Editorial: Professors needed more time to prepare for the switch to TechConnect

Changing how classes meet right before the start of the semester hurts students and staff


The Los Rios Community College District changed the meeting system from ConferZoom to TechConnect between the summer and fall semesters of 2021. It should have given staff and students more time to adapt. (Photo via Pixabay)

Ever since American River College moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and staff have connected to Zoom meetings through ConferZoom. Shortly before the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, the Los Rios Community College District changed systems from ConferZoom to TechConnect, which made the start of the semester harder for both students and staff. 

Changing to a new system right before the beginning of the semester made staff scramble to set up a new schedule for Zoom meetings, which could take time away from preparing for the start of the semester. The change to a new system should have been made during a time of year when no one is meeting, so everyone has enough time to properly adjust. 

Alice Dieli, ARC’s faculty instructional development coordinator, says that the new interface was scheduled to be installed the day after the summer classes ended so that it could give students a chance to finish their summer class meetings.

“[The change to TechConnect gave] little time for staff to work with the new tool before the fall semester classes started,” Dieli said in an email to the Current. “However, some employees do not work throughout the summer, so the new Canvas interface was not as familiar for those who were just coming back to colleges in the middle of August and faculty did not have a chance to work with the tool in Canvas until the fall term began.”

The change in systems could have been made in-between the spring and summer semesters. The spring 2021 semester ended on May 19, and the summer 2021 semester didn’t start until June 7. 

This would have given the professors teaching summer classes almost a month to prepare for the change and make needed updates. That would also have given the professors teaching in the fall 2021 semester even longer to prepare and make the necessary adjustments as well. 

The change in systems was put in place on Aug. 8, and while there was an email sent to staff,  many professors don’t regularly check their emails if they aren’t teaching any classes. The message about the change that popped up in Canvas didn’t appear until closer to the start of the fall 2021 semester. 

If the Canvas message had appeared earlier, then more professors might have been aware of the changes sooner, which would have allowed them to have more time to prepare. And if the change would have been made before the start of the summer 2021 semester, the professors teaching in the summer would have seen it when they were preparing for the start of the semester, and the other professors would have had even longer to see that message. 

When staff isn’t prepared, that makes things more difficult for students to get the best education that they can. Having staff scramble to set up a schedule, and get used to a new system, takes away time from them preparing lesson plans and setting everything up for the start of a semester. 

The LRCCD needs to try to get messages out sooner or in a manner that will get to the staff effectively, or make changes to systems when there is a break between semesters, so students and staff can be in the best learning environment possible.