When Edison State Community College moved all of its classes online during the spring semester because of the coronavirus pandemic, Wright State University graduate Jessica Edwards played a critical role to ensure students could continue to learn.
As director of distance learning at Edison State, Edwards was in high demand.
“During this time of transition, distance learning has been thrusted into the spotlight. In a matter of days, faculty and students needed to transition to a format that most were not too familiar with,” said Edwards, who graduated from Wright State in 2018 with a Master of Education in Educational Technology–Instructional Design for Digital Learning.
She assisted faculty with everything from content sharing, assignment and test creation, test proctoring, lecture recording and web conferencing. She worked individually with faculty members to determine strategies that would work best for their specific course and students. She recorded training videos and created training documents for anything that faculty and students needed.
With many staff members also working from home, Edwards provided training on web conferencing tools, ensuring they could continue to meet online. She also assisted in transitioning the tutoring center to virtual tutoring.
Training that would typically take months was done in a matter of days and virtually.
“This time helped me gain more insight into what training our faculty needed from the get-go, so I revamped and created new three-tiered training courses for faculty to gain skills on everything from Blackboard basics to online facilitating and even online course design,” she said.
It was an exciting challenge for Edwards.
“I love sharing all aspects of distance learning and showing how the tools and techniques can transform learning, in all types of courses,” she said. “March through May were a bit of a blur, but I feel that it really made us all grow in many ways.”
In recognition of her hard work contributions at the college, Edwards was named Edison State’s spring 2020 employee of the semester.
Edwards said she is proud to be a part of the Edison State team.
“In a time of uncertainty and change, the entire college pulled together and got it done — for the students,” she said.
Edwards loves helping instructors and students in whatever capacity they need.
“In distance learning, things can get overwhelming for some,” she said. “I enjoy being that person they can go to when they need assistance or guidance.”
She also enjoys learning new tools and software. “In both education and technology, these are always changing,” Edwards said. “This position gives me the ability to continue learning myself.”
Edwards received an associate of applied science degree in physical therapist assistant from Shawnee State University and a bachelor’s degree in health care administration from Urbana University. She began her professional career as a physical therapist assistant and worked in various health care settings for nearly 15 years.
She also taught allied health at a few community colleges. It took her just one day in the classroom to realize her future was about to change.
“I knew I wanted to work in higher education after my first class as an adjunct instructor,” Edwards said. “Once I began teaching, I knew that I was passionate about helping students, I just didn’t know at that time where it would lead me.”
So, she enrolled in the graduate Instructional Design for Digital Learning Program in the Wright State College of Education and Human Services. While she had initially planned to pursue a career in higher education teaching health sciences, after taking a few courses, she discovered she had a passion for education technology and course design.
The Instructional Design for Digital Learning (IDDL) Program provided Edwards with the perfect foundation for her role at Edison State.
“Every course in the IDDL program was focused and gave me the real-world knowledge that I needed to do this job,” she said. “The instructors were extremely knowledgeable and student-focused. They truly cared and wanted to see and help students get their ‘dream job.'”
She credits the faculty, especially Sheri Stover, the program’s director, for providing what Edwards called a life-changing experience.
“The time I spent in the program was extremely valuable and beyond beneficial,” Edwards said.