Pedagogo Podcast Annabelle Goodwin

Pedagogo S4E2: Community Building in Online Learning Spaces

Dr. Divya Bheda talks with Dr. Annabelle Goodwin, the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer for Northcentral University, about the importance of community building to the shared success of students and faculty in online education.

 

Guest Bio:

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin is the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer for Northcentral University and works closely with the Social Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (S-JEDI) office which is part of the National University System. Annabelle also has a history of teaching Marriage and Family Therapy and once worked as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Annabelle uses her knowledge of system theory to systemically integrate inclusive excellence into online higher education.

Transcript:

Announcer:

Pedagogo, the podcast for anyone and everyone in higher education. In today’s episode, we discuss building community in higher ed and how virtual learning spaces differ from brick and mortar institutions. We’ll explore community building strategies and tips to promote inclusion and belonging in online education. Pedagogo, brought to you by ExamSoft, the digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When assessment matters, ExamSoft has you covered.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Thank you for being here Dr. Annabelle Goodwin. It is so wonderful to have this conversation with you.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And I’m happy to be here.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So given your role and experience, why is community and community building important in today’s world for students? Let’s start with students.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I’m in higher education, primarily graduate students in an online setting and my discipline is marriage and family therapy. So community building is relationship building, uh, which is essential for a family therapist. Um, yeah, yeah, so that’s one of the cornerstones of what we do, is- is building relationships and connections. So some of the things that that does is, um, it- it helps us to have a relationship where we can feel understood. It’s a relationship where we can be challenged or ask questions or gain new insights. So for a student, building a community is how they can get the support that they need as a student and they can also learn and grow.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. And the same thing when we- when we apply that to faculty and staff, as well as institutional leaders, right? Uh, from what you’re sharing, it sounds like yes, there is a relationship. Why would you say community and building community is important for higher ed when you think about faculty, staff and leaders, administrators respectively?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What’s coming to mind for me is why we need to be really intentional about it.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, so I’ve worked in a traditional on ground setting before. And in that environment, you can bump into somebody in the halls, um, you can run into somebody in the parking lot, you can…

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

There’s all of these kind of interactions that we have that are not planned and you never know what it’s going to be, right? You (laughs)-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yes.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

You might be having a bad day or somebody may have just gotten rained on and you comment on- on that. Or there’s all of these kind of casual, unpredictable ways that we connect with people in the-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

You know, physical setting. And that doesn’t really happen a whole lot in the online setting.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah. What you’re saying- what you’re saying makes me think of, you know, the stopping by your desk, right? You can just stop by someone’s desk and then say, “Hey, I need to process this,” or, “I need to have a quick chat or something.” But in the online space, it feels like it’s more intentional in the sense of you can only do it by planned meetings.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Definitely. Yeah. Whe- when you were talking like you might stop by somebody’s ask, I’m thinking, you know, as a faculty member, um, I can think of both of the settings where I worked. Well, all three of the settings where I was a professor before coming online.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I knew the person who might identify as a secretary or administrative assistant, I knew them all well.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And I can picture exactly where I stood or sat when I was engaging with them (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

In all of these cases, they were women.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But they were friends of mine and I would go and sit at their desk, sit in at their desk and we’d have a conversation. And I know they know everything about what’s happening in the program, they know the schedules, they know all the important details. And I know in the online setting, I have to be a lot more intentional about fostering those relationships because, you know, I can’t go pull up a- a chair (laughs) at their desk in the same kinda way.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs). Right. And- and it often feels like given that I’ve worked in an online institution too and I work online now, um, it also feels like are we taking up people’s time and causing inefficiencies? But… And are we? When you say be intentional, that means we should be intentional about building these times for so-called being inefficient, but building relationship (laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Because that will lead to better productivity and better communication and information sharing.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Absolutely, yeah. And then I’m also just thinking like in that example I was just giving, it helps people to feel valued for their role and the important job that they do and the important service that they provide.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

It might be a little easier for me to not take that time because I have an easy excuse that I’m back to back in meetings. But if I’m intentional about engaging, I learn something new. Of course, I’m getting something out of the relationship too, but I’m also hopefully helping somebody to feel more valued (laughs) by the wonderful things that they do with their work to make all of our lives easier.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. Then I have the same question for students as well. So when you think about students, is an online experience more isolating would you say than an in person experience or is it less so? And so how can we be more intentional? If I go back to that theme of intentionality, how would that apply to how we build community or help students build their own communities and find relationships with each other and maybe even with faculty and stuff in the online environment?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. One thing I’ll say is I’ve shared with people over the years, ’cause I’ve been in the online space now for nine years. Um, it’s very similar to a traditional brick and mortar where if a student doesn’t really wanna engage and they wanna hang back in the back of the class and they don’t really wanna participate a lot, they might be able to get away with that, right?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, obviously some professors in some classes are structured in such a way that you can’t really (laughs), but there’s still that dynamic and there’s still students who wanna hang back, um, for various reasons.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Maybe they are disengaged or maybe they just process differently and- and prefer a little bit more physical distance (laughs) and space.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But for students online, you know, faculty are so busy. It- it’s pretty easy to let yourself off the hook if there’s somebody who’s kind of hanging back and doesn’t really wanna engage. Um, it’s easy to prioritize the folks that are really showing up and engaging in more overt kinds of ways.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

One strategy I would use is, um, having a- a table where I have all of my students’ names and I’m recording outreach and engagement with those students because I’m doing what I need to do in terms of reviewing their work and getting it back. And like all of that has a cadence and timeline that the institution pays attention to, and that is tied to my job performance (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But in order for me to go a little bit further to make sure that folks really are getting what I feel they deserve from me.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I have to keep a separate kind of chart or table to keep track of when did I reach out last? When did I hear back? Was it a video conversation? Was it a email? Was it a phone call? Again, being intentional and tracking those things, um, that was a good strategy for me for making sure that I was providing the level of engagement or at least offering it to my students.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So this intentionality that you’re talking about and the idea that you first talked about which was relationship building, right? So when we think of community and community building, at least the people that I’ve spoken to, their mind goes to community building for action or for some kind of organizing versus what we’re talking about here is building relationships.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Building relationships intentionally with people proactively with people, not letting that rest as a responsibility only with students or only with someone else and engaging in that action in whatever role we find ourselves in and planning time for that. What I also hear you saying is whether you’re in person or whether you’re online, the initiative has to come from faculty to build relationships with students and to check in with students and not let that responsibility lie with students.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Because oftentimes the students who most need our support and most need that relationship and mentoring are the ones who are least likely to ask for it.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I- I agree with you and I will also say it makes me think about some of my training that I’ve had as a family therapist. And I remember that there was this kind of way of thinking that I- I heard it from some professors and then I heard challenged to it by other (laughs) professors. And it- the line was, uh, you can’t work harder than your clients. So like you show up and you do your piece, but you can’t work harder than- than they do.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And then I heard some wise professors who said, “No, that’s our job. (Laughs). That’s our role. That’s what we’re there for, is to find a way of inspiring or engaging or connecting and, you know, to help because this person is struggling and they’re coming to us for help.” So I think of it kind of similarly with students, is I do think that I need to be willing to work a little bit harder than they do (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, and there’s a whole lot of reasons why as you were describing, there’s a whole lot of reasons why somebody might not be able to show up in the way that majority of folks expect they should, right? (Laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. Yeah. And that- that’s all tied to equity, comes back down to equity, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

That we make assumptions about how people need to show up and- and what it means and what influences we make when they don’t.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And then the assumptions and the pathologizing that we engage in when they don’t live up to our expectations, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, yes.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I agree. You know, what I hear all the time is I didn’t wanna bother you (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right, right. There’s a difference, right? I remember as a student like, I- I don’t wanna come across as- as incompetent or as needing help. What seems like maybe a- a very easy question that everyone else seems to know so I don’t wanna come across as the one who doesn’t know it.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So I’ve heard you talk about the inclusive excellence approach, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And could you talk a little bit more about what inclusive excellence is and how you apply that in the work that you do?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. This was a… It came from a paper that was authored by AAC&U in 2005.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And it was a model for how to systemically-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

I think Damon Williams, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, that’s right.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yes.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yes.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

How to Systemically Integrate Inclusivity Across All Aspects of Higher Education Programming.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And it’s gone through a couple of evolutions. that initial paper, I think had four different dimensions, but now there are, tend to be five that people identify. And those are access and success, institutional climate, and inter-group relations, education and scholarship, institutional infrastructure, and community. And I actually have some questions associated with each of these dimensions that I think could be kind of helpful for an institution to ask of themselves. So for access and success, we might ask, the current composition of the institution why does it look the way it does?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What types of support are provided to faculty, staff, students, and leaders? What are hopes for the future in terms of access, affordability, and success for our workplace and students?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What are we already doing well in these areas? What are the opportunities for strategic change to help the institution to realize its hopes?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Nice.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And then for institutional climate and inter-group relationships, we might ask, what does it feel like to be an employee or a student within this institution? Are there differences in perceptions and experiences across different group identification? What organizational processes, policies, and culture contribute to these results?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What are your hopes for the future for climate and intra or inter-group- group relationships at the institution?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And then another is what change does the institution need to make in order to realize its hopes?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Nice. Okay.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

For education and scholarship, some key questions are, what do you notice about previous current educational practices and research support in terms of diversity and inclusivity? Do the topics and modes of delivery create authentic learning and promote skill development?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What kinds of research activities are valued and supported? And you can also ask which aren’t (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What are your hopes around learning, training, and research at the institution? What are current areas of strength at the institution and which strategies or interventions will help the institution realize these hopes? For infrastructure some key questions. What is the organizational structure and capacity for supporting inclusion and equity at the institution?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What is the current capacity of leaders to initiate and sustain inclusive practices and support transformation to create equitable experiences and outcomes for the workforce and students? How does the institution use qualitative and quantitative data related to equity and inclusion? And then for community engagement, a couple of key questions are, what is the public profile of the institution? What grants or scholarships does the institution provide to community partners? How is inclusion and equity embedded in current internal partnerships? So one specific thing there is, you know, looking at vendors (laughs), how are you selecting vendors and how can you do some more equitably?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What are your hopes around internal partnerships and community engagement for the institution? So all of these questions and each of these dimensions provide us with key areas to focus on. And back to the idea of community, this framework assumes that it takes attention from all of us and that it takes the community in order to really attend well to all of these different dimensions. That part has been a little stickier for me since I’m online and we’re really geographically dispersed because a lot of institutions talk about what kind of impact do they have in their local community and whether or not they’re really good stewards of social justice within their local community. So I’m still learning about how to best attend to that piece, um, in the online space.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. Yeah, in- in terms of influencing wherever the local communities are, where your students are, where you are all are as- as faculty.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So how can we build intentional community in a siloed higher ed world for greater impact?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. Well, one of the things I’ll say about that piece too is, um, one of the features of the inclusive excellence model that I love most is that it requires that it be part of everybody’s job. I was actually just chatting with a friend about this, and she said that she had worked with different diversity officers within like a local government context.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And she said she had a couple people say, “Um, my priority is to work myself out of a job because I want this to be better integrated throughout the whole organization.” And I shared with her, “I’m not trying to work myself out of a job (laughs) because I think it’s really important for there to be a lead diversity officer or team at least of sorts.”

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But I also think I will never know all there is to know about inclusive excellence in marketing, inclusive excellence in advising, then data collection and reporting (laughs) in teaching strategies, in building curriculum.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

It’s important that everybody recognize that they need to play a role in inclusive excellence, whatever their space is.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I don’t think I’m totally answering your question, but I think when I meet with new people, when I’m really intentional about reaching out in, um, meeting that new person from marketing or taking time with that person in advising, I’m seeing them all as potential stewards of this work (laughs) who can partner with me because it can’t be up to one person.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. So when we think about doing this work, it’s not necessarily one person’s work, it is everybody’s work. But there is much to learn from so many angles and the work is never completely done because we don’t know what we don’t know, is what I’m also hearing, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

What are some challenges that you see in building community, in building relationships and folks working together towards equity, towards student success in your work?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

One of the biggest challenges feels like this world is wild right now. People are maxed out and working really hard and navigating a lot of personal things in addition to really heavy workloads and it feels like one more thing. Like, um-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, Annabelle, what you described is really important, but they really can’t prioritize that right now because they are just scrambling to keep up with all of their day to day things.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

It’s something that I hear. Yeah, you are so… you’re spot on. It’s something that I hear every day.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That’s one. A huge other piece here is I am super self-conscious and ashamed and I don’t wanna get it wrong and I don’t wanna offend anybody by saying the wrong thing so it’s easier to just not engage in that conversation and leave it up to Annabelle, or whoever else (laughs) says that they’re interested in doing DEI work. Um, that’s another big obstacle.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right, okay. Any- any others that come to mind?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I think that there’s certainly the piece that some people don’t think that it’s necessary. There are plenty of people who feel like, “Hey, we’re in a great place. Things are pretty equal and fair. I don’t think that we… You know, that’s just a bunch of PC nonsense. We don’t really need to be investing our time in this (laughs).”

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. And the challenge is that when we think of any kind of equity work or student success work, it involves changing priorities, it involves changing the way we are doing business and it involves normalizing that change, which then means, can we share the load? Can we share… have conversations about this in addition to the maxed out responsibilities that we already have? Right? And so, yeah, I can see where all these challenges come up (laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Would you say there are any unique challenges specifically to being in the online space?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Something that just came to mind is um, we could talk about it as a challenge or an opportunity. So I recently came back from a National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, uh, NADOHE Conference.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And, um, majority of my colleagues are brick and mortar on a campus and student activism looks very different online compared to in person.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And so, you know, people will say never waste a good crisis (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Like when students rally and come together and raise their voices and demand things.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That’s great (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Often. It- it’s- it’s often a great thing that can lead to change. Um, a lot of offices like mine were built because students demanded that something change or be done differently. And I haven’t seen that same kind of energy in students online.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Most of our students are working adults. A lot of ’em have families in addition to working full-time jobs and being students. That’s a piece of it for sure.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

There are other factors too, but we don’t have that same kind of like the students are expecting this from us right now, we must respond (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And so I think that that’s kind of a missed opportunity.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah. I can see why you said that it should be a- it could be a challenge and you can see it as an opportunity. And if we saw it as an opportunity, I- I would say then we could even think about ways in which we center the importance of community building. Because I know as a grad student, and maybe you could speak to this as well, but as a grad student, many times we felt alone, I felt alone.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

I was like, “Am I the only one having this experience? Maybe it’s just me.” And so we internalize things and we pathologize ourselves and say, “There’s something wrong like I’m having this experience.” And we don’t realize that it’s the system that is set up in a way or we have someone who’s engaging in behaviors that they shouldn’t be. And because we don’t have a community to go and process that with, then we start internalizing that.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

I saw that a lot with international students who had experiences of racism or, you know, where it would be, “Oh, wait, something’s wrong with me.” And then when my research study was in our international student experiences, and when we actually had focus groups, many times the conversations would be like folks ending up in tears like it was a cathartic feeling saying, or a validation that, “Oh my God, that wasn’t me. It was actually the system that was set up to make me feel like that.”

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

When I didn’t understand what it was. And so what you are telling me then sounds like we don’t know what the online experience is as more and more folks choose to go online.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Because it… there is increased accessibility. It does serve many equity goals by going online and offering more flexible hybrid programs.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

We need to be considering how we are creating a space for student feedback and for student engagement and for students to connect with each other so that they don’t feel alone and whatever they’re experiencing.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

‘Cause we may never be able to spot issues or a particular person or processes that are not working because everyone’s just like, “Maybe it’s just me and I need to get through this and get my degree and get out.”

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). So I will say online, there are some avenues where students can gather, but I don’t think… I don’t know for sure, but it’s not the same thing as gathering with a group of your colleagues or peers around a table physically.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But we have set up, we have a platform called the commons and it’s basically like a academic Facebook page or something where we have dedicated spaces for different student communities. We fairly recently started La Casa for Latinx students, we have a black brown and African-American connection.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, we have a native indigenous base dedicated LGBTQ space. Um, that one’s been around a little bit longer and I know that something else they do is they hold these kind of open meetings once a month. and they’re facilitated by a faculty and a student faculty from the marriage and family therapy program and the student. and I think that those are pretty engaging and wonderful spaces. So we do have these dedicated spaces where students can come together. Some of the pages are more active than others. And I do the think that they’re a nice way of community building and a good source of connection, but they still haven’t yet turned into that, I’m making a demand of my institution (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

So I think that if we had a little bit of that passion, sometimes it might help me to move things forward (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right, right. So building on what you’re saying, do you think collaboration and effort like moving the needle is possible without community?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I think that it’s possible to move the needle, but I think that it’s definitely enriched and the sense of belonging is much deeper. I think that it- it just feels better, um, feels more connected when there’s community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Uh, I think it’s- I think it’s possible to collaborate and get things done, but not in the way that feels best to me (laughs) without that community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs), right. So, you know, I- I remember reading somewhere that the equity gap wasn’t so much an equity gap, but a networking gap, like there was some research around that. And basically it was a lot of times students of color or minoritized students didn’t realize like the importance of that relationship building and spending the time and knowing who was who. And so I wonder, would you say that that’s true in terms of having students realize that the time spent in getting to know your peers and getting to know, um, colleagues and seeking out mentoring relationships and seeking out that community, that’s an important priority in terms of time spent given everything else you have going on?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. I agree with that absolutely. But I also think if we go back in our conversation, I think that just goes hand in hand with the proactivity of the faculty and others who are in a position of power to- to make introductions or to build connections.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right, right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I- I think it’s absolutely time well spent and I think it’s a good place for us to try to stretch ourselves where we can.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I think many of us are uncomfortable doing that.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. Your talk about the commons also made me realize like if you have students and if students can opt in, but they can create their own groups, like there’s enough social media now where if they are willing to share their personal information, they can be a group email, or they can be a group phone number chat, messaging so that they don’t feel monitored, but they can interact with each other and figure out, you know, what’s happening and how do we wanna connect and how do we wanna stay in touch and process certain things? So we leave the onus on to students in terms of building that group amongst themselves, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And maximizing that community. How do you find your community when you feel all alone?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I think the unfortunate truth is I wait a little too long. I should learn to notice and (laughs) and well, to recognize and affirm those feelings a little bit earlier so that I can be more proactive in reaching out. So I think that to begin with, I probably do it a little later than I should (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, but I’ve got a- a good handful of folks who are also really invested in this work who I know care for me and who know enough about the context of this place, that I could kind of give ’em a- a download without having to orient them to the whole online higher education (laughs) context.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yes. Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, so I will reach out to friends from time to time and share what’s going on and, and ask for feedback or just ask that they listen. Um, so I think I tend to do it in more of a one-on-one space. Um-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I also think like that conference I was referencing, that’s on my mind ’cause I was just there a couple of weeks ago. Um, and you know, feeling pretty maxed out, um, in a lot of ways personally and professionally.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

But going there, I didn’t specifically ask anybody for support, but one of the things that I got from attending that conference was the affirmation that I am appropriately fired up (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs), right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That my-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

It’s your checkpoint, it’s your accou- accountability checkpoint, right? Like [inaudible 00:29:06].

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. So I’m appropriately fired up. I’m not being too sensitive or too pushy or uh, too political or, you know, the critiques you could get. Uh, I’m being appropriate in terms of what I’m wanting and en- envisioning, um-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah, for your students, for your institution, for the world.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And it sounds affirming too, right? Because you said that you were maxed out and then you- you went to this community, um, not necessarily seeking any individual, but you went and were in that space and that gave you that affirmation and that inspiration to continue doing the work you do.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Um, what do you do when you don’t feel part of a community? Because a lot of times when we think about community, we think about like-minded people, right? But, um, what do you do when you suddenly realize that the community that you thought you were a part of is not your space anymore?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Like you have either outgrown it or it’s not in line with your thinking and values anymore, or, you know, the leadership changes or something.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And so I’m talking about more organized communities, your professional community or- or any relationship group.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Where you think like, “Okay, this group is there to support me,” and then you realize, “oh my God, like they just don’t get it.” (Laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. I would say that that has happened and there are definitely times when I do feel alone. A couple of strategies. One is I try to broaden it beyond my specific workspace I had mentioned earlier in our conversation like that new person in marketing, take time to get to know each other so they might be a resource. Like look at those other people (laughs) like maybe they’re outside of the group who you felt was most important for your day to day work, reach out to that assessment director who seems very like-minded with you, who, you know, (laughs)-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Um, you wouldn’t necessarily have to depend on each other to get your job done, but they could be a resource to help kind of anchor you and what matters most and then also just help you to feel connected to another person. Sometimes you recognize that then that’s all that you can take and that’s all you have to give a place and that you have to be willing to walk away so that your work can align with your values.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

So I have just two more final questions. We had touched on this right up at the beginning where you said, you know, you gave this example of students coming, oftentimes not seeking out help when they most needed it or not reaching out because they didn’t want to disturb you or they thought that they were troubling you. Um, so we talked about how we need to intentionally proactively reach out to students for them to feel connected and for them to feel engaged and to build that feeling of inclusion and belonging in students.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

How do we do that with faculty and staff in the higher ed online space? Is that ever a way in which we can build group relationships?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I think that there definitely is. And in the marriage and family therapy program, we had a weekly meeting on Fridays. I’ve been here for nine years. There was a period of time it was two hours, 90 minutes, 60 minutes. Um, so it’s changed in response to what faculty said that they were needing. So for one thing, the structure was responsive to what the faculty said that they were needing.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

In that meeting, it was called a student success summit and in that meeting faculty, and then the advisors who supported the family therapy students and the leadership, they all came together to talk through student issues. And, you know, again, throughout the years, there had to be conversations about how we structure our time, how we talk about students, um, how do we talk students in a way that’s productive and then also very respectful, and what do we do if somebody says something that isn’t respectful? (Laughs). So there’s a lot of those kinds of process conversations that keep that space productive, but it’s also very community building.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

So one of the things that I noticed is not everywhere do faculty and advisors have a chance to connect as peers who are working in service of better supporting students. So-

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. That’s so true actually.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That’s a- Yeah, right? That’s very siloed, that’s one of those places that’s very siloed. But they came together in as close to equals kind of relationship as I’ve witnessed so far in higher education.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Nice.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That’s community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That’s because they got to know each other. You know, we’d have some conversations about people’s weekend plans or the weather ’cause again, we’re all geographically dispersed or children or sometimes we would celebrate with each other if there was a big milestone, community building happened there (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

What’s coming up for me is this idea that there is power at play too. We don’t often notice the power differentials in the room, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Oh yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And then the respect that we give whether it’s student respecting and talking about students in the respectful ways, setting that as an example, um, all the way to thinking about advisors or thinking about non-faculty members and saying, “Okay, let’s give equal weight and equal respect to the perspectives that other folks bring to the table.”

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And that’s one of the ways in which we acknowledge power.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And then put it aside and then build community around common goals.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And I mean, you’ve probably witnessed or experienced this, there’s this kind of stigma. And sometimes I think it’s earned and sometimes it’s not earned where professors can be kind of hard to deal with and they always think that they’re the experts.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

That environment, it didn’t feel like the professor was the be all end all. The professors didn’t take that up in the room.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right, right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And they also weren’t granted that, you know?

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And the advisors were respected for having a lot of insight and history with these students.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I also think that it… I don’t know this for sure, but I can imagine it helps with retention for the advisors too because they felt like they were part of a community.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And not just these, you know, people who were doing this… I mean, it’s an extremely important job in our institution.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And they’re not seen at the same level as [crosstalk 00:35:44].

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

What you’re describing, the- the power and hierarchy.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right. That’s so on point and building on that, what it also sounds like is that that space became a space where you were vulnerable together, you were all not the experts in the room and you were all willing to learn from each other, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And so being in a space where we are saying I don’t know, or I made this mistake or this is not how we wanna be, and this is how we wanna be.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Like those kinds of conversations automatically help you, it feels like Brené Brown’s work, right? Like those places where we are vulnerable, where we are exposed, we acknowledge mistakes that we make and are willing to share them and use that as a way in which other people can learn from them is another great way to build community because that happens automatically one would almost think.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Because you’re being authentic. Right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah, yeah. Good points.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Any other thoughts to share about community or student success or what higher ed folks as they think about online education, what higher ed folks should be thinking about or keeping in mind?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I’ll say we need to be really open to the truth that there are many ways of doing things (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

And there are many different people with different needs and we need to be flexible and open and willing to be vulnerable as you were describing, willing to admit if we got something wrong.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

We need to be committed to ongoing learning and growth.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah. I think that those are some- some areas that can get a little sticky for us, we can get a little stagnant (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah. And that’s where the community helps to keep us accountable, keep us on point.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

And move us forward, right?

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

It’s- it’s- it’s often like the mirror that we need, reflecting-

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah, where we are and where we wanna be.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Find those accountability partners, you know, the person who’s gonna say, “No, uh, uh, I think that you- you missed something there (laughs), I think that you could approach that differently.”

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Right.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

I think you could go back and apologize (laughs).

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs).

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Find friends that are willing to do that for you, yeah.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

Yeah, Thank you, Dr. Goodwin. Thank you, Annabelle. We had a great conversation where we covered everything from being intentional, proactive, all the way to effectively reaching out, building authentic relationships, communicating and building networks that take into account the powers differentials that we don’t often see that are just present. And so I really appreciate all the knowledge that you shared and the inclusive excellence model, the note that you shared on that as well as some things that our listeners can take in and learn more about.

Dr. Annabelle Goodwin:

Yep. It was great to be with you.

Dr. Divya Bheda:

(Laughs). Yes, thank you.

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Pedagogo, brought to you by ExamSoft, a digital assessment solution that gives you actionable data for improved learning outcomes. When assessment matters, ExamSoft has you covered. This podcast was produced by Divya Bheda and the ExamSoft team. Audio engineering and editing by Adam Karsten and the A2K productions crew. This podcast is intended as a public service for entertainment and educational purposes only, and is not a legal interpretation nor statement of ExamSoft policy, products or services.

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The views and opinions ex expressed by the hosts or guests of this show are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of ExamSoft or any of its officials, nor does any appearance on this program imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Additionally, reference to any specific product, service or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ExamSoft. This podcast is the property of ExamSoft Worldwide LLC, and it’s protected under US and international copyright and trademark laws. No other use, including without limitation, reproduction, retransmission or editing of this podcast may be made without the prior written permission of ExamSoft.

 

Published: May 24, 2022

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