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History of online delivery proving valuable as Butler shifts to 100% online

A computer screen shows multiple students in a live video conference.
Published: Friday, March 27th, 2020

Nearly 100 faculty pitch in to train fellow colleagues for online instruction

EL DORADO, Kan. – When a college decides to move 100% of its offerings online, that alone is a lift for any institution. When that decision also gives a two-week time frame to make it happen – the lifting becomes mighty. That’s what faculty and staff at Butler Community College were faced with due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

College leadership made the difficult decision to move all instruction online for the safety of its students, faculty and staff during this unprecedented concern for public health. All instruction will move solely online for the remainder of the semester beginning March 30

“Butler has offered a robust online delivery system for more than 20 years and now we are leaning heavily on those resources during this time of greater need,” said Dr. Kimberly Krull, Butler president. “Though we are working remotely, we are encouraging teamwork and collaboration as we seek solutions to various learning needs.” 

Butler’s Educational Technology department is feeling part of the weight. Though the department’s title has changed more than once since 1998 when Butler offered its first online class, the mission has remained the same - to support faculty behind the scenes as they prep courses for online delivery. Often their services are also utilized by students who need technical assistance.  

Likewise, the Faculty Development department has a history of helping faculty innovate and integrate new technologies into their teaching process. They work to grow faculty professionally and strive to create stronger teaching and learning environments in the classroom. Faculty Development regularly provides workshops and weekend training for faculty. This grows into faculty training faculty.  

Fortunately, online pedagogy has been a recent focus of faculty development and the timing couldn’t have been better. Peer-to-peer instruction is paying off. In this time of heavy lifting for online delivery, nearly 100 Butler faculty came to the front lines willing and equipped to help others who have not taught online at all, or perhaps have had limited exposure.  

So now, in the heat of a rapidly changing learning environment, Educational Technology, Faculty Development and Academics are mobilizing to create a stronger support system for students, faculty and staff. And it’s all being done remotely.

They quickly launched online training sessions twice-a-day, every day for faculty over the spring break hiatus.  

“The support our instructors are showing each other is amazing and energizing,” said Heather Rinkenbaugh, dean of online, high school and community learning. “In addition, the work they are doing to help students adjust is just as inspiring. We are really trying to ensure our level of support for our students doesn’t change in the transition.” 

Team teaching among instructors for some classes is also a part of the plan, which will put two instructors into certain classes with students.  

“We typically have just over 640 sections that are either totally online or have an online component of some sort,” said Lori Winningham, academic vice president. “Fortunately, all Butler faculty are required to use our academic platform, CANVAS, whether or not their classes are online. This common knowledge has really aided our efforts as instructors and staff pull together to get everything online for next week.”  

Winningham said the college expects to have more than 2,230 sections totally online beginning Monday, including 29 sections for Adult Basic Education. 

Butler’s Critical Incident Management Team continues to meet daily to assess the latest developments and to make the necessary decisions facing them. The latest information can be found at www.butlercc.edu.