Tiermini, liaison of K-14 outreach and partnerships and associate professor of humanities.
“I am focused on continued conversation and collaboration around student success. Professional development like this is just one example of how we can come together as a region to learn with and from each other, and I welcome the opportunity to do more,” Tiermini said.
The trainings focused on core concepts and best practices of online teaching such as backward design. Backward design is an approach in which teachers first identify the skills or knowledge students should have by the end of the class and determine the best evidence that students have achieved those outcomes. The teachers were also given examples of effective icebreakers that can be done online with their classes.
Teachers from the following districts took part: Bloomfield, Canandaigua, Clyde Savannah, East Palmyra Christian School, Gananda, Honeoye, Marion, Midlakes, Monroe BOCES, Naples, Newark, Palmyra-Macedon, Red Creek, Red Jacket, Romulus, Seneca Falls, Sodus, Victor, Waterloo, Wayne, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES and Williamson.