By Alisha Winter
When I first applied to become an Online Learning and Technology Consultant (OLTC) in May of 2020, I saw the position as a great addition to my resume. However, quickly after being hired and starting the two week training process, I realized that the position would mean a lot more to me than a line on my resume and money in the bank. I had never had a job or position that viewed me as a partner rather than a subordinate. This not only motivated me to engage with my coworkers and work hard every day throughout the summer, but gave me a passion for the creation of the OLTC program at Bishop’s University. Our input on the program was valued and had a true impact on the program development. All 25 of us met weekly throughout the summer to discuss our experiences, which engaged a new perspective when designing courses. Scott Stoddard and Dr. Jessica Riddell always took our opinions, ideas, and critiques of the program seriously and used our feedback to actually shape the position we were currently occupying. Due to this type of constant collaboration, the OLTC program is an extremely transparent and supportive community.
Once I started dedicating more time with my Humanities Student Working Group, I began to see the true value of working as a team rather than as individuals. The more we bonded and worked together on Teams calls, the more we got to know one another and our individual and group strengths which contributed to our success. Although we all attended the same training, some of us had a natural talent for certain areas of the OLTC work. These specialties included graphic design, leadership, note-taking, scheduling, video and podcast editing, brainstorming, and editing, just to name a few. We were extremely lucky to be such a well balanced team. We could always go to each other for help with tasks, and could provide an extremely large variety of services to the professors who we worked with. This was especially helpful when personalizing our OLTC services to suit the needs of each professor individually.
Working one on one with my professors and their many different courses at Bishop’s is a great opportunity for work-integrated learning. My second degree at Bishop’s is a Bachelor of Education in the Secondary stream, so taking time to discuss all the inner workings of a course as well as the pedagogy involved has certainly added to my learning while at Bishop’s. It has given me an opportunity to put things like scaffolding, formative and summative assessment, and feedback into action in real classes. Not to mention that working alongside such experienced professors, I have learned many additional skills and tactics that will become useful to me when I am teaching in my own future classroom. I do truly feel that becoming an OLTC has impacted my future career possibilities for the better.
Now, as I begin my journey as a Program Design Fellow, I am beginning to recognize the many other pathways that are opening up for me. I have a passion for educating, and that will never change; however, I have come to understand that following through with my degree, as it is literally intended, and becoming a high school English teacher is not my only path. The pedagogical world is full of unending opportunities in the field of educational design, as we continue beyond COVID-19 and the digital classroom. The pandemic has helped us realize that there must be a level of empathy in education that was not necessarily as prominent pre-pandemic. This is the job of the OLTCs and the Program Design Fellows, to embrace the rigour of post-secondary education while always considering empathetic design.