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Expansion of Technology in the Classroom: Senior lecturer teaches on how to incorporate community in an online environment

      Senior lecturer in English and the new Director for the Center of Teaching and Learning, Rebecca Gidjunis, leads Eastern’s push for a more technological and inclusive teaching environment.

      Before taking on this role in the Center of Teaching and Learning, Gidjunis was first a student at Eastern. A 2001 graduate in Communication Studies with a minor in English, Gidjunis began her career at Eastern as an undergraduate admissions counselor. After doing this from graduation until 2004, Gidjunis began her career as a professor in 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, Gidjunis received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. To prepare herself even more for this position, Gidjunis is also working toward a graduate certificate through West Chester University in educational technology. In this program, Gidjunis is learning about instructional design as well as educational theories for an online environment.

      Even though this position brings many opportunities to Gidjunis, she still teaches in the English Department as a senior lecturer. She expressed that she loves English as much as she loves teaching. Due to this passion, Gidjunis teaches two courses a year. This semester, Gidjunis teaches English 225, Postcolonial Women’s Novels. This course includes some of Gidjunis’ favorite novels written by women who hail from previously colonized nations. This course is especially exciting for Gidjunis because she has the opportunity to teach students outside of the English Department. Postcolonial Women’s Novels fulfills the global diversity general education requirement for many Eastern students. This semester, Gidjunis is able to incorporate techniques she is learning through her graduate certification. Being able to apply these skills has also helped Gidjunis spread her experience to other faculty at Eastern to better their classroom environments as well.

      In addition, Gidjunis is in charge of planning workshops to better a growing technological environment in the classroom. When Eastern’s first-year students moved onto campus, Gidjunis and many faculty members assisted. After move in, faculty met for their first workshop. Titled, “Community Building Through Educational Technology,” the workshop included many full time as well as adjunct professors who led 20 breakout sessions for Eastern’s faculty to attend. Gidjunis plans on holding similar large workshops in Jan. and May. She also plans on having smaller ones throughout the year. In the first workshop, faculty learned how to create an inclusive environment within the technological spectrum. This included the access to closed captioning as well as easier navigation to programs for students, so that all students, no matter what kind of learners they are, are welcomed.

      Gidjunis is also working toward finalizing Eastern’s FastPass program. The FastPass program allows students to take up to two online classes for free in the summer (starting summer of 2019). These students must live on campus and be a part of Eastern’s traditional undergraduate program. In addition, the student must maintain satisfactory academic progress. Commuter students are also allowed to participate in the FastPass program at a discounted rate. Gidjunis is working on finalizing the courses that will be offered and preparing the teachers who will be leading the courses online.

      “We really want to be the frontrunner in this kind of program… we want to do this well,” Gidjunis said.

      Gidjunis has made a positive impact on Eastern’s community in each role she has played. In the long run, Gidjunis hopes that Eastern can continue to foster great instructors who can equip their students with the ability to go into a technologically driven workforce after graduation. Gidjunis also wants to develop a community within the faculty, including the adjunct professors who add so much to Eastern’s campus.

      Outside of Eastern, Gidjunis is a mother to her two-year-old son as well as a wife. She lives in Philadelphia and enjoys to travel with her family. Gidjunis is also a published author, with many of her poems and essays appearing in literary magazines.

      Sources: Eastern.edu

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