Villanova Alumna and Current Professor Adapts to the Digital Learning Environment

Assistant Professor of the Practice Jeannette-Marie Kelley ’00 MBA has been teaching at VSB for almost 20 years. Today, Kelley teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in economics and data analysis, but when she first began teaching at VSB part-time, she worked in Silicon Valley during the days and taught MBA courses remotely in the evenings. She credits these early experiences teaching courses online—in addition to constantly growing alongside technology throughout the years—with helping to ease the abrupt transition to remote learning last March.

Once universities were forced to move online in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelley had the solid foundation she needed to teach remotely. Since then, she has spent hundreds of hours focusing on the optimal utilization of Zoom, Blackboard, and MediaSite to conduct productive classes, and to continue the high quality education that VSB students have come to expect. Her interest and desire to enhance her digital acumen fueled her dedicated research about these virtual platforms. Recently, she began implementing several digital add-ons in her courses to increase student engagement and participation. She explains that one application allows students to view her screen while in breakout rooms, a function that is not possible through Zoom alone. Another application lets students submit answers to questions anonymously from their phones, allowing them to feel more comfortable participating in the virtual classroom, and ultimately increasing engagement. It also allows students to privately communicate with her about how the lesson is progressing, so that she can make adjustments “on the fly.”

Kelley has implemented other digital enhancements allowing for interactive demonstrations and games that don’t just replace, but often improve upon the physical classroom experiences. She said, “The use of these engagement methods is an important factor in distance learning. I also want to recognize the invaluable help and support I have received from UNIT to make remote teaching successful.” As she learned each one of these tools, she created reference documents and conducted online trainings so that other faculty could also learn to use them.

Kelley acknowledges that we are all working each day to adapt to the new challenges we face in the digital environment, and that things won’t always go perfectly. “More than ever, I value the advice I learned from my mother—also a VU graduate and a research librarian—who taught me how to find the answers to any question and to heighten confidence through solid preparation.” She recounts that her father, an engineer by profession and a musician on the side, taught her to “always remain calm and push forward, even when things don’t go as planned.” During these times, Kelley lives by this advice, keeping a positive attitude throughout inevitable difficulties and unforeseen challenges. As our Villanova community continues to adjust to the online learning environment, it is important to maintain the level of understanding for others, dedication to learning, and willingness to adapt that Kelley exemplifies.

We applaud Professor Kelley, and VSB faculty as a whole, for their continued commitment to innovation and development of unique digital solutions.  

Jeannette-Marie Kelley