Kent State Geauga and Twinsburg Academic Center Faculty Members Recognized for Excellence in Remote Teaching

It has been over a year since remote learning became the “new normal,” and two faculty members from Kent State University at Geauga earned recognition for going the extra mile for their students during the pandemic.

Robin Dever, Ph.D., associate professor of middle childhood education, and Wendy Hildebrandt, lecturer of nursing technology, were both recognized by the Center for Teaching and Learning with Bronze Teaching Recognition Awards for their adaptation to the online learning environment. Bronze Awards are given to professors who demonstrate best practices for instruction through the development of their teaching plans.

Dever and Hildebrandt both worked with the Center for Teaching and Learning over the summer where they received resources and the opportunity to create virtual learning plans for the fall semester. During the program, Dever, who earned the Bronze Award for Finding Balance in Teaching, created a plan that focused on balancing new technology, expectations and personal lives while learning from home. 

Dr. Robin Dever
“I immediately jumped on the opportunity with the Center for Teaching and Learning because I saw how my students struggled last spring,” Dever said. “I didn’t know how to make this process the best for them while modeling how to be a remote teacher because remote teaching is something they will very likely have to do in their careers. We look at students and think that the younger generation is so tech-savvy, but we can’t expect students to understand everything we are doing with technology this year.” 

Knowing that her students will likely teach in a virtual environment after graduation, Dever connected with current middle school teachers to learn about the technologies they use in their classrooms. 

“I went out and researched different online learning technologies, and I’ve been incorporating technologies into my course that are the programs they will be using in their teaching careers.” Dever said. “I found that incorporating a variety of technologies helped my students to stay more engaged and participate in class. When they are engaged, I’m engaged.” 

Hildebrandt, who earned the Bronze Teaching Award for Remote Teaching, faced a different set of challenges with her students: future nurses who need to obtain lab and clinical experience to graduate. 

“Especially in the remote environment, we need to really figure out how to get the knowledge across. It can’t just be, ‘here’s a PowerPoint;’ we might need to present information in multiple different ways,” Hildebrandt said. “Nursing students are mostly worried about learning hands-on skills, and a big challenge was scrambling to coordinate clinicals, but the most important thing that they need for their career is critical thinking.”
Wendy Hildebrandt

Both Dever and Hildebrandt are keenly aware of the difficulties that come with remote learning, as they themselves had to adapt to many of the same obstacles as their students.

“I try to always remember to take my students’ situations into account,” Hildebrandt said. “Normally they would be coming into class with no distractions from learning, but when they’re home, they may have K-12 children they need to care for, UPS may be knocking on their door, who knows? I try to be really flexible and understanding and give them resources to succeed because I really care about their success.”

Dever says that earning the award meant a lot to her, particularly to receive recognition for the Geauga campus.

“It’s always great to have somebody recognize what you do, especially at the regional campuses,” Dever said. “Many of our students at Geauga are non-traditional students, so a lot of them may not be as up to date on technology, and may have other jobs or things at home they have to take care of, so focusing on those students is just as important during these times.”

Hildebrandt agrees that refocusing their efforts around students will demonstrate that the faculty cares and ultimately help Geauga faculty to achieve greater success.

“I think it’s just about being aware of our students and doing the best we can for them,” Hildebrandt said. “I'm in awe of them because they decided to continue their education with all of the obstacles we’ve had to overcome throughout the year, so I want to make sure that I’m doing the best for them that I can.”

POSTED: Monday, May 3, 2021 - 8:20am
UPDATED: Monday, May 3, 2021 - 8:25am
Katie Null