By Margot Voisinet
Niagara County Community College (NCCC) is one that has changed quite a lot in the past 25 years. There are just as many similarities as there are differences when you walk around. The curriculum is different, teaching styles, the building itself has even changed. Obviously with the virus that struck three years ago, there has been a drastic shift in the environment and things have gotten easier and harder with time. So, with that comes different teaching styles, different teachers, and a different environment.
The building itself has been here since 1962, so it is obvious there would be some changes, however some might be more noticeable than others. One of the more noteworthy developments would be our Learning Commons, which has only been here for about 5 years. This is the focal point of our college and is used as the main entrance into the college. It was created as an add-on to our library known as the Henrietta G. Lewis Library.
About five years ago, the college put up 25 million dollars to build a brand-new learning common which has become the focal point of whole building. There have been many opinions, most people find it very useful and enjoy seeing the community come together and study and converse. Mark Voisinet, a professor here at the college, “We could have spent 20 million dollars on classroom stuff instead of a big student living room”. But there have been differing opinions about where people think it helps more than it hurts. Before the learning commons, students would go to study in the upstairs cafeteria and Professor Voisinet says “All we did was take existing services that were already on our campus, built a 20 million dollar living room and put the services there.” While this is only one man’s opinion, there are still many benefits that come with this renovation: new main entrance, a place to study that is connected to the library, and more.
However, change is always happening, and one of the bigger revolutions that we have all had to go through, is the virus. With Covid-19 came a drastic shift in the world. Everything stopped including school which eventually picked up online. However, this drummed up a lot of unknown gadgets from the internet that all teachers and professors needed to learn how to use. There were so many different ways for professors to teach online: Zoom, Google Meets, Google Classroom, Blackboard, Brightspace. Bridget Beilein, the language arts professor at NCCC, mentioned this. The use of technology was needed to keep things running somewhat smoothly.
With all this change, there is one thing that is completely consistent, the underappreciated teachers that do so much for so little. Bridget Beilein, the language arts professor here, has said this when asked about the changes throughout the past ten years:
“Though it has been ten years what hasn’t changed, is that educators are still undervalued. That is something that has been consistent. Though inflation and the world has changed, our salaries and our expectations for teachers have not and we’re very undervalued and that’s something that really grinds my gears. Because we should be held to a higher esteem when we are trying to educate and improve our community”
A very important statement from her and it sums up the life of teachers all over the country. Especially with Covid-19, they had to change their methods at the drop of a hat to accommodate the new times. When asked about the shift in teaching and curriculum after Covid, Professor Voisinet offered this, “There are more hybrid and online classes offered, and the why is because throughout the pandemic, faculty was forced to learn how to teach online.” These classes make it easier for students to be in college as well, depending on if they need to work more, have a family or maybe just learn better that specific way. When asked what the biggest change has been over the past ten years, Beilein and Voisinet were synonymous in their answer of technology.
Within all this change, there have been quite a few benefits, now teachers and professors are well-versed in any way of teaching, whether it be in-person, hi-flex, hybrid, or completely asynchronous. The years have been good, despite everything and technology is something that is ever-changing and evolving. It gives opportunities to find new ways of teaching that reach more than just a classroom full of students.