Dedicated Educators Go Extra Mile to Engage Students Remotely

Greenville Faculty Bring Instincts and Expertise to New Learning Environment

When Tina Hernandez first enrolled at ECPI University's Greenville campus, she had high expectations. A nursing student, she was excited about her new career path. Just being back in a classroom again was a thrill. Unfortunately, that classroom experience was short lived. The Coronavirus pandemic and social distancing protocols meant that she would have to take her classes remotely. Any concerns she had about this, however, were soon allayed.

"It's been challenging for me," she says. "I have four children. Three of them are in school, so I have my school work plus being a teacher to them. I maintain a strict schedule and it's really helped. The instructors at ECPI have been awesome and very understanding through it all. I have a room that I go into to do my classwork, so I do not have distractions. My awesome boys know how much this degree means to me and they are very well behaved when I am in class. They know I am doing this for them!"

Tina is one of many students who are making the best of the situation. "We have students that are quarantined due to exposure at work and awaiting results," says Carolyn Miller, a member of the Greenville campus' nursing faculty. Some of them have loved ones that have tested positive. We have one that is due to deliver a baby soon and is terrified to go to the hospital. Yet, they still show up for class every day. It is impressive. I am amazed by their resilience and determination to become nurses."

Take a close look and it soon becomes apparent that resilience and dedication are in ample supply through the Greenville campus. Faculty members are going the extra mile to help students navigate this new learning environment, educators like Alina Lotstein. She teaches Anatomy and Physiology.

"I think one of the most important things for students who are just beginning their classes at ECPI, like the ones I have, is to be patient and understanding with them as they adjust to some of the technologies," says Ms. Lotstein. "Some of them have very little experience with computers. I do my best to try and make the remote classroom feel like a normal classroom. To encourage participation, I stop the lecture at frequent intervals to ask for questions, which works for some students. Others, who are more intimidated about talking in front of the class, prefer to message me, either in the group chat or individually. I keep a second device with Microsoft Teams chat open at all times, so I can see questions coming in even with a PowerPoint in full screen. I actually think that this has encouraged questions from students who, in a normal classroom, would not ask them, since they can privately message me live during the lecture."

To further contribute to the feel of a normal classroom, Ms. Lotstein has created subgroups in Teams, so that the students can break up into small groups to work on assignments and projects. "I think this helps them form connections with their classmates and help each other out," she says. I also use the Kahoot and Quizizz websites. We do at least one of these with every class, lecture or lab, and the students love them. It allows them to compete among themselves, as well as practice the material they have learned in a game format."

"One of the things I was most concerned about with transitioning was not being able to draw on the whiteboard, which I know many students prefer to PowerPoint slides. But, I downloaded a whiteboard app on my iPad, and in many ways it works better than a real one because I never run out of space, have to stop to erase things, and can zoom in and out with ease. I think something about seeing drawings on a whiteboard in real time is more engaging than just looking at slides, I get really great feedback whenever I use that feature."

So while the Coronavirus continues to alter just about every aspect of our lives, ECPI University's faculty and staff are committed ensuring that students stay on course, whether they are just starting like Tina Hernandez or completing their studies like Nicole Stacey.

"I'm very grateful for everything they have done," says Nicole. "I was able to finish out my final classes and complete the LPN program! It was easy to follow, just like being in class. My teachers were very effective and worked hard to maintain a classroom atmosphere!"

Is this new environment different? Absolutely.

Challenging? Without a doubt.

Still, there are times where a little levity keeps everyone loose. "We've had some funny situations," says Ms. Lotstein. "On a daily basis I am subject to cats walking across my keyboard, stepping in front of the webcam, and generally interfering with what I am doing, which the students find hilarious. They are often experiencing similar scenarios with their own pets and/or children, so they tend to sympathize."

Are you interested in making positive changes in the lives of your patients by becoming an LPN? Enroll for a Licensed Practical Nursing Diploma at ECPI University to advance your passion into a profession. Connect with our friendly admissions advisor to learn more about this exciting program.

It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

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