DELTA Faculty Fellow Christine Cranford has been a dedicated member of the NC State community for 14 years. As a senior lecturer in NC State’s English Department, Cranford has devoted her time to using online learning technologies to give students writing and communication skills they need to be successful in the workplace. Her partnership with DELTA has helped her do just that.
During her 20 years teaching online courses, Cranford has experienced the many improvements and changes that have been made regarding online learning technologies.
“Online looks very different than it used to when I started. When I first started teaching, we didn’t have course management learning systems, so we created web pages, but now, of course, we all use the course management systems to teach our courses,” she says.
Now, Cranford teaches in the professional writing program at NC State. Most often, she teaches ENG 331: Communication for Engineering and Technology, an online course that provides skills for writing in an industry setting. Her valuable experiences with online learning technologies have impacted the ways she teaches the course.
“I love teaching online, obviously since I have been doing it for a long time. I love the aspect of layering and using technology to create a better learning experience, and I think it provides an opportunity for students to balance their priorities,” she says.
Cranford prefers to keep her classes asynchronous to allow students to access course materials and assignments at a time that is convenient for them. This provides flexibility for students that work, have internships, or juggle other priorities that require an adjustable schedule. She layers video elements in her asynchronous courses and provides deadlines to create a balance between flexibility and accountability for students.
“It’s amazing how technology can impact online courses, including the different ways you can use video, the ways you can create different interactions, even quick, check-your-knowledge quizzing within a larger module unit,” Cranford says. “Using technology in a way to help students achieve more is exciting.”
Her passion for teaching with online learning technologies and her love for collaborating with other faculty members drove Cranford to partner with DELTA.
Being involved for her fourth year now, Cranford knows her way around DELTA. Before becoming a Faculty Fellow, she attended many of DELTA’s workshops, and she began working with the Online Course Improvement Program (OCIP) three years ago. She had two of her courses, ENG 331 and ENG 332, QM-certified in her first two rounds of OCIP. In 2019, Cranford served as a faculty lead in the 2019 OCIP cohort.
Even with all of her experience with DELTA, Cranford has continued to strive for more. She works in the Course Quality Program as a Faculty Fellow to learn more from other faculty members and provide her own knowledge about teaching online. This year, Cranford has supported Associate Director of Instructional Technology Training Bethany Smith as she organizes workshops to help faculty facilitate class discussions and develop creative assignments for Moodle courses. Cranford has also written articles for the DELTA News website this year to share tips for faculty using Zoom breakout rooms and reasons faculty should use course maps.
“As a Faculty Fellow, I love that I get to continue to collaborate with other faculty members across campus, and I get to continue to support faculty members,” Cranford says. “Helping faculty develop different approaches to teaching online is really exciting to me.”
Working with DELTA has helped Cranford overcome the challenges that arise while teaching with technology. In 2019, she taught a section of ENG 331 in North Carolina while all of her students were working on a reserve in Africa. Because her students’ internet access was limited on the reserve, Cranford had to experiment with different ways to provide materials for her students, which proved to be challenging.
“I had to reach out to DELTA to be able to learn the best approaches to meeting [the needs of] students with low-band internet access.”
By collaborating with DELTA to find new ways to provide content in the course, Cranford was able to give her students the opportunity to learn in a new, exciting environment.
“I think NC State gives students incredible opportunities to have fascinating learning experiences that I hope our students take advantage of and seek out.”
Cranford’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. She has received many positive responses from students regarding the practices and technology she has implemented in her courses to facilitate communication, writing practice and helpful evaluation in class. By the end of ENG 331, Cranford’s students recognize the importance of the skills they have learned from the course, realizing that those skills will allow them to go further in the workplace and their future careers.
Cranford has also learned a great deal about the abilities of online learning technologies during her time as an instructor and a DELTA Faculty Fellow. She is eager to see the ways these technologies are used in the future to further impact student success.
“Since working with DELTA, I have learned so much about how they have such innovative ways to apply technology to teaching,” Cranford says. “It’s amazing what they are doing. They are creating so much more than just video. They are creating learning environments for students to be immersed in.”