Instructor Cwen Monichon on online learning during a pandemic
For the past couple years, Cwen Monichon has worked at San Jose City College as a Skills Instructor for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program, helping aspiring EMTs learn the physical skills they need to pass their certification tests.
“I've been in that role since early 2018, when I graduated from the same program myself,” said Monichon.
Since the start of the Spring semester, she has also been teaching a Medical Terminology class.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and classes transitioned from in-person to online, Monichon had to quickly adapt to the change, along with the rest of the college community.
“The shift went fairly smoothly overall. It took a little experimenting to sort out the format for lectures, but the students were already well-versed in using Canvas to turn in assignments and tests online, so that made it easier to shift the rest over,” said Monichon. “Plenty of the classes I took in college were online, so that left me generally familiar with the process as well.”
Monichon has found that recording her lectures for online use has been beneficial for students, who have been able to return to them for review; whereas in the classroom, they were only able to rely upon their notes for standard lectures.
She does feel, however, that the biggest challenge with online learning has to do with engaging students.
“It's far easier to read the mood of the class, and to gauge how well they're understanding the material, when we're together in person,” said Monichon. “Likewise, students seem less likely to reach out and ask questions in an online format, where they might have engaged immediately in person.
“They seem to be responding fairly well. I think the dual enrollment students are a motivated group; they've already shown a willingness to drive their own education and a strong desire to learn by joining the program. It probably helps that they had some familiarity with online formats using Canvas, and they've been prompt in reaching out to communicate any issues they had with switching over.”
The class that Monichon teaches for the Milpitas Extension is dual enrollment, and is an SJCC course specifically made available to Milpitas High School students, amid their regular high school schedule. When she was in high school, Monichon took a similar program, and so she has been personally pleased to see SJCC offering young students that opportunity.
“The students here are exceptionally motivated,” said Monichon. “I love that the dual enrollment students made the decision to take college courses alongside their high school education, for any number of personal reasons, and it's inspiring to see how committed they are to the task.”
She also feels strongly about the EMS program, which often draws students with specific goals in mind, like going to nursing school or becoming firefighters.
“The fact that SJCC offers these programs gives students a solid stepping stone to launch from,” Monichon added.
To learn more about SJCC’s EMS program, go here.