COA Innovative HyFlex Data Coaching & Equitable Scheduling Retreat
Fifty-nine College of Alameda faculty, classified professionals, students, and administrators gathered for the College’s first hybrid flexible (HyFlex) event since the start of the pandemic. The event was held over two half day sessions on October 7 and 8, 2021. Titled Just in Time Data Coaching and Equitable Scheduling Retreat, the innovative event focused on data literacy, improving the scheduling process, and aligning planning with both institutional and district goals. Twenty participants attended in-person, adhering to the District’s masking and social distancing Covid-19 safety guidelines, and 39 individuals joined virtually using Zoom.
This special event was timed to coincide with the last draft and fine tuning of the Spring 2022 Schedule and was organized by Acting Vice President of Instruction Dr. Diana Bajrami, Professional Development Committee Chair Professor Maurice Jones, and Office of Research and Planning Director Dominique Benavides.
The principles of equitable student access and success, as well as the College’s work on Guided Pathways, informed the retreat’s specific focus and design. Topics included: Scheduling Challenges; Greetings from President Dr. Nathaniel Jones III, CoA Enrollment Model Presentation; Essentials of Scheduling–Course and Faculty Load; From the Enrollment Model to the Discipline Plan Applications; Data Coaching: Tools and Approaches to Equitable Scheduling; Budget Aspects of Scheduling; Student Voices – Learning Resources Center Tutors’ Feedback; and concluding with breakout sessions for Finalizing and Fine Tuning the Last Draft of Spring Schedule 2022.
Retreat participants included the Professional Development Committee, cluster chairs, discipline leads, instructional deans, faculty, classified professionals, and planning and research staff. One of the intended outcomes of the retreat was to prepare faculty and staff for effective participation in the College’s upcoming Education Master Planning process, which will begin in Spring 2022.
The first day of the retreat featured greetings and remarks by President Dr. Nathaniel Jones III and presentations by Acting VPI Dr. Bajrami, Director Benavides, and Professor M. Jones focusing on demystifying the budget allocation model, CoA’s enrollment management model and its alignment with the new Student-Centered Funding Formula (SCFF). Presentations were followed by a robust discussion about the return to in-person campus classes and services.
Learning Resources Center Coordinator Ms. Anna O’Neal and student tutors provided essential feedback regarding course and degree certificate offerings. Senior Academic Support Services Specialist Ms. Min Wu offered an in-depth training for all department chairs and discipline lead faculty members on every element of scheduling from course load to budget and from labs to non-instructional services. Curriculum and Assessment Specialist Frank Nguyen organized a fun and informative interactive game that illustrated how the assessment of learning is connected to the scheduling process.
On October 8, 2021, the presentations emphasized the importance of using data to guide CoA’s scheduling of services and classes, with a vigorous focus on equity and the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on African American, Latinx, Asian, and communities of color. This impact has been reflected in California community colleges enrollment and at College of Alameda. Acting VPI Bajrami and Director Benavides further engaged and encouraged faculty members to employ state-wide and College equity data in planning a Spring 2022 Semester that will mitigate known challenges faced by first-time students, African American, Latinx, Asian, and low-income students. Dr. Beal Uribe and Dr. Bajrami presented an in-depth overview about the application of the Enrollment Model to the discipline level using multiple data and student success rates. Learning Resource Center tutors Seyer Sadat, Jacob Ahmed, Sahar Sadat, Quan Pham, Kai Crisby, Thai Doung and Tuan Le Pham generated a hearty discussion and provided insightful recommendations on how the schedule and courses could be more student focused. Senior Supervisor of Business and Administrative Services Ms. Ava Lee Pang then gave a detailed presentation on the connection between the scheduling process and the budget.
The final breakout sessions were used to fine tune the spring 2022 class schedule using the data, student feedback, and budgetary guidelines presented during the course of the retreat. Those attending the breakout sessions in-person convened in separate rooms grouped by department disciplines.
Acting VPI Dr. Bajrami was delighted to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback about the event and credits the positive contributions of the participants and presenters to the success of the retreat. “The collaborative efforts of everyone in the College of Alameda family made this Office of Instruction event a great success!” said Bajrami.
The following are some of the representative comments received from faculty and staff survey respondents about their HyFlex retreat experience:
“Awesome meeting! We should have similar training workshops for team collaboration on CoA accreditation and PCCD across four colleges for curriculum approvals.”
“As an institution, we need to have more meetings like these.”
“Organization and content were fantastic!”
“I enjoyed time with colleagues and students.”
“It is a very good opportunity to meet and get to know more faculty and staff, along with a deeper understanding of our college.”
“I greatly appreciated all addressed topics. I thought that the speakers were excellent.”
Students also expressed their great appreciation for their participation in the retreat:
"The retreat provided an incredible opportunity for me to express my ideas and concerns regarding my role as a student and the impact the pandemic has had on my academic career. The most fantastic part of this retreat was getting to know the professors and faculty on a deeper level and hearing the things they have had to go through, as well as seeing how much they care about students' ability to succeed in college and in life, and how they're just people like everyone else. As I write this, I encourage anyone reading this to be more vocal with their professors, because they’re definitely willing to go the extra mile for their students!" –CoA Student Seyer Sadat
“As a student, the first day, I mostly was an observer because I didn't really know what was going to be discussed. I knew the overall topic of the session but not the details. So I kept quiet and listened carefully to what was being said. The food was great, the atmosphere was inclusive and everyone was so nice! The second day I was more familiar with what things would be said. When it came to my portion, I was more comfortable with sharing my ideas. And of course, the food was great!" –CoA Student Jacob Ahmed
“I really thought that the retreat was insightful and a great experience because it allowed me as a student to be involved in the community and express my thoughts and concerns. I was able to see first-hand what was going on with the school and I was able to really connect with some of the teachers and it was a great seeing how understanding they were. Overall I am really thankful for this opportunity and glad I was able to come to the retreat.” !" –CoA Student Sahar Sadat
Acting VPI Bajrami also praised the work of staff who provided essential support for the HyFlex event. “Executive Assistant to the Office of Instruction Mr. Louie Martirez y McFarland did an outstanding job of coordinating all aspects of the retreat and effectively moderating the event,” said Bajrami. “Additionally, Information Technology (IT) Professionals Balamurali Sampathraj and Mr. Shawn Foster ensured that participants stayed connected both in-person and virtually.”
College of Alameda Launches a New, Student-Centered Website
After almost a year of painstaking work, intensive collaboration, and vigorous testing, CoA launched its new website on October 11, 2021. The website development team included: Academic Senate President Dr. Matthew Goldstein, Classified Senate President Kawanna S. Rollins, Dean of Counseling and Special Programs Dr. Shalamon Duke, Dean of Liberal Studies and Language Arts Lilia Celhay, Web Content Developer Shane Williams, and Vice President of Student Services Dr. Tina Vasconcellos.
Prominently featured on the new home page are the College’s fields of study, which serve as the navigational starting point for prospective students. The website also features a cutting-edge artificial intelligence chat function that is available 24-hours per day, seven days per week. For those students who prefer interacting with people, the website also offers a live virtual chat option that will be staffed by Student Services employees during regular office hours.
The website boasts a new and improved navigation system optimized for mobile friendly access and utilizing a new streamlined Uniform Resource Locator (URL) that is intended to be easier for end users to find and remember. In fact, student surveys showed that the alameda.edu URL seemed significantly more students/employee/community friendly than more cumbersome alameda.peralta.edu. In fact, 100 percent of all respondents felt that alameda.peralta.edu was not user friendly, compared to 100 percent of respondents indicating a preference for alameda.edu.
In order to improve website performance, the team also analyzed usage statistics and discovered that, while in 2009 only 0.7 percent of internet traffic was generated from mobile phones, by 2020 over 50 percent of website visitors accessed information using their mobile devices. Surveys also showed that 80 percent of our students used Apple iPhones to access the website. Additionally, analytics showed that over 60 percent of all users preferred Google Chrome to other browsers.
Other upgrades include improved readability, better accessibility, 508 compliance, updated alternative text (also known ALT tags), and the addition of assistive technology. (Note: ALT tags contain the alternative text for an image or a visual on a web page for visually impaired users who use screen readers when browsing.)
The website is currently in a soft launch phase in order to work out bugs and to provide the college community an opportunity to submit their comments and suggestions regarding both the content and design elements. On October 11, 2021, all currently enrolled CoA students received a link to the new website in an email and were asked to review the site and complete an online survey, the results of which will be used to fine tune the website prior to the public launch in January 2022.
Welcome to Our Newest Staff Member
The Career Center and Student Activities Offices is pleased to announce that it has hired Jeremy Simmons as the new staff assistant. Jeremy was born, raised, and attended community college in Southern California. He moved to Oakland in the late-90s as a transfer student to complete his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts Degree and eventually earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. For nearly 20 years, Jeremy has prided himself in taking a student-centered approach to his multi-faceted work in higher education. He lives in Oakland with his middle school-aged son, and they enjoy spending time in the City of Alameda at their favorite theater, restaurants.
This article is taken from the President’s Report, written by Dr. Nathaniel Jones III, College of Alameda President, that was presented to the PCCD Board of Trustees during their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
To view this report as a pdf click HERE