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A Technological Silver Lining for Meredith College

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Image courtesy of Technology Services

With Meredith College’s complete transition to distance learning, it is no surprise that the folks in Technology Services are now some of the most in-demand of all the service staff. Fortunately for Meredith, they are also the most prepared. Cheryl Todd, Director of Instructional Design & Academic Technology, sat down (virtually) with The Herald to discuss the recent weeks for Tech Services. Students and staff might not really be aware of what Tech Services normally does for campus, expresses Todd: “For most service departments, they need you when they need you, and that’s how it goes.” Unbeknownst to many, they actually have been using things like Zoom all along. “We were pretty much prepared because we’ve been working on this for quite a while – trying to support faculty who are already teaching online or teaching in a blended format.” The structure was already in place, and the tools had been identified; the only difference now is the scale to which they are being implemented. “We’ve had to be much more available than we usually are,” explains Todd, but fortunately the staff is able to work remotely. The office’s Student Technology Assistant Team (STAT) is also still at work: “We’ve been able to get them trained on various technologies in a very quick amount of time, and they’ve picked it up quickly,” says Todd. STAT workers then pass on what they learn to students who need help managing technology for their classes. Overall, students and faculty have been successful in this transition, summarizes Todd. She knows that all students don’t necessarily know how to use the technology, but she says that “they usually pick things up quickly, and that’s what’s been happening for the most part.” However, she stresses that Tech Services really wants to know more about how students are doing. “This matters a lot to us – we want to make sure that the delivery of the instruction is beneficial to the student and that all of our students, no matter how they learn, are getting what they need.” As challenging as this transition is, technology advocates like Todd are excited that faculty are wanting to try new tools. “Even instructors who might have been resistant to change are calling us, asking what’s the best approach,” she says. “Faculty have been open and warm and patient, and that is something great about our campus: we’re all kind of working together.” Right now, the faculty having the most challenges are those in the arts fields. “They’re really trying hard,” says Todd, but for things like music, dance or athletics, the necessity of in-person feedback is more pressing. “We’re suggesting the same things for all: have the students record themselves and then critique it.” Though it might not be easy, Tech Services is looking into the future. “We’ve been spouting this philosophy for quite a while, and I think the whole key here is keeping up the momentum,” Todd explains. The college will ultimately go back to face-to-face classes, and these distance learning tools will no longer be necessary, but Tech Services hopes that this experience can encourage more diverse instructional techniques in professors’ classrooms in the future. “This has been a learning exercise for both students and faculty,” Todd says. Meredith is an institution of higher learning, after all: that’s what we do. To access Tech Services’ Online Course Guide for Students, click here. Students and staff can also request tech support at any time by emailing By Mimi Mays, Editor in Chief

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