Behind the Scenes: Meet the Dynamic Tech Duo

Tara Harding and Hue Wang provide invaluable technical support to the Global Executive Ed.D. program through their work on the Learning Management System. The program faculty and staff are deeply grateful for their competence, dedication, kindness, and humor.

On March 30, 2017, Tara and Hue shared their thoughts on working with the Global Ed.D. program with student assistant, Elizabeth Sandman.

Elizabeth: Thank you very much speaking with me. We appreciate all that you do for the program and are hoping our students will get to know you. Can you tell us about the Learning Management System (LMS) and the work that you do?

Hue: Sure. We’re glad to talk. The Learning Management System contains assignments, lectures, videos– anything that is on a course syllabus. Tara and I take course content provided by faculty members and translate it into online platforms.  

Tara: In addition, if faculty members need software to accomplish something that they want to do, for example, add a game into an Adobe Connect session or come up with a technological solution to a problem, Hue and I will help them do that. Hue also provides technological training to faculty members.

Elizabeth: How are you involved with the Global Executive Ed.D. program?

Hue: I eat their food! No really, the Global Ed.D. program is one of our longest running programs. They were among the first programs to start an Instructional Technology Department, so we’ve had a long history working with them. Rob Filback, Mark Robison, and Cathy Krop worked closely with us in developing a system of collaboration.

Elizabeth: Do you work directly with students? How might they encounter you?

Tara: Our primary responsibilities are to faculty members. We also work with the department itself to schedule due dates, post course materials online, and ensure accessibility. We meet with the program staff regularly. The SC platform has a student support center, which answers questions and addresses challenges. Global Ed.D. students are most likely to encounter us when Hue records interviews with them, to be shared with faculty. Hue, could you expand on that?

Hue: We found that students were constantly having to introduce themselves to faculty, so to increase familiarity and reduce redundancy, we decided to record introductory interviews with students, which include biographical information and fun facts.

Tara: We also see them when we’re eating at the in-person sessions!

Elizabeth: What are some of the best parts of working with the Global Ed.D. Program?

Hue: The faculty and program staff of the Global program are outstanding people. We’ve enjoyed everyone, from Nadine (former director), to Sabrina, to Robyn. Everyone. They’ve all been great. They’ve also selected great student workers!

The program itself is also outstanding. For example, to try to get to know the program better, I asked to go on one of their field trips. I went with them to Skid Row and to Homeboy Bakery. I recorded B-roll footage and got to know students and observe their experience. I learned a lot and was grateful to be part of the outing.

Tara: I agree with Hue. Something I would add about the Global Ed.D. faculty and staff is that they are always trying to better the program. They are always evaluating and processing, making little tweaks. Even minor changes, such as ensuring that they use words like “local time” to increase accessibility and sensitivity to the variety of places and backgrounds that students come from. So often, we think of time and experience as it is here in the United States. The program faculty and staff are mindful of global perspectives and differences in ways of describing and documenting orientations to time, place, and person. For example, they are careful about clarifying the way that the day/month/year is written, as this differs across the world. They are always looking for ways to remove barriers, make the program more accessible, streamline processes, and support students.  .

Elizabeth: That is great to hear. What are some of the challenges?

Tara: Being global is a challenge, as far as internet connections and technological barriers. Internationally, not everyone has the same connections and speeds, and students can get frustrated. There is only so much we can do from here; we can’t control the infrastructure of another country. It has been remarkable to watch program staff try to address these issues. Sometimes Hue will be on two phones, trying to get students connected!

Elizabeth: Aside from internet issues, are students able to understand and navigate the LMS?

Tara: We have not heard that there have been any major issues. There is a great support staff, and we try to make it intuitive. There is a student support button that people can click for immediate assistance. We do our best to provide support and make it easy to understand.

Elizabeth: That’s very important, thank you. Do you have any advice for students entering the program?

Hue: My advice would be to read the material on the LMS. Faculty put it there for a reason and consider it important. In addition, be careful about managing your time, and use the in-person sessions wisely.

From what I have heard from students, the strongest benefit to being in the Global program is the cohort. There are so many different perspectives, which builds a rich experience. It is a privilege for us to be able to facilitate that.

Tara: I agree. We hear, over and over, the value of the community that forms through the cohort. In the program, and beyond, the network is incredible. The faculty are outstanding. I think that given that we are part of USC, we sometimes take it as a given that the faculty are extraordinary. We may not iterate that as much as we should.

Elizabeth: Definitely, thank you for highlighting that. Last question: Spirit animal, and why?

Hue: Giraffe. Not telling you why.

Elizabeth: You have to tell us why!

Hue: I just like them. They’re graceful and long-necked…Come back to me in a second!

Tara: That’s a crazy question! You know, I’d have to say something adventurous. I want to say monkey, because I recently was at a place where there were monkeys, and they were just bouncing all over the place. I’m going with monkey.

Elizabeth: Love it! Hue, anymore thoughts on giraffes?

Hue: You know, I’m not sure that I’m a giraffe…

Tara: What eats a lot?

Hue: Goats! I think I might be a goat…(does goat impression).

Tara: There’s got to be an app for this…

Elizabeth: Agreed. Any final thoughts on the Global program and your work?

Hue: I think the program staff have got the Global program down to a science. It just keeps getting better.

Tara: One last piece of advice: Before you start the program, work with student support services to learn how the LMS and technological elements work. Taking care of technological issues first can help you have a great experience.

Hue: It is also good to have a domestic phone number if you are an international student. It can make things much easier.

Elizabeth: Great! Thank you very much for sharing your insights and for all the support that you provide to the Global Ed.D. program. 

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