At the beginning of 2020, the overwhelming majority of Trilogy-powered boot camps were gathering in-person to master tech skills. But by March 16, everything changed. COVID-19 forced Trilogy to move 300 boot camps online in a lightning-quick two-week sprint.
For in-person instructors around the country, this was a radical shift. For Trilogy, it was also a large undertaking, but one we were well prepared to make. Curriculum engineers, support staff, and instructors assembled without missing a beat, compiling materials and sharing best practices to bring everyone up to the Trilogy standard of excellence.
Here you can learn more about how these instructional support efforts came about and how they are growing. Initiatives such as interactive office hours, comprehensive web tutorials, and regularly updated guidance continue to adapt and flex alongside instructors as the situation unfolds.
A rapid transition, with hundreds of participants
In late February, Trilogy's learning development and strategy team realized they needed to start preparing university partner boot camps to go online—and fast. The first challenge was to structure access to and fluency in the systems and technologies that instructors would need to teach online. To accomplish this, the team created asynchronous training focused on the required technologies, from the systems needed to implement the change to the content itself. Once the decision was made to move all boot camps online, instructional staff received immediate access to the trainings they needed to make the quick shift.
Trilogy also instituted “office hours” to provide a space for instructors to pose questions to the instructional team and their more seasoned colleagues and gain insights on how to navigate their new online classrooms. In their first three weeks, these virtual gatherings hosted more than 300 attendees who swapped success stories, shared strategies, and dove into best practices. Trilogy instructional staff also host informative AMAs (“Ask Me Anything” sessions) that have brought together more than 700 attendees, addressing questions as they arise. Moderated by instructional team leads and boot camp instructors, these AMAs help instructors and curriculum engineers streamline the Trilogy approach to the online transition.
Unexpected advantages of online learning
Many instructors, including those initially hesitant about going online, have found that the transition actually presents unique advantages. What online classrooms lack in in-person interaction, they gain in technological benefits from screen sharing to streamlined student feedback.
Camden Kirkland was one of the many veteran in-person boot camp instructors who had to quickly transition to a digital classroom last month. While he was initially a bit daunted by the prospect, he has since embraced the online format.
“I come from a family of teachers, so I’ve seen everything from elementary school to college, but this transition at first was one of the greatest challenges I’d ever experienced,” said Camden, who teaches at Rice University Boot Camp. “But before long, I found online strategies and tools, like the ability to share and annotate screens in class, that let me do outstanding things I didn’t have the capacity to do in the classroom.”
Another longtime boot camp instructor, Jayson Phillips, began teaching online a few years ago. At first he felt misgivings similar to Camden’s, but he quickly discovered unexpected advantages. For instance, his online classroom relies heavily on screen sharing: a tool that allows students and instructors to review each other's code in real time, offering corrections and fostering collaboration.
“Getting used to having people see your code and what you’re working on democratizes sharing in the classroom. A lot of our work involves peer review, so this function helps students get comfortable with that aspect of coding,” said Jayson, who currently teaches at University of Denver Coding Boot Camp.
The personal support provided by instructional staff to instructors guide them in navigating these tech tools and offer strategies to help make students comfortable during a turbulent time.
“Nobody has all the answers to how to teach online, but in times of unprecedented change— whether it’s coronavirus or something else—boot camp instructors are able to shift and pivot with relative ease and come out stronger on the other side,” Jayson said.
Moving forward online
“In stressful times, it can be really helpful for people to have something positive that they can control,” said Rebekah Cavanaugh, an instructional development design manager at 2U, Inc., the education partner that stewards the Trilogy brand. “Right now, you can’t control a lot, but you can control whether or not you’re learning every day. For instructors and learners, we’ve seen them do just that.”
Collaborating with teams at 2U, Inc., Trilogy delivered six seminars for the boot camp staff on everything from breakout sessions to engagement techniques immediately after shifting bootcamps online. Also, inspired by materials already created by their 2U colleagues, the Trilogy team developed an ever-evolving instructor resource website complete with reference guides, FAQs, learning opportunities, and instructor spotlights. The teams continue to update the site to show instructors how they can integrate best practices into their classrooms and make the biggest impact on students.
The continued impact is key as people everywhere adjust to a new normal—whether that means working, learning, or teaching from home. For boot camp instructors and staff, these challenges have brought out the best in them. Every day, the teams continue to adapt and adjust to set instructors and learners up for online success.
“The way we’re approaching the transition shows that we really are a learning organization, first and foremost,” Rebekah said. “In some ways, what we’re doing mirrors the boot camp model, which asks learners to respond to new concepts, be flexible, and adapt. It’s been wonderful to see students and instructors put that in motion.”
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