Each summer our Endicott College faculty and staff take part in professional development. This year, the Summer Institute went virtual. The programming was highly robust and to say it was a success would be an understatement. With the aim of bringing a new level of excellence to remote teaching and learning, professionals from Endicott and beyond took part in the week-long experience, with many earning a certificate for their efforts.
Attendance was outstanding. Each academic school at Endicott was represented by full and part-time faculty and staff. Teachers from Endicott’s neighbor, Landmark School, also participated. In total, 383 people registered and a large number completed at least eight courses (the minimum to earn a certificate).
The Summer Institute was not an easy endeavor to realize, but it was well worthwhile. Dean of Education Dr. Sara Quay says, “On May 1, a working group met to discuss how we could support faculty over the summer. We surveyed faculty and students about their spring remote teaching and learning experience and used that data to identify areas we could offer professional development in.”
She continues, “This was a truly collaborative venture between faculty, staff, and academic technology who all participated in co-planning the sessions. Each morning there was a keynote address—from a national expert in remote teaching to a panel of students who shared their spring 2020 remote learning experience with the audience. The focus was on practical strategies for teaching regardless of modality, with hands-on sessions and peer-to-peer sharing. Endicott's academic community joined together and shone.”
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Rimonda Maroun says, “The Summer Institute on remote teaching excellence was an invigorating and educational experience. Not only were we afforded the opportunity to expand our skill sets, we were able to experience and acknowledge the excellent work of our colleagues and the Endicott community. I am fortified with new and fresh ideas for my fall prep!”
Associate Professor of Marketing Anna McAlister adds, “I think the Summer Institute was tremendously helpful in creating a sense of community for everyone (full time faculty, adjuncts, and administrators). Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all heard the line ‘we’re all in this together.’ The Summer Institute really brought that sentiment to life.”
She continues, “I was really impressed by the participation and particularly the use of the chat function on the Zoom calls. Everyone participated as equals. There seemed to be no hesitation for people to share their questions, comments, concerns or advice. Full-time faculty were taking tips from adjuncts. I think the Summer Institute was successful because participants were authentic and genuine in their interactions. People were very ready to learn from one another, to reveal what they did or did not know, and to share advice and seek guidance.”
Associate Professor of English Sam Alexander says, “My Summer Institute experience was invigorating! Not only was it nice to see my colleagues again; it was also great to be reminded of the spirit of cooperation and shared commitment to teaching that make Endicott such a special place to work. Our faculty understand teaching, whether online or in-person, as an art that requires work, practice, and a commitment to constant improvement.”
He elaborates, “I have about twenty pages of hand-written notes from the Summer Institute! After each session, I circled ‘action items’—things I want to consider as I design future online courses—in red ink.”
He concludes, “I had previously researched training programs in online instruction, but most of what is available is too broad or introductory to be useful. The reason the Summer Institute was so valuable is that it focused on identifying the elements that define the Endicott classroom—accessibility, support, and a focus on each student as an individual—and allowed us to think collaboratively about how to reproduce them in an online context. Training in new technologies is always the most useful when it is delivered by faculty to their colleagues, who face many of the same problems and can benefit from innovative solutions. Finally, I think the Summer Institute did a good job of balancing keynote presentations that covered major principles of online instruction and student learning outcomes with instruction on the small-scale decisions about course design that can have a big impact on those outcomes.”
It is clear that everyone is working hard to prepare for another incredible fall semester. In fact, a second virtual Summer Institute is already in the works for July 2020.