A receptionist, two information technology specialists and an administrator once staffed Room 317 on the third floor of the Russell Building, but now Ellen Hendrix is the only person remaining.
Hendrix is currently working all four positions but was only hired as the information technology specialist. Hendrix said, “They’re getting a four for one deal with me, but I’m not getting their salaries.”
Hendrix was once a fifth grade science teacher at Durant Intermediate School, where she taught for 15 out of her 19 years as a teacher. Hendrix said, “Teaching is in my blood” and she has always had a passion for working with people and technology.
Hendrix, a Durant native, received her master’s in education at SE, giving her the desire to return to SE in 2000, but this time SE would be signing the check.
Hendrix wanted to expand her knowledge of technology, teaching and helping others integrate technology in the classroom, and was hired in 2000 as the information technology specialist. Hendrix’s main assignment was to help with the “Strengthening Institution Grant.”
After a year this grant turned into the development and evolution of Blackboard Online Learning at SE.
Hendrix said that before Blackboard, SE had a license with an online learning company called Web CT but never developed any classes to use it with. Hendrix said after she was hired she became a “master in learning Blackboard” and currently is the only Blackboard system administrator for users at SE.
She said she feels her position at SE is very rewarding because she loves working with people, technology and problem solving. Additionally she still gets to teach and work with faculty and students. Hendrix said, “It’s a win-win situation.”
She starts her day by checking emails and voicemails from faculty and students, about questions that they have encountered with Blackboard. Hendrix said, “it may be six or seven at night, but I call everyone back.”
Hendrix said along with problem solving via phone and email, she also assists walk-ins. She said students and faculty are always welcome to stop by her office or make an appointment for a one-on-one tutorial over Blackboard.
Hendrix said that primarily she works with faculty and adjunct professors. She said she does everything from enrolling the students into the online courses, to hosting workshops in her office to teach new intuitive ways to use online learning.
Hendrix said she creates and sets up on Blackboard about 500 total courses per semester, including face-to-face and online courses.
Hendrix said, although her main duties involve assisting faculty and adjuncts, students are still her passion. Hendrix said she helps student organizations create Blackboard courses to make sharing information easier.
Hendrix said the Student Government Association particularly uses her help when creating online ballots to elect new officers. Hendrix said she has created about 50 online courses for SGA.
Demetra Wilkerson, president of SGA, said the Blackboard course helps immensely when it comes to voting for elections. Wilkerson said it gives SGA a chance to hear who people want elected. Even if the student doesn’t live on campus, Wilkerson said, “they still have a vote and we always want to hear it.”
When Hendrix is not in her office, she said she is tending her committees. Hendrix is currently on the Distance Education Council, Higher Learning Sub Committee, Harvard Professional Development Program and Faculty Staff Awards Committee.
Hendrix said her most recent role to learn in the office has been that of a secretary. Hendrix said the secretary left in 2012, leaving no one but herself to feel the position.
Hendrix said she now has to make time to fill out monthly invoices, order supplies and other secretarial duties. She said, “They don’t make me clean the floors though.”
Hendrix said that faculty and students have been very supportive, “knowing that there’s only one of me to spread around for everyone.” Hendrix said she takes technical issues that arise seriously and will continue to work hard to get them fixed immediately.
Hendrix said a proposal has been made to fill the positions in the office, but currently no final decision has been made to advertise for the available positions. Hendrix said, “I do feel guilty because there’s not more support for the students and there’s only one of me and I can only do so much.”