Today for our Staff Spotlight story we’re sitting down with Bernadette Bacero, one of our Instructional Designers, or IDs for short. She shares more about this important role and also gives us some insight into our Distance Learning team.
Schoolcraft College: Hello, Bernadette Bacero! Please tell us a little about your background and what led you to Schoolcraft College.
Bernadette Bacero: Hello! Feel free to call me Bee. I started my career as a secondary history teacher, teaching first at Mumford High School in Detroit and then my alma mater Divine Child High School in Dearborn. I loved sharing my passion for history and watching students grow throughout the school year. When COVID-19 arrived, I discovered I also had a knack for supporting my colleagues as we made the switch to online spaces. When the opportunity arrived to do similar work at Schoolcraft College, I leapt at the opportunity to contribute something new!
Schoolcraft College: Can you please explain what an Instructional Designer does?
Bernadette Bacero: We partner with Schoolcraft College’s faculty to design and build the best possible version of our online courses. Faculty create drafts of their online courses, and then we work with them to polish the course into its first-rate final version. The Instructional Designers approach each development in two ways:
First, we go through the course as the stand-in student. Does the material flow in an intuitive way? Does it feel welcoming (especially if the students aren’t familiar with the subject matter)? Does the workload feel manageable? Does it feel like there’s a person on the other side of the screen?
Next, we put on our Instructional Designer hats. As IDs, we’re always keeping up with the latest educational technology trends and research-based best practices. We use this expertise to keep our online courses as up to date as possible, empowering our Ocelot students to take control of their learning using the latest tools in the best ways. We also work hard to ensure that all our courses meet accessibility standards so that all students are able to actively engage in their courses.
At the end of the day, if we’re doing our job well, most people won’t notice that we’re there.
Schoolcraft College: What does a “typical” day look like for you?
Bernadette Bacero: You can usually find me working in BTC 140, affectionately nicknamed “The ID Bunker.” I’ll start my day by going over courses that are currently in development. Faculty send me the first and second drafts for their online courses. I look them over to make sure they’re properly aligned with course competencies (i.e., Are students learning exactly what we want them to learn?) and meet accessibility standards (i.e., Will all students be able to interact with this course?). I’ll offer feedback and suggestions and then send the course drafts back to faculty. We’ll continue this process several times over the course’s development until it’s ready to be built in Blackboard.
My day will also include brainstorming sessions with the other Instructional Designers and sometimes the larger Distance Learning team. The IDs consistently work as a team to troubleshoot problems common to more than one course, and I’m incredibly grateful to be part of such an energetic think tank. If one of us doesn’t have the answer, Jason Kane or Kaylynn Mortensen (our other two IDs) will be more than ready to offer a helping hand. We work as a team as much as a possible, and we wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the level of trust and professionalism between us.
Schoolcraft College: What are some of the challenges for you and your team?
Bernadette Bacero: I think the most obvious challenge is that we’re working with a wide variety of disciplines throughout the college. I could start my day working on a course in Microbiology and after lunch change gears to Spanish. This variety is what makes our partnerships with faculty so important! Our faculty are experts in their fields, and they know what students need to learn in their classrooms. We meet in the middle and collaborate on the best ways to deliver the best learning experiences for our students. What will work well in French might not translate well into a class for Criminal Investigations. We do our best to learn from every successful course development but also tackle each new course in its own unique context.
I think another challenge that comes to mind is less of a challenge and more of an opportunity. Distance Learning is taking the lead as Schoolcraft College transitions from Blackboard to Blackboard Ultra. We’re very excited to make this update as Blackboard Ultra will offer students and faculty improved course design and navigation, and Blackboard Ultra’s mobile app has been redesigned to provide a better student experience overall. There’s plenty of work ahead of us in this project, but ultimately, I think it’s work that is incredibly necessary for Schoolcraft College to stay relevant and current in the education field.
Schoolcraft College: What are some highlights for you so far?
Bernadette Bacero: I came on board to Schoolcraft at the end of June 2020. It was still early(ish) days in the pandemic, and I was working entirely remote. It would have been all too easy to feel isolated from the rest of the Distance Learning team, but they worked hard to ensure that I felt included and supported as I grew into my role. I’m incredibly grateful to each and every one of them for reaching out to me, supporting my questions, and (digitally) showing an interest in getting to know me as a person.
I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know other members of the college, particularly through the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. It’s a topic I’m particularly passionate about as a first-generation Filipino-American, and getting to know colleagues outside of Distance Learning has made me feel an even stronger connection to the Schoolcraft community.
Oh, and I can’t forget to mention my first meal at American Harvest. Just thinking about it makes me and my stomach happy.
Schoolcraft College: The COVID-19 pandemic put an even greater focus on Distance Learning. This is an area Schoolcraft College has excelled at for many years – in fact, we’re celebrating 40 years of Distance Learning. What are your thoughts about this milestone and what’s next for Distance Learning?
Bernadette Bacero: In my mind, Schoolcraft College has always been a positive fixture of the community, and so much of that can be credited to the work Distance Learning has accomplished in the past 40 years. From mailing coursework to students to broadcasting faculty lessons on public TV stations, Distance Learning has earned its reputation as a leader in the field. As a member of the Livonia community and now working here as an Instructional Designer, I can confidently say that the spirit of Distance Learning has been a combination of enthusiasm to try new things and the expertise to ground these new ideas in solid pedagogy. I hope that this attitude will continue to drive Distance Learning forward for another 40 years, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.
What’s next for us? I mentioned that Blackboard Ultra is on the horizon. We’re elbow-deep in converting current and future courses to the new format and working on the next season of Distance Learning’s award-winning series What’s Your Problem?
Schoolcraft College: Thank you, Bernadette! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bernadette Bacero: I’m looking forward to getting to know more of my Schoolcraft Colleagues as we transition to a post-COVID19 world. Feel free to stop me in the hallways to chat or pop by the ID Bunker in BTC. I would be very happy to show off my office plants. (I’m very proud of them.)