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Like many institutions, Bergen Community College (BCC) — a 2-year associate’s degree-granting institution based in Paramus, New Jersey, and the largest community college in the state — faced challenges to its instructional model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition to online learning represented a shift not only for students, but also for many of the college’s faculty, who had little prior experience teaching online. Following the first year of the pandemic, in which the institution experienced the challenges and opportunities of online learning first hand, instructional leadership identified the need for more structured professional development tailored to online learning delivery. Bolstered by a student survey which indicated the need for more robust, quality online learning experiences and HEERF grant funding, BCC sought a partner to build professional development and student resources.

As a nonprofit technology partner, Edge was uniquely positioned to support BCC’s need for online learning professional development. Edge’s Online Learning & Instructional Technology Acceleration (OLITA) program provides a suite of services, including professional development, designed to rapidly enhance an institution’s ability to deliver online learning. The Edge team, led by Chief Digital Learning Officer Joshua Gaul and Member Account Manager Erin Brink, worked closely with Amarjit Kaur, Managing Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) at BCC, and the institution’s faculty support team, to develop a professional development roadmap to meet the specific needs of BCC’s faculty.

“Finding a way to develop online teaching expertise for all of our faculty is key,” said Kaur. “While we did have a distance learning mentor program in place and faculty were able to look to them for ad hoc guidance over the last year, there was a need to develop a structured professional development program for remote instruction. We looked to Edge to help us bring all of our faculty up to a baseline on   remote teaching. You cannot survive as an instructor in modern higher education if you don’t have the basic skills to adapt your course to a new modality – whether online, hybrid, hyflex, or other models. We’re preparing our faculty for that reality.”

Institution Summary

Customer Name: Bergen Community College
Main Campus: Paramus
Locations: 3
Number of Students: 12,500+
Number of Faculty/Staff: 1,500+

Rather than a “how-to” guide to use a specific tool or set of tools online, the Edge team created a “Fundamentals of Online Teaching” professional development program focused on applying teaching theory to the online, hybrid, and hyflex modalities. The result was a detailed, standardized, self-paced course consisting of five modules that the college’s instructors would take on their own. Following the completion of each module, the faculty will come together with Edge experts and their peers for a roundtable session to review the content of the module, ask questions, and connect with colleagues to discuss what they’ve learned. This model creates a feeling of community and common cause for BCC’s instructors while also helping to inform the creation of future professional development modules based on specific areas of need for BCC’s faculty.

By collaborating closely with academic leadership in the development of the professional development program, the Edge team ensured buy-in and a positive experience from the BCC community. The course modules were also designed to be delivery-system agnostic, so that the college could allow instructors to take the self-paced courses via a web browser, or within the LMS of their choice.

“Working with Edge isn’t like going out to commercial providers and trying to pick the service from a mass-market menu that best fits your needs,” said Kaur. “It’s a true partnership. Edge has been able to create a customized professional development program that includes the institution’s existing academic support services, enabling us to expand instructional support to reach all faculty and students in the online setting.”

Alongside the professional development program for instructors, Edge developed a “Fundamentals of Online Learning” course for students, applying similar principles to the faculty professional development course. As a result, both instructors and students will be prepared to engage in a positive, unified online learning experience, paving the way for increasing student satisfaction and improved student success in online courses. 

“The Fundamentals of Online Learning course Edge created for our students prepares them for the new online learning spaces we’re creating and The Fundamental of Online Teaching for our teachers provides foundational knowledge for remote teaching, when needed,” Kaur said.

Does your institution have online learning professional development or instructional design needs? Contact Edge today.