By Sally Cunningham and Alisha Winter
Program Design Fellows Sally Cunningham and Alisha Winter got a chance to sit down with fellow students and Online Learning and Technology Consultants, Charlotte Gélinas-Gagné and Emma Trumble, to discuss their experience with the OLTC program. They both joined the pilot program in the summer of 2020; Emma this year continues as an OLTC at Bishop’s and a Communications Fellow with the OLTC Program, and Charlotte works as a Logistics & Program Design Fellow with the program. They will both continue to work closely with the OLTC as Bishop’s heads back in-person in this Fall semester.
When asked, Emma Trumble describes her role as an Online Learning and Technology Consultant (OLTC) as a “friendly face in the IT department, I’m a one-on-one personal IT person who also understands pedagogy.” Her colleague, Charlotte Gélinas-Gagné, chimes in that she initially joined the program because she wants to “be a part of the change to education that comes from integrating technology in the classroom.” The two OLTCs have worked closely together over the past year, initially as members of the Social Sciences Student Working Group and now as a Communications Fellow and a Logistics and Design Fellow for the program.
When asked about their experience right from the beginning of the program, Charlotte and Emma both agree that training sessions—especially collaboration through the Faculty Mentor Model (FMM) with Dr. Heather Lawford—aided in their understanding of the inner workings of university courses. Emma stated that “it was a good way to ease into what the program was going to look like and test the waters.” The mentorship portion of training allowed for new OTLCs to experiment with a real course and instructor in a low-stakes/high-communication way. Beginning the program with this collaboration provided an entry point into the unique way OLTCs work with instructors. “We could really become more confident and comfortable,” says Emma of the experience with Dr. Lawford. The program used the same mentorship model this year with the OLTC training across the four Maple League Schools.
As Emma and Charlotte progressed in the OLTC program and became more self-assured in their skills and ability to support instructors, they found that working together as partners and tackling courses together created a great support system. Charlotte attested to this: “we quickly learned each other’s strengths, we knew who would answer a question just based on each OLTCs strengths. And it was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of. ” Teamwork between students is just as integral to the OLTC program as collaboration between student and instructors. This particular partnership became very valuable to the program as Emma and Charlotte progressed with their positions.
Emma continues as an OLTC to this date, but when the program began to expand its resources to students as well as faculty, Emma took on an additional role as Communications Fellow. This position enabled Emma to gain skills and experience wielding a professional Instagram platform. She is proud of the work being done on the OLTC Instagram, reaching out to Maple League students with the mandate to help people “discover technology.” There, she and a small team of OLTCs create, curate, and post branded content that is aimed at supporting students across the Maple League of Universities. Charlotte, who also collaborates on the OLTC social media presence stated, “there are so many different options [for the program to offer help] and some are not directly related to helping faculty,” when asked why students are the target audience of the OLTC Instagram. Emma shared an example of a tip they would share on the OLTC Instagram, saying it is the kind of information that inspires her work on the account. Apparently, you can save eight days a year using keyboard shortcuts; “you’re actually saving a lot of time,” Emma laughs as she tells us. Find out more tips like on Instagram @oltcmapleleague.
The other half of their duo, Charlotte, is a recent graduate of Bishop’s University and will not be continuing on as an Online Learning and Technology Consultant. Instead, Charlotte is supporting the OLTC program as a Logistics and Design Fellow. Not only did she play a key role in this summer’s orientation of the new OLTCs from all four Maple League schools, but she works closely with Project Manager Lauren Boultbee by using her expertise with Microsoft Excel to ensure that all logistical aspects of the program remain organized and easily understood as it expands. Looking back on her work as an OLTC with her knowledge of spreadsheets, Charlotte was able to uniquely support instructors in creating detailed gradebooks: “we worked with one professor who wanted to have 10 different assignments within her course, and she had different categories with different weights.” Following a “choose your own adventure” model for the weights and assessments in the course, the instructor benefitted from Charlotte’s prior knowledge and ability as an OLTC to create coding software in order to support this instructor’s particular needs.
Overall, both Emma and Charlotte agree that the OTLC program has helped them grow and achieve great goals. They also acknowledge that the position has helped them develop a unique kind of approach to teaching and learning: “A lot of our work is having humility and knowing that we don’t know everything. Google is our best friend… not knowing everything is okay,” said Charlotte. These OLTCs aim to be more friendly faces within the IT Department, and want to work together with instructors to find personalized solutions. “we can be here for whatever [instructors] need going into the future—especially with our understanding of tech and pedagogy,” said Emma. Find out more about the OLTC program at https://www.bishopsoltc.com/ or on Instagram @oltcmapleleague.