Lecture emphasizes importance of empathy between professors, students

Gabriella Cummings
Staff Writer

Anne Mangahas, assistant professor and director of the Center for Learning Innovation in the La Fetra College of Education, gave a lecture Tuesday about how educators have more technology resources to help students during COVID-19.

The lecture, part of the weekly faculty lecture series, was held via Webex with 24 people in attendance.

Titled “Insights Gained in Technology Education During the COVID era and Beyond,” the lecture was broken into three parts. The first two parts addressed the challenges and her present findings from her work with faculty development, and the last section described how she decided to give each topic a fair and accurate description.

Mangahas spoke about how it is important for educators to integrate social emotional learning into their classes and also understand that each student is different and some may need more help than others.

“From the faculty development standpoint, developers should understand how to make resources and training materials available through a wide variety of access points, to better meet the needs of those audiences.” Mangahas said.

One of the ways Mangahas have helped her students in this difficult time in education is by coming up with ways that allow students to pace themselves with their work.

“I’ve created content that has served to be a sort of ‘curriculum in a box,’ where students can self-pace through content, meet weekly for synchronous sessions, and have everything from templates, hyperdocs and various ways in which they can represent their learnings,” Mangahas said.

She said she wants to remind her students and other students to celebrate the little victories and to appreciate the goodness in those around them.

“This aspect of hope in the future is what helps us build our resilience as we navigate uncharted territory and in the end hopefully bring us fresh insight as we forge new trails,” Mangahas said.

She was joined by two of colleagues – Bryan Best, senior instructional technologist for the La Fetra College of Education, and Jennifer Killham, visiting assistant professor of child development.

“There is so much that I have learned this last spring and summer,” Best said. “I think one of the things that stands out the most is the foundational concept of the center for learning innovation.”

“One of the things that we’re finding with faculty is that there’s kind of this seemingly infinite abundance of online tools and not really knowing where to start or when to stop,” Killham said.

Killham went on to explain just some of the resources she has taken advantage of that the University of La Verne has to offer, which can help instructors to take a step back and regroup themselves to do better.

“Partnering with some of the great resources available on campus provides those moments of rest, such as the fantastic partnering with the Lewis Center, the university chaplain, and the Center for Diversity, Learning and Wellness,” Killham said.

Mangahas said that she and her team strive to make sure they curate the huge amount of information out there so that La Verne’s educators are able to better decide which tools are most pertinent and useful for their use.

Best explained how it was much easier for faculty and staff to come into the lab asking for help when classes were in person and how they have had to change that to fit with the current class structure.

“We’ve created a few different ways that we can be contacted, whether it is a specific day and time or contacting us through group chats. We want to make sure that we are as responsive for our faculty as possible,” Best said.

Mangahas explained how students not being in face-to-face environments has caused a lot of problems. Many students were expressing how they needed to be in an environment where they could collaborate.

“So what I have done is I’ve kind of had an open door policy. I had virtual office hours for my students to just be able to pop in, because oftentimes some of the questions will fall around how to access the technology,” Mangahas said.

Mitchell Calderilla, sophomore theater major, said he was moved by the lecture.

“I just wanted to say thank you for acknowledging that this time has not been easy for students,” Calderilla said. I’ve heard some students say that professors don’t acknowledge that they carry on with business as usual, or that in the spring semester, they didn’t carry on, or that they did carry on as business as usual.”

Gabriella Cummings can be reached at gabriella.cummings@laverne.edu.

Gabriella Cummings
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