When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Butler to move classes online in mid-March, the Center for Academic Technology (CAT) supported faculty, staff, and students through the transition. While the demand for their services tripled, CAT’s four Academic Technology Specialists put in the extra hours to make sure the heart of a Butler experience wasn’t lost in a virtual setting.
As a team made up of Butler grads, they knew firsthand what makes the University special. Kristen Allen ’12 and Nick Wilson ’08 both completed undergraduate degrees at Butler, and Megan Grady, MA ’10 earned her master’s. Heather Hazelwood ’05, MS ’14, who has now moved on to new opportunities, did both.
“Our whole team loves Butler,” Allen says. “We’re always excited to come alongside faculty to assist with classroom success.”
During the second half of the spring 2020 semester, that meant working closely with instructors to mimic planned activities in an online setting. Faculty who felt most comfortable using overhead projectors switched to portable versions. Others used Zoom breakout rooms to provide spaces where students could continue collaborating. In some classes, interactive presentations were moved to online discussion boards, allowing students to still engage in meaningful conversations.
“I’ve seen faculty get really creative with their solutions,” Allen says. “Many of them have come to us and explained what they value most in their classrooms, and it’s a lot of what you think about when it comes to Butler in general: deep relationships with students. They didn’t want to lose that in moving to a remote online learning environment.”
Throughout the rest of 2020, the CAT team continued supporting faculty as most students returned to campus for a mix of online and in-person classes. The team provided training about tools and best practices for online instruction, offered ongoing assistance with day-to-day questions, and more. Through it all, they have focused on helping instructors feel confident and competent while using technology—whether class is in-person, online, or a little bit of both.
Kristen Allen ’12
Major: Math Education
“I absolutely loved my time at Butler. My professors were awesome mentors, and they helped me figure out what I wanted to do. Now, working here, I have the chance to revisit so many of the great memories I have from being on campus as a student.
After graduating, I worked for a wealth management company and did some nonprofit work, but I always loved Butler. I always loved teaching and technology. When there was an opening with the CAT, I applied right away, and I was really happy to be part of the team.”
Megan Grady, MA ’10
MA Program: Master of Arts in English
“My liberal arts education taught me to love learning, which has been really useful when it comes to technology. Most of the patience and creativity I bring to my work stems not from formalized technology training, but from habits I forged while writing one literature essay after another. As a literature student at Butler, I had to know my audience and find my angle. Helping people with technology is no different—you have to know whom you’re helping and which angles they’re likely to appreciate.
I love working with faculty, listening to what they want to accomplish in their classrooms, and thinking through which resources are available to help them do that. I love the challenge of helping people feel more comfortable with technology—to make them feel like it’s something that can actually help them be efficient.”
Nick Wilson ’08
Major: Electronic Media
“I love the lightbulb effect—when people start to understand a technology and see its full potential. For example, during COVID-19, many faculty members have tried new things and realized they might want to use those tools in all their classes moving forward. The biggest way my Butler education prepared me was by teaching me The Butler Way. I really feel that Butler is different from the average university because our faculty are so connected with the students. I think that makes a big difference.”
Heather Hazelwood ’05, MS ’14
Major: Recording Industry Studies
MS Program: Effective Teaching and Leadership
“After working at Butler for almost 10 years, I built deep relationships with faculty, which helped me support them in meaningful ways. I strive to be a solution finder, and to find joy in helping others improve their teaching for the benefit of students. I also do my best to put others’ needs before my own. While these qualities seem innate, I can’t deny that my experience as a student at Butler helped mold me into the person I am today.”