Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.
How long have you worked at the UO?
I started in April of 2018, so I’ve been here almost three years now.
Tell us about your work:
I am part of a larger team of other instructional designers, instructional technologists, and media specialists. We all encompass UO Online, in addition to the Canvas support team. Instructional designers can work with face-to-face and online courses, but I mainly provide guidance and support to faculty who are designing or redesigning online courses. I consult with faculty on a regular basis and help create lecture videos, design Canvas courses, develop instructional materials and write learning objectives.
As a collective, our instructional design team also puts on faculty-facing workshops. We focus on faculty development in terms of teaching and demonstrating how to navigate different technologies and topics like Canvas and Panopto. We also maintain a library of resources for faculty with instructional videos and how-to guides. Our team also provides Canvas support for the entire university.
What does your typical day look like?
Before the pandemic hit, my typical day varied. Depending on my responsibilities, I might be sitting at my desk editing videos, participating in meetings, or running around on campus to meet people for different tasks all day.
Now, I do all of that over Zoom. My days are often packed with virtual consultations, support calls, and workshops. I may also periodically attend one of my instructor’s virtual classes if they have something going on one day where they’re trying this new technology and need help setting it up.
What do you like about working at the UO?
My team is definitely my favorite part of working at the UO. My coworkers are all super smart, compassionate, and good at what they do. We’ve actually grown closer since the pandemic, which is interesting because we are working remotely. We have meetings several times a week and are constantly in Zoom sessions to troubleshoot issues or set things up. The sense of camaraderie on this team is probably what I love the most. Like most people, we’ve had our share of frustrations amidst this pandemic, but I can’t imagine a greater group of people to go through that with. That’s definitely the best part.
What keeps you motivated?
I’m super passionate about online education in general, so that keeps me going. I love that I’m able to reach a lot of faculty who have never taught online before or have had negative perceptions about online teaching. Online learning is so important because it provides access to education for people who otherwise can’t enroll in a traditional setting. Not everyone can move to a college town and dedicate four years of their life to college.
The demographic landscape of college students has changed drastically over the past decade. Your typical college student – a high school graduate between the ages of 18-23 – makes up less than 50 percent of the college demographic universally. Now you have more working adults, people going back to school, and students with families and children or commitments that they are unable to give up right now. People with barriers to a traditional education – like individuals with disabilities who can’t physically get to a classroom or people in the military who are serving overseas – can benefit from online learning as they continue their education at the same time.
Online classes can also help students who are struggling. If a student encounters some difficulties in life that prevent them from attending a physical class, switching to online classes might allow them to continue instead of dropping out. Even for people who want that traditional face-to-face model, online classes can be important to bridge the gap if you have any sort of interruption in your life.
What is something people may not know about you?
Anyone who knows me knows that I am an avid reader; I love to read and often concurrently read up to 10 books at a time. But what people may not know is that I maintain a two-person book club with my best friend. We call it our Besties Book Club. We select three or four books to read and talk about together every single month. We’ve been friends since we met in fourth grade but we now live on nearly opposite ends of the country, so it’s a fun activity that helps keeps us close.
Bailey Dobbs is a part of UO Online.
Do you know someone who should be Duck of the Week? Nominate a UO employee.