Online Expert Offers Insight into Remote Learning

It’s almost two weeks since the College transitioned to remote learning as part of efforts to promote social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Broward College faculty, staff, and students have shown their determination to rise above the circumstances and continue their journey towards academic success. 

Priscilla Suarez, associate dean of Academic Affairs for Arts, Humanities, Communication & Design pathway, is an online expert who leads the Online Liberal Arts department. She works closely with Instructional Services in the development and implementation of innovative and engaging learning experiences for online courses.

P. Suarez HeadshotShe shared her expertise in the field to offer some insight into the advantages and opportunities available through remote learning to students and instructors.

Online Versus Remote Learning  

Although they both take place virtually, online and remote learning differ from one another. “Essentially, remote learning, which is what the College has transitioned to, entails some form of synchronous interaction between faculty and students,” explains Suarez. 

Synchronous learning is when students are required to log in at a determined day and time, whether via Blackboard Connect or a similar videoconferencing tool, for a live lecture. On the other hand, online courses are completely asynchronous, which gives flexibility to the students to log in anytime and complete assignments at their own pace by a deadline date. Online courses often require only the use of D2L.  

A Successful Transition Remote Learning 

The College’s immediate efforts to support the change to remote learning, including real-time technical support for faculty through the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning (CTEL), proved successful as most face-to-face courses were successfully moved to remote learning, including art studio courses and dance appreciation, for example. More than ninety percent of courses were transitioned, ensuring that students can continue their academic goals. 

“In times like this, it’s crucial that we show our students that we are doing everything in our power to provide them the best quality learning experience,” she says. “Through the feedback we’ve received, we know that thus far, everyone is adapting wonderfully.”  

Tips to Succeed   

Despite the differences, Suarez explains that the tips to succeed in a remote learning environment are not that different from an online course. “It’s all about understanding the responsibility and commitment it takes from the onset,” Suarez says. “A big part of student success in remote learning comes down to building strong communication with your faculty to make sure you know exactly what the expectations are from both sides. Students should also remember always to ask questions.” 

Additionally, Suarez strongly recommends that students are well aware of their syllabus. “Your syllabus is your guide. In remote learning, it’s crucial because it lists all the software you may need, and any special instructions such as compatible browsers for your labs, the formats accepted by D2L, and such.” 

As for faculty, the College has established a “one-stop virtual shop” where they can find how-to-tutorials and other resources related to D2L. “We are working on possibly adding similar resources for Blackboard Connect, and also are recommending training for administrators as well on these technologies so they can better support the faculty.” 

“This is a new beginning for most of us, and I believe the most important thing to remind everyone, faculty, and students, is that we are in this together and we must be kind, patient, and empathetic towards one another,” Suarez concludes. 

Faculty can find a complete guide of D2L resources here. 

A thorough list of resources for students including advising, tutoring, and more is available here. 

For more information on updates related to COVID-19, please visit broward.edu/coronavirus.