Fostering Community Through Openness and Transparency

A veteran online instructor, Randal Root finds the switch to remote learning this year has shown learners and instructors the positive aspects of the format, especially the increased accessibility it provides.

It’s pretty awesome that a person in India, New York, Mexico or wherever can still participate in our courses. The fact that education becomes more readily available through online learning is important.

Randal Root

Noncredit certificate programs offer the perfect mix of quality instruction, relevant educational content and a level of commitment that works for students at any point of the 60-Year Curriculum. For a student early in their career, a certificate provides the opportunity to break through in their field.

Certificate programs can also offer a chance for established professionals to augment their skillset with cutting-edge tools. No matter where they are in their career, students will learn from accomplished instructors like Randal Root, who teaches numerous IT and coding certificate courses.  

Randal Root was seven weeks into teaching a Foundations of Python Programming course in downtown Seattle when the pandemic hit. As a veteran online instructor, Randal knew how important it was to foster open lines of communication to bridge the distance.  

“The big trick is openness and transparency,” Randal said. “It can be a challenge, but we need to come up with ways to build a community, and sometimes it’s as simple as opening the class meeting 15 minutes early to chat informally.”

During a tumultuous year filled with a global pandemic, protests against police brutality, a presidential campaign and wildfire smoke, building a sense of classroom community also required Randal to consider all the outside factors weighing on students’ minds.

“Reducing stress was really important,” he said. “You don’t want to overstress them, but you don’t want the class to be too easy either. We had to find the right balance.”

Randal has taught online classes with us for years, and he believes the forced switch to online learning this year has shown learners and instructors the positive aspects of the format, especially the increased accessibility it provides.

“It’s something we’ve been moving toward for a long time, but we haven’t had the pressure to really make the change this quickly, and I think this is going to be the impetus for that,” Randal said. “It’s pretty awesome that a person in India, New York, Mexico or wherever can still participate in our courses. The fact that education becomes more readily available through online learning is important.”