Converting Classes in the "New Normal"

March 27, 2020
Screen grab from one of Tony's videos
Tony Sindelar broadcasts "The New Normal."

For Tony Sindelar, the process of assisting faculty as they transition their classes to an online format was as easy as turning on a webcam.

Sindelar, the MGH Institute’s Senior Instructional Designer and Teaching Consultant, has launched a video series called The New Normal. The first episode dropped on March 16, the first day the school transitioned to a virtual education model. Two additional episodes have dropped since then, with more expected in the coming weeks.

“This is a series of videos as we all try to get used to what it looks like to teach when we are practicing social distance and dealing with this very abnormal new normal that we’re all navigating,” Sindelar explains in the introduction to the inaugural video.

As schools across the country switched to online or virtual instruction, Sindelar knew this would be an adjustment for instructors and learners at the IHP, and they’d need help getting through it. “I knew people were anxious and would need help, I wanted to do something to help coach people through this stressful situation – putting out a quick video seemed like a way to reach many people with a candid and supportive message,” he says.  

“These are challenging times we’re in, and there are people out there trying to figure out the best way to help [faculty] out,” he notes. “There is no roadmap or switch to flip in turning all of our instruction into online teaching with very little notice.”

John Wong, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing and Department of Occupational Therapy, said the tips are working well for he and his students.  “I've made changes to the two courses that I am currently teaching to provide more flexibility to my students," said Dr. Wong.  "For example, students will have more freedom to pick a time to take quizzes in D2L. I am also converting a group assignment originally designed to be completed during a synchronous session into an asynchronous activity, which will be a lot less stressful to students.”

Sindelar, who has an Education Specialist degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, works with fellow instructional designer Joyce LaTulippe to assist faculty and staff to design, develop, implement, and improve instructional materials and communication strategies. “At the end of the day, we care about the student experience, we care about their learning, and we’re trying to do the best we can to make that as high quality as we can given the constraints we’re now working under.” 

Check out Faculty Guide for Rapidly Transitioning to Online Teaching for more information and follow @IHPTeach on Twitter

View the second video in Tony's series where he discusses Synchronous vs. Asynchronous learning: