In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington State University has made the decision to protect students and faculty by moving all on-campus courses online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. As WSU makes this historic transition, one faculty member is offering her unique voice as a resource to fellow instructors.

Rebecca Cooney has been teaching fully online courses through WSU Global Campus for six years and was awarded the Oaks Academic Technology Award in 2019 for her innovative use of technology tools in an academic setting.

The clinical associate professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication has created a dedicated microblog where she is sharing her expertise in online learning to fellow instructors who may be struggling with the move to online instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

Her blog, entitled “Online Teaching Tips,” focuses on practical tips and tools to benefit faculty members as they transition to fully online learning.

“I took this step, in part, because I have been the Director of Murrow Online Programs for the past six years and thought I could add value with my perspective and experience ‘in the trenches’ of online course design and delivery,” she said. “I also have a fair amount of experience with Blackboard, Panopto, and Zoom, and I knew these tools would be critical during this process.”

According to Cooney, she’s seen an unprecedented amount of engagement on her blog over the last few weeks. Normally, her posts would receive around 25 to 50 views per day. After WSU President Kirk Schulz commented on one of her posts, views surpassed 1,300 in one day.

“The feedback has been really positive overall,” said Cooney. “People seem to be appreciative of the practical tips and tools and the sharing of resources.”

Closeup of Rebecca Cooney
Rebecca Cooney

Along with practical advice, Cooney also aims to bring the Cougar community together as they share in this unprecedented experience.

“It is a time of overwhelm, so I am also trying to insert a level of humor and real-world, humbling experiences that peer faculty can relate to,” said Cooney. “People seem to be enjoying my slightly self-deprecating style and willingness to be honest and upbeat.”

Titles of Cooney’s blog posts include: “Accepting a new normal: 6 tips for teaching from home,” “Day 1 reflections & adjustments: Lessons in adapting in real-time,” “Meet the ‘meh’ student & 5 things to know about those who are not used to taking online classes :)” and “Day 2: My head is exploding. Does it show?”.

After the initial transition to online courses on March 23, Cooney says she has been seeing positive responses from students, even amid the current uncertainty.

“Many students are scared, nervous, and uncertain about the times ahead. They miss their regular campus experience and want things to get back to normal,” she said. “Most students I see also feel very supported by their faculty and confident things will be OK. They are appreciative that instructors are adjusting, being kind, and are willing to hold live Zoom classes and virtual office hours.”

Cooney says that she is heartened to see the ongoing efforts and positivity of the WSU administration, faculty, staff, and students, and is eager to continue to work with them all as WSU moves past the pandemic and into the future.

“This whole experience has been a whirlwind on so many levels. I am happy I can provide a positive voice through all the noise. I believe we are One WSU and we will all get through this together. Go Cougs!”

Access all of Rebecca Cooney’s COVID-19 transition-related blog posts on her “Online Teaching Tips” microblog.