Making it work

from big dreams and determination to tears and grace

By Dr. Laurel Ofstein, Associate Professor of Management

Photo of Laurel Oftsein, dog and son in home officeWhen WMU first moved to distance education, I was optimistic and motivated to maintain our classroom energy, albeit virtually. I have always been unafraid of new software or technology. While not an early adopter in my everyday life, I enjoy trying to teach myself new things once they’ve entered early mainstream usage. I attended one of the first Haworth College of Business trainings after the switch to online learning. During the workshop, I learned how to record videos and hold meetings in Microsoft Teams. I was ready!

The day after the Microsoft Teams training, I received a notification through Elearning that there was a software that integrated with eLearning called Mediasite Capture for recording videos. There was an update for Macbook users like me, and tech support installed the update on my laptop. I was still ready!

After checking out the options of Mediasite Capture and determining that it seemed a bit easier to use than Microsoft Teams and had the benefit of integrating with eLearning, I triumphantly began recording video lectures. This wasn’t so hard after all!

But something was wrong. After recording several video clips, I realized that the syncing was off between my lecture and the slides. I moved back to Microsoft Teams. No problem! I was trained for this—I would record my lectures in Teams and get back on track. After making several lecture recordings, only one of my lectures uploaded online due to the heavy system traffic. I was getting worried—time was passing, I didn’t have the content uploaded that my students were expecting.

I called tech support and a kind, optimistic tech support employee told me that he didn’t know why my hard work wasn’t uploading. He then suggested that I use yet another form of recording software. Exhausted after recording unsuccessful lecture clips and overwrought with the stress of the times, I cried. I sobbed on the phone with the tech support operator. And the kind, optimistic tech support operator let me cry. He didn’t panic, or make me feel embarrassed, he just listened as I pulled myself together. These are difficult times, and I am grateful for his compassion.

So today, after moving to (boring, reliable) QuickTime Player, I record lectures in the most basic way—recording my screen as I move through slide presentations and talk through my laptop microphone with no video of me to be seen. I get the job done. I am not optimistic in the same way that I was 10 days ago, but I have moved to a more practical attitude. As Tim Gunn of Project Runway used to say, “Make it work!” I am making it work, for me and for my students. I realize that my students are facing their own struggles that, in some cases, are way beyond my own. So, I will continue to record my less-than-flashy videos in my comfy chair, in my pajamas, with my dog at my feet. And, I will work toward a few videos of myself, to let the students see my face and to tell them that we’re in this together, and one way or another, we’re going to make it work.