Continuing Connection: Writing Instructor Christine Dubois on Creating Community while Teaching Online 

Student on computer screen

macbookBy Christine Dubois

I taught my first online class, Publishing Your E-Book, on March 16.

Like educators around the world, I spent the week before in crash trainings on using Zoom, Canvas, and other online resources. We learned how to share a virtual whiteboard; how to display a handout full screen; how to break students into separate “rooms” for small group discussion. (The teacher can drop into each room to be sure folks are on task!)

When the governor ordered schools to shut down, the North Seattle College eLearning Department became the most popular folks on campus. 

Today Continuing Education instructors are hard at work adapting our Spring Quarter classes to the new reality. We may be socially distant, but learning goes on. We hope you’ll join us online.

Yes, it’s different. In person, I could survey the classroom and watch expressions. When I saw eyes glazing over, I knew I needed to explain again.

Online, I couldn’t always see faces. Some students didn’t have webcams or chose to turn off their video. Jeff had muted his audio and his video, so all I saw was a black screen with his name on it. Was he there? Or did he slip off to the kitchen to grab a snack or play with the dog?

woman writingWe had a few technical glitches, of course. And—spoiler alert—that “touch up my appearance” setting on Zoom needs work. I still didn’t look like a rock star.

In many ways, though, it felt like a regular class with upgraded options. Students asked questions and used the chat function to write comments or share resources. One student showed a Word document from his computer so we could give him pointers on formatting. I shared websites and walked everyone through the process of formatting a manuscript for Kindle. We still connected and shared the magic of writing.

Just as writing has changed—no more quill pens!—so has teaching.

Like you, we here at Continuing Education have had to make adjustments. College staff are now working from home. We’re missing our fitness classes and coffee shops. We’re dealing with uncertainty and anxiety. We get you. It’s tough.

Here’s our antidote: Take an online class. Learn new skills, connect with others, take your mind off your worries. Our motto at Continuing Ed is Live to Learn. And that still holds true.

Hope to see you in class!

--Christine Dubois

Christine Dubois is a long-time writing instructor at NSC Continuing Ed. Her spring classes are Publishing Your E-Book; Secrets of Powerful Writing; and Writing Short Memoir. Get more information on all the CE Spring classes here.