Committee on eLearning

Annual Report for 2020-21

When I signed up to be Chair of the eLearning Committee in late 2019, little did I know that the world will change drastically with the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. COVID gave rise to pandemic restrictions, school closures, and a rapid shift to fully online learning. Suddenly, the role of the eLearning Committee in terms of providing support and oversight to eLearning activities within QCC had more urgency and gravity. As of March 11, 2020, all pedagogy in the entire City University of New York system switched to fully online mode within a week’s noitce. This meant that the Committee needed to step up and contribute to faculty and students’ capability to teach and learn from home.


Accomplishments of the eLearning Committee this Year


This report will discuss the accomplishments of the eLearning committee for the Academic Year 2020 to 2021. To provide structure to the report, I will lay out the committee charges, and what has been done to fulfill those charges. The charges of the eLearning committee come from three sources: (1) the Academic Senate bylaws, (2) the Academic Senate Steering Committee, and (3) the committee motu proprio.



  1. The eLearning Committee’s charges and accomplishments, as outlined by the Academic Senate bylaws are as follows:


1.1.  Charge: Report and make recommendations to the Academic Senate on all matters related to eLearning, in particular concerning policies and procedures related to the development of, support for, and offering of fully online, partially online, hybrid and web-enhanced programs, degrees and classes.


Aside from other routine activities, perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the committee this academic year is its collaborative work with the Academic Development Committee (ADC), which aimed to revise the existing Student Evaluation Form of Faculty for fully online (FNET) and partially online (PNET) classes. Given that all classes suddenly became fully online, and delivery of instruction could either be synchronous or asynchronous, the two Committees felt that the existing FNET and PNET tools needed to be revised.


For example, the extant tool stated: “The instructor always begins class on time.” This would be an unfair question to ask for instructors who lead asynchronous classes, as students may misunderstand the question and rate the instructor unfavorably. Initial discussions lead to a lot of suggested revisions. In the interest of time, the ADC and eLearning decided to simply add a “not applicable” (N/A) column in the evaluation forms. Adding the N/A column was expeditiously processed for approval of the Academic Senate and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. This minor yet important revision was reflected in the tools used by students to evaluate faculty in Spring 2021. More substantive revisions are in the works as of this writing.


1.2.  Charge: Develop and disseminate guidelines, standards, and best practices in online instruction to the College.


The Committee under the leadership of its immediate past Chair, Dr. Zeynep Ackay, has done extensive revisions to the eLearning Guidelines in Spring 2020 which coincided with the arrival of the pandemic in the US. The undersigned assumed the position as Chair in Fall 2020, and needed to make a decision to revisit the guidelines. Upon consultation with members, it was agreed that the work of the committee ought to focus on assisting Faculty in the delivery of online instruction. This decision eclipsed other Committee functions, including revisiting the eLearning Guidelines.


1.3.  Charge: Serve as the faculty advisory body for the College’s program for certifying faculty for instruction in online modalities, as developed in conjunction with the Committee;


The Committee invited Mr. Denis Bejar, QCC’s Academic Applications Director, in its all meetings. This action ensured that the Committee is aware of the activities of the Office of Educational Technology (OET), and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CETL). In turn, Committee members who come from all Academic Departments and service lines were able to disseminate the information with their colleagues. 


1.4.  Charge: Provide standards for assessment of the quality of online course instructional designs, reviewing and revising these standards as needed.


1.5. Charge: Work on the assessment process and criteria related to the eLearning program of the College and report findings to the Academic Senate.


Dr. Zivah Perel Katz reached out to Dr. Ian Beckford, Director of Policy Analysis for General Education, on behalf of the Committee regarding charges 1.4 and 1.5 above. However, much like the Committee, CETL was also focused on helping faculty with online pedagogy and did not have the bandwidth to pursue other projects.

1.6   Charge: Serve as an advisory body for all matters related to eLearning.


Due to the campus closure beginning in March 2020 up to the time of this writing, most if not all learning at the College is delivered electronically. This behooved the Committee to closely coordinate with the ADC, OET, CETL, and the Academic Senate to provide support and oversight in all matters pertaining to eLearning.



  1. The eLearning Committee’s charges and accomplishments, as outlined in a Steering Committee memorandum dated September 13, 2020:


2.1   Charge: Continue to work to advance faculty awareness of eLearning Institute and other related webinars (offered by CETL and OET) faculty development opportunities. Report on effectiveness of CETL and OET offerings.


Due to the increased demand from Faculty, CETL and OET offered the eLearning Institute in Spring 2021 and Summer 2021. In years past, the aforesaid course is only offered in the Summer. Committee members who are eLearning certified participated in these iterations of the eLearning Institute as moderators and support staff. Committee members also actively encouraged their colleagues in different Academic Departments to sign up for the course.


2.2   Charge: Continue to monitor any progress in discussing implementation of other “High Impact Activities” (particularly the Common Read) in eLearning Institute and/or any Policies, Guidelines, or Guides being developed. Work with CETL and/or OET to encourage PNET/FNET courses to participate in the Common Read.


The Common Read HIP program also needed to recalibrate its activities due to the pandemic. As of Spring 2021, CETL leadership announced it has selected George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy as its selected book which was quite appropriate given the anti-Asian hate crimes that transpired during the time. All eLearning Committee members were encouraged to participate, and to disseminate the Common Read.


2.3   Charge: Continue to reach out to other Standing committees of the Academic Senate (e.g., Academic Development Committee) to inquire how the committees can assist each other in working towards a common goal.


As mentioned above, the Committee has worked hand in hand with the ADC during this Academic Year. The three areas of collaboration between ADC and eLearning this Academic Year include: (1) revision of the Student Evaluation Form of Faculty described in 1.1 above; (2) joint Brown Bag sessions, and (3) College-wide survey of Faculty on their perceptions regarding the Student Evaluation Form of Faculty.


2.4   Charge: Continue to create and disseminate the Committee Newsletter.


The committee continued with its biannual newsletter this Academic Year. The idea of coming up with an HTML template for the newsletter came about in the committee meetings of Spring 2021. This prompted the undersigned to work collaboratively with Mr. Dave Moretti and Mr. Peter Varkey of the Marketing and Communications Office. Discussions began in mid-April, and the HTML template was completed in August 2021. The HTML format of the newsletter was endorsed to the incoming chair, Professor Susan Lago.


2.5   Charge: Continue to create and advertise the Brown Bag lunch seminar.  Also implement an assessment form at the end of each seminar to inquire on what type of topics faculty are interested in attending.


It has been customary that the eLearning Committee offers Brown Bag workshops to familiarize Faculty with new educational technologies and how to incorporate the same in their pedagogy. In Fall 2020, the Committee hosted a Brown Bag on the use of Pear Deck, an application that makes traditional PowerPoint slide presentations more interactive. The session was led by Professor Susan Lago on October 28, 2021.


Come Spring 2021, the undersigned realized that ADC is offering similar workshops. Not only is this duplication of effort, but also makes the two committees compete for participants. Hence, I moved that eLearning and ADC, in cooperation with CETL, work collaboratively in this regard. The result was an impressive Brown Bag workshop series. The topics covered and moderators are as follows:





Finding the Balance: Communication, Feedback, and Time Management

Dr. Melissa Dennihy

April 6

Tips for Teaching from Home More Comfortably

Dr. Kevin Kolack

April 7

Using VoiceThread to Achieve Learning Goals

Dr. Punita Bhansali

April 8

Using Ted-Ed to Create Scaffolded Lessons

Prof. Susan Lago

April 15

A little bit of Empathy goes a long way

Ms. Arlene Callwood

April 21

FlipGrid: Establishing Community in the Remote Classroom

Prof. John Yi

April 22

Incorporating Universal Design for Learning in Online Teaching

Dr. Angela Dotterman and Dr. Kathleen Alves

April 29

Creating a Growth Mindset to foster Student Motivation

Dr. Rezan Akpinar and Dr. Ilse Schynemakers

May 6


2.6   Charge: Maintain website with meeting minutes and agenda, with special attention to ADA compliance.


The eLearning website was jointly managed by the Committee chair and secretary. Concerns regarding ADA compliance were referred to Mr. Dave Moretti, who graciously and promptly responded to every inquiry.



III. The eLearning Committee’s charges and accomplishments, as initiated by the committee itself are as follows:


3.1   Charge: Report on committee representation at tech fee meetings.


The undersigned attended and offered insights to the QCC leadership during Tech Fee meetings, which was held on December 4 for the Fall 2020 semester, and on March 23 for the Spring 2021 semester. Proceedings of the meetings were then reported back to the Committee.  


3.2   Charge: Continue to review and disseminate the eLearning Guideline every Fall semester to every department chair.


        As discussed in 1.2 above, the Committee decided to forgo reviewing the eLearning Guidelines to focus on helping faculty with online pedagogy. Committee members encouraged their respective Department Chairs to utilize the extant eLearning Guidelines that are available in the QCC website. I endorsed revisiting of the eLearning Guidelines to the next Committee chair.


3.3   Charge: The form created for PNET courses can be reviewed again by the committee in the next year and further steps may be taken to officially use it.


Work pertaining to this charge was discussed in items 1.1 and 2.3 above. More substantive revisions for FNET, PNET, and traditional (face to face) classes are in the works, in collaboration with the ADC.


3.4   Charge: The eLearning Guidelines stress that FNET/PNET courses should offer the same outcomes as traditional face-to-face courses, and that assessment should occur to insure that the modality of instruction has no impact on the student experience. Although the Committee had previously analyzed the student grades, which did not show any difference modalities overall, lack of assessment of PNET/FNET courses has been subject of the discussions in the Committee meetings.


This self-generated charge is similar to items 1.4 and 1.5 discussed above. Initial discussions with CETL have been conducted per Dr. Zivah Perel Katz. The undersigned recommended that this be taken on by the Committee as soon as possible.


Committee Membership and Meetings


Needless to say, it was an extremely productive year for the committee.


No committee can function and accomplish anything without its members. The dedicated eLearning Committee members for this Academic Year are Professors Punita Bhansali, Svjetlana Bukvich-Nichols, Eugene Desepoli III, Merlinda Drini Prelvukaj, Sebastian Murolo, Lakersha Smith, and Zhou Zhou. Professor Susan Lago deserves special mention for zealously taking on the role of committee secretary this year. Non-voting members include Dr. Zivah Perel Katz (Steering Committee Designee), Denis Bejar (IT Academic Applications Director), and Dr. Sandra Palmer (President's Designee). In November 2020, Professor Murolo stepped down from the committee and was replaced by Dr. Celia Sporer. For this year, no student representative has attended the Committee meetings.


According to the bylaws, the eLearning Committee meets monthly on a Thursday after the scheduled Academic Senate meeting, at 3:00pm. This stipulation was upheld faithfully this Academic Year. For the Fall 2020 semester, the Committee met on September 10, October 15, November 12, and December 10. For the Spring 2021 semester, the Committee met on February 11, March 11, April 15, and May 13. Meetings were conducted via Zoom teleconferencing. All agenda and minutes were uploaded on the Committee website.


Before my term expired in May 2021, an election was conducted for the position of Chair and Secretary. The committee unanimously voted for Professor Susan Lago and Dr. Zhou Zhou, as the new chair and secretary, respectively. The end of the Academic Year also marked the expiration of the term of three committee members— Professors Bukvich-Nichols, Smith, and Desepoli. The new committee members for the upcoming year include Professors Humberto Morales, Fei Ye, and Tony Monihan. During our May 2021 meeting, the outgoing committee members were thanked and recognized, while the new members were welcomed and socialized into the committee.


With gratitude in my heart, I give back all these accomplishments to the Committee members, whose hard work and commitment made an impact on how eLearning is conducted in the College, especially in this pandemic year.


Thank you!





Randelle I. Sasa, Ph.D.(c), RN-BC, CMSRN, CCRN

Assistant Professor of Nursing

Chair of the eLearning Committee of the Academic Senate


submitted July 15, 2021

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