It’s time for another day of professional development workshops, and attendees are thinking, “I hope lunch will be good.” PowerPoints loom as numbing prospects in highly air conditioned rooms, but at least it’s Friday.
Hopkinsville Community College hosted the event for area kctcs schools, to stimulate lively and interesting technology tools hitting the scene. One workshop in particular featured a new tracking system that helps instructors, advisors, and administrators all see the same thing when a student is excelling or is in danger of dropping away from a class—or even from school. The system is Starfish – a name melodious to say and echoing a famous drama set in deep space.
The workshop was listed to run almost two hours. Oh my, that’s a long time. However, a trio of savvy presenters pulled off the model workshop. The room was packed, so a lot of boring would have meant a lot of yawning. Dr. Jason Warren, dean of student affairs at HCC gave a warm and genuine overview of what Starfish can do. This was not hype or fear driven – not darkened with angst and handwringing – but Dr. Warren’s special way of making system things congenial. He didn’t drag it out, just set the stage.
Teresa Bailey backed up the enthusiasm by telling how she calls students on the edge and counsels them. Come on now, who can resist one’s sister or mom? Teresa is a perfect fit. Math professor, Sally Jackman, added in how she has already seen success with Starfish in the pilot program of it.
Then Allisha Lee, director of HCC’s Fort Campbell campus, did the hands on part. Sure, we could all have received emails about Starfish with links to tutorials and timelines, and with exhortations to familiarize ourselves with Starfish and begin using it. Delete, delete, delete—that’s what would happen.
Allisha got everyone on the same page, literally. Step by step, she guided us through logging onto Starfish and setting up the customized features that get it going for a user. When we hit a glitch, she, along with Debbie Owens and Teresa, were able to roam help the 35-40 of us smoothly.
Each of the basic tools got a short and practical demo, and the hands on step by step made all the difference, especially since the key learning points connect to tasks we will soon be doing regularly.
An hour and forty-five minutes is a long time, but it’s a lot shorter when the workshop is inspired, supported by testimonials, and guided through actual implementation scenarios. Kudos to this outstanding trio. Starfish looks like it might capture the fleet.