Presque Isle – A Northern Maine Community College faculty member was one of the highlighted speakers for the Two-Year College English Association Annual Northeast Conference, held virtually on October 15.
Dr. Jennifer Graham, an English and communications instructor at NMCC, presented a session entitled “Effortless Engagement Strategies that Support Student Success.” During the presentation, Graham shared professional strategies that she has utilized during her last fifteen years at NMCC. When asked about major instructional changes over this time period, Graham stated, “Technological advances have allowed for better integration of students and faculty with the curriculum. In the past, some technologies limited students’ experiences and therefore, engagement.”
“Knowing how to build online courses in a way that engages students is challenging,” Graham continued. “Luckily, best practices have emerged that can help teachers use engagement strategies backed by data. While these strategies require time and effort to learn, they’re relatively simple and can improve the experience of online learning for both students and teachers. Technology will be an integral part of how we educate students going forward, so it’s crucial that teachers get the professional development and support they need to feel comfortable using it.”
According to Graham, “When NMCC had to move many courses to an online format in March 2020, due to the required health and safety precautions, the transition was easier than expected since the College had already transitioned to the Brightspace learning management system. That transition allowed instructors to quickly redesign some aspects of instruction while also allowing for the implementation of new instructional strategies and investment by students, due to the ready accessibility.”
Since completing her doctorate degree in 2017, Graham has continued her research on student engagement and retention. In May 2020, Graham and a former NMCC instructor, Dr. Lynne Nelson Manion, who now teaches at Eastern Maine Community College, released a book, “Online Survival Guide: Navigating the Terrain of Online Education.” Graham recently completed a graduate certificate in designing online learning experiences from the University of New England.
During the 2021-2022 academic year, Graham is presenting a series of workshops for her colleagues at NMCC on the use of online learning to promote student success as they prepare to become members of the twentieth-first century workforce.
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