CSN Libraries’ Stephanie Espinoza, was recently selected by CSN’s Internal Recognition Committee as the recipient of the 2017 “Excellence in Online Teaching” award for demonstrating outstanding contributions to the College.
Stephanie was an online student herself during graduate school and understands the importance of human connection in persisting in online courses. “As an online student you can feel very disconnected from everyone else. You might be working on assignments alone in your room trying to figure out how to cite a source and unsure where to turn for answers—you can’t just walk up to your classmates and ask. But if you know there’s a friendly online librarian in the class just for you, who will respond quickly and never make you feel like you can’t do it, suddenly you’ve made a connection. You have someone to come back to when you need help again. You feel like you really can do it.”
As CSN’s first Elearning librarian, Stephanie extended virtual reference help hours and created an embedded librarian program where she collaborates with faculty across the College teaching research, citation and information literacy skills in their Canvas courses. Stephanie’s work with online learners earned her scholarships to leadership institutes and national conferences. She was elected to a leader role in the American Library Association’s Distance Learning Section, was named the Association of College and Research Libraries “Member of the Week,” and has presented at state and national conferences.
As an advocate for online students, Stephanie’s teaching philosophy is simple: “Teach with patience, empathy, encouragement, and an understanding that every question is valid. No one should ever feel bad asking for help. That’s how we learn. In an online environment especially, it can be harder to get information across. There’s usually more text than visuals. You can’t hold objects in your hands. If there’s something you don’t quite get, I’m happy to explain again and even try different technology tools to make sure the meaning comes across. That’s my job—to help you learn.”