In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the St. Mary’s University community has adapted — faculty stepping up to deliver quality education to students from a distance.

Robbie Bishop-Monroe, D.B.A., Assistant Professor of Accounting, shared takeaways from her spring classes in a Q&A. Bishop-Monroe, also a CPA, joined St. Mary’s in 2019. She specializes in accounting, auditing and governmental accounting. In Spring 2020, she taught Introduction to Accounting, Governmental Accounting and Auditing.

Q: What was your approach in switching to online learning in a short period of time?

A: My approach to switching online swiftly was to, first, immediately adjust my mindset and accept that I would not be able to see my students in person and capture the in-person synergy from our class sessions. This was difficult to embrace. However, it challenged me to be creative with developing a remarkable virtual classroom experience. Afterward, I connected with the Academic Instructional Technology team to brainstorm the best methods to deliver the course content in an interesting, engaging and effective way. This team has been very supportive of advancing the use of instructional technologies.

Overall, my primary focus was on making the transition smoother for my students while incorporating the mission of St. Mary’s University into the new online learning experience. I achieved this goal by adapting to a change in academic instructional delivery. For example, I implemented multiple methods of engagement in my online courses. I was able to educate students in the family spirit by exhibiting flexibility and understanding while holding standards of educational excellence to provide an integral education. 

Q: What are some new teaching methods you’ve picked up along the way?

Bishop-Monroe snapped this picture of a classroom in the Albert B. Alkek Business Building to use as her Zoom background for class instruction.

A: I created a lightboard video presentation to teach a bank reconciliation concept, launched polls during the virtual teaching sessions to engage students, created a virtual Zoom background based on a real picture from my classroom, and hosted guest speakers on Zoom (a cloud-based videoconferencing platform) for our classroom.

Q: What has been your biggest area or opportunity for growth in teaching online thus far?

A: The largest opportunity for growth in teaching online is ascertaining how to find diverse, innovative ways to engage learners to create a personalized experience.

Q: What has been most surprising?

A: I have been amazed by the ease of use of online teaching tools and the countless features available to enhance students’ learning.

Q: What has been the most beneficial experience of teaching online?

A: I was able to expand my availability to the students through flexible options. For example, I hosted virtual expanded office hours through Zoom including some weekend timeframes. Also, students were able to connect with me through email, phone calls, text messages and live video.  

Q: Students look to you for guidance, for wisdom, especially during times of crisis. How have you managed your own challenges and anxieties during this time?

A: I stay connected with God through prayer, bond with friends and family, and focus on my health and wellness. For example, I meditate, run, exercise, eat restorative foods and manage my workload to ensure excellence in all areas. Overall, I embrace the many blessings that God has bestowed upon me and I actively look for opportunities to help others I encounter along life’s journey.

Watch the video below to learn from Bishop-Monroe’s lecture from her Introduction to Accounting I course.

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