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Navigating a New Academic Year in a Time of Uncertainty: DELTA is Here to Help

A photo of the lobby of the Talley Student Union during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Marc Hall.
A photo of the lobby of the Talley Student Union during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Marc Hall.

Welcome to a new academic year at NC State! As you prepare for the start of the fall 2020 semester, you are likely planning to use technology in your courses more extensively. This semester, and probably into the spring as well, our campus and our classes are going to look very different. For those of you who were here in the spring, you experienced the shift to emergency remote teaching in response to COVID-19, and many of you have shaped your fall courses into online or hybrid courses in a thoughtful way. However, even with the knowledge that fall was going to be different, planning has been challenging because what we are facing as educators is unprecedented. Who could have imagined we would be on campus teaching while wearing a mask, with students spread out across the room, or teaching online again leveraging tools that may be more familiar to us, and yet we are still getting comfortable in using? Whoever thought we’d be planning how to continue teaching during a pandemic with so many unknowns and genuine worries about personal health and safety and caring for others (partners, parents, children)? 

While we wish we could alleviate all of your concerns about what teaching and learning will be like this fall, we can’t, as any instructor’s broader worries ranging from personal concerns to what teaching looks like this fall are valid and important concerns to acknowledge and respect. However, what DELTA (Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications) CAN do is help you and encourage you in your journey to use technology to support teaching in whatever face-to-face, hybrid and/or online course environment you find yourself teaching. We offer a variety of services for faculty that include one-on-one instructional consultations and hands-on workshops to help you use technology effectively in any of these environments. In addition to consultations, a popular service is our faculty help desk (LearnTech) that is staffed to assist you nearly every day of the week, including on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

We are the team that hosts, supports and provides training for enterprise academic technologies at NC State University, including Moodle (our learning management system), Zoom (our web conferencing software), Top Hat (our classroom response software), Mediasite (our content capture system), Respondus Monitor & LockDown Browser (an exam monitoring system), Gradescope (a suite of tools designed to accommodate a grading workflow), as well as other supplemental tools that can be found within WolfWare such as Turnitin and the Google Course Kit. We also offer more than 100 teaching and learning with technology workshops each year as well as individualized consultations.

We can discuss a range of teaching and learning technology options with you; from helping you reimagine your face-to-face class in a way that allows you to blend both online and face-to-face teaching techniques in your course, to guiding you through the steps of creating a course entirely online. We can brainstorm ideas with you on how multiple content delivery modes can enhance your course, and help you devise (or enhance) a plan for instructional continuity if face-to-face classes need to be canceled and you need to pivot to online teaching. We can also help you think about how to plan instruction for students who may need to access material differently, or later, due to missing your course. And in this process, we will acknowledge that while we are experts in teaching with technology, this is also our first pandemic; and there are times when we will be learning along with you on how to best teach and learn in an environment where physical distancing is in place, and where there is an additional layer of stress on you, the staff supporting you, and our students. We do believe, however, that we have solid research and experience in supporting both online and blended learning environments that will inform how we help you be successful. 

In addition to our training and support staff, we have instructional design and multimedia staff who can also help you provide your content to students in new and engaging ways. If you are interested in exploring new and emerging technologies in your course, for example, augmented or virtual reality, gamification or content delivery through mobile apps, then you may want to apply for one of our DELTA Grants in the spring or talk with someone about what we might have available now that you can use for teaching. We have a proven track record of transforming education through media-rich environments such as virtual reality, animation, gamification and more. We also have a history of success in working with large courses on redesigns that help reduce DWF (drop, withdraw, or fail) rates while ensuring the academic rigor of the course. 

We love to work with instructors and are genuinely interested in helping you support the success of your students, and especially during this trying time for all of us, we are interested in helping you continue to teach your class even if it is not what you imagined it would be like this fall. Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance to you in thinking through and implementing academic technologies in your course. We commit to doing our absolute best to listen to your needs and concerns, to respect and engage with you, and to help you create the best teaching and learning environment possible.

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UPDATE: Respondus Monitor has been discontinued as an available tool.