MCC’s Virtual Campus Blackboard: Who’s Behind the Screens?

MCC’s Virtual Campus Blackboard: Who’s Behind the Screens?

Lance Klemple, Contributing Writer

“The nature of a human being is to not ask questions or deal with things until it’s needed—until it’s right in front of them.” – Barbara Landes

Linda Hood and Barbara Landes work together to make MCC’s virtual world in Blackboard possible during the pandemic. But beyond the screen, what do Hood and Landes do? How do they make our online experience work? Hood – College Professor, and Coordinator of Teaching and Learning – handles delivering training to faculty. This includes subjects such as pedagogy and sharpening their Blackboard skills, as well as troubleshooting and arranging classes on Blackboard. The only other person in her department is Landes – College Professor and Production Blackboard Administrator – who helps Hood with the technical aspects of Blackboard, such as updates and troubleshooting.

Both Hood and Landes are a part of the Center of Teaching and Learning (CTL) at MCC. Together they teach faculty various skills to be successful online with Microsoft Word and Excel, Blackboard, Zoom, and the online learning environment as a whole. Both being professors, they also understand the value of every student at MCC. Hood says on the philosophy of the CTL, “Our job is to support faculty who ultimately support students.”

Referring to the pandemic, Landes said, “The workload went up because the questions came out, the needs of what we needed on campus became very apparent.” With MCC’s campus being primarily online now, faculty and students need more assistance with their technical troubles. Now that faculty and students have learned how to navigate the online landscape of Blackboard and Zoom, Hood and Landes’s busiest times are weeks before, during, and after the beginning of each semester, and the weeks before, during, and after finals.

As the duo’s workload increased, challenges have arisen. One of the challenges they each face is putting away their computer at the end of the day. When asked about their work-life balance, they both agreed at the beginning of the pandemic they felt the boundaries between work and home life blur. Landes went on to say, “I went from working at home to living at work.” Now they each made their own office space in their homes where they work during the day and shut the door on their way out at night. Landes described her office space as having plants, paintings of watercolor blues and greens, and a window to see the colorful sunset or listen to chirping birds. Eventually, their work-life balance sorted itself out as each of them learned how to work at home, not live at work.

But every challenge is a learning lesson here at MCC. “As a result of this pandemic, I have learned that if you are determined, there isn’t anything you can’t do. And I have learned that you can take a school that meets face to face online in 48 hours,” Hood said with a laugh of relief. “I can’t say enough about our faculty, they are awesome!”