Remembering Char Gore

Char GoreI worked with Char Gore in my role as instructional designer at Tacoma Community College. She was the most innovative and forward-thinking instructors I had ever met. Back in 2008, she was interested in working in virtual worlds, using wikis, and experimenting with everything. She had an insatiable curiosity. As an instructor, she used that curiosity to solve problems. She was the Health Information Management instructor when I worked with her. She brought me three interesting problems: 1) by the time students got their certificate, they had to learn and relearn computer applications and databases because the technology was changing so rapidly; 2) the students were often parents with other jobs this meant was that students couldn’t always be in the physical classroom or lab; and 3) students need to be able to communicate with those working in the field to stay on top of procedural changes. While she was wrestling with these issues, George Siemens and Stephen Downes were putting together a new learning theory called “Connectivism.” One of the tenets of Connectivism is that students need to learn how to learn because schools cannot keep up with the changing pace of technology. Another tenet says that knowledge essentially resides in networks.

I was helping her to work out these problems when she asked me to co-teach a new class, Health Information Management 101 which was going to be an introduction to all of the technology the students would need to be successful as students, but also in their careers. So the course was going to be not just about technology, but how to learn new technology. It was an innovative class that basically taught me everything I needed to know about how to manage the Covid Era in education. The course was online in our learning management system (Blackboard but later in Angel), live in a lab, and simultaneously live in Elluminate (like Zoom) and on the phone. The last few weeks were held in Second Life (a virtual world), because the nursing department was using it for simulations. It was the first truly multimodal class that I had seen or experienced. If you want to checkout the syllabus, scroll down to the schedule.

Our course was loosely based on the 23 Things blog, but also on research that shows the effectiveness of learning communities and student success. We saw technology as a means of facilitating community rather than a delivery system. I think I am going to have to set up some training on how to teach this because this class would drive many our instructors insane. Requirements for coming to class asked that you have your phone on and participate in texting 🙂

Our syllabus and calendar changed a lot as we learned how this teaching in a networked class works, but syllabus is an example of what we are doing. We presented on this at the ELC conference (the one that was formerly known as Wabug).

For Char, there was never technology for its own sake: it was always about supporting the students and getting to connect with her, the other students, and those working in the professions. I really appreciated the trust she placed in me as a co-teacher. Those were some exhilarating times in education technology. I, like so many, are going to miss her. She was a very gifted teacher and person.

This is from a presentation we used to give about the class. The bulk of our presentation was demonstrating the multimodal course delivery.

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