COVID-19 shifted the majority of courses across the California Community Colleges online. That shift has presented students, faculty and staff with numerous challenges, but Gayathri Manikandan, assistant math professor at Compton College, seized the opportunity to provide excellent online instruction and support for her students.

Manikandan teaches Elementary Statistics (Math 150), a transfer-level course and one of the most popular courses at Compton College. To help students engage with the course material, she connects abstract statistical concepts with real-world applications.

“Statistics is everywhere, whether students realize it or not,” she said. “I ask them questions such as, ‘How would you apply statistical concepts in your field?’”

During the spring term, Manikandan provided students with asynchronous opportunities in Canvas by engaging in group discussions where students would respond to their peers’ questions and collaborate to find solutions. Manikandan used TechConnect Zoom to meet with students on a weekly basis to answer questions and provide further explanation of mathematical concepts. She incorporated both NetTutor for supplemental support and Proctorio to proctor exams, tools also funded by the Chancellor’s Office and made available to colleges through California Virtual College-Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI). Additionally, Manikandan used free Open Educational Resources including OpenStax, often using videos from to help illustrate more complex statistical concepts.

Nursing associate degree students, and working mothers, Anabel Rodriguez and Windy Roden said the online course provided them with everything they needed to be successful. After withdrawing twice from the course in previous semesters, Rodriguez thrived this spring as one of the course’s top-performing students. 

“Professor Manikandan explains things really well, and there were videos that she put up that helps you understand the content better,” Rodriguez said. “This statistics course was the best online class experience I have ever had, because I had more direct contact with the professor.” 

Roden, who holds a master’s degree, returned to college in order to advance her healthcare career. She has taken several online courses throughout her undergraduate and graduate studies, citing this course as one of the best. “Professor Manikandan explains things really well, and she also used videos to help us all understand it better,” Rodriguez said.

“I really enjoyed the structure of the course,” Roden said. “We were able to make multiple attempts with our assignments and work through the problem. We even were able to contact a tutor and ask additional questions if needed.”

Manikandan gained the skills necessary to design her course by working with the Compton College Distance Education Department. The department encourages faculty to utilize the OEI Course Design Rubric and partake in a series of trainings provided by the CVC-OEI professional development group, the Online Network of Educators (@ONE)

Not only is Manikandan utilizing the CVC-OEI resources in her courses, but she is also a faculty mentor training other Compton College faculty to incorporate these best practices into their asynchronous online courses. Manikandan believes that with essential training, faculty will be able to better adapt to the shift to online instruction, meet the diverse needs of all students and provide an online experience as engaging and effective as a traditional course.

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