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Dr. Lené Whitley-Putz

Dean of Instructional Technology, Online Learning, Foothill College
Lené Whitley-Putz

I don't think I want anymore George Floyd incidents to happen. If we could prevent that, that would be amazing. But what happens is that the protests become a memory. They become part of 2020--"Oh My gosh, the summer of unrest." Or, "The summer of COVID" and then institutional changes doesn't happen. So how do we maintain that sense of passion and desire to change when things do settle down a bit? So, that's going to be the key--like can we maintain our desire for change?

Dr. Lené Whitley-Putz

Key Interview Takeaways

We are tracking the overall retention rate of students between spring, summer and fall quarters. Also, to understand the impact on students, we should be tracking whether students have enough and appropriate equipment and access to the internet. Using technology will not be perceived as an add-on skill for faculty that can be used to augment their work in their classrooms. It’s going to be a necessary part of learning how to use the classroom.

We have been trying to teach people that if they are using technology in their course, their syllabus should include a disaster plan.

We have been working on an equity plan at our campus for about a year and a half focusing on our online students and looking at the disproportionate impact for students of color in our online program. Due to COVID-19 shelter-in-place, all of the sudden, all of our students were online. The professional development we were doing to approach the pandemic just merged with the work that we were doing to understand disproportionate impact for our students. Students of color are more impacted by health disparities as well. Problems that our students are facing either personally or because of familial situations are greater than what middle class or wealthy people are being asked to face. ​


Lené Whitley-Putz is Foothill College’s Dean of Instructional Technology, Online Learning. She has been a contributing member of the Foothill College community in many capacities since 2008, early on as a communications faculty member, and then with the California Virtual Campus-Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI) as the Faculty Professional Development Coordinator for Instructional Development. In her role with the CVC-OEI, she provided training and professional development to support the effective use of digital tools and platforms for the 114 California Community Colleges. Her work with @ONE, the professional development division of CVC-OEI, contributed to @ONE becoming a nationally recognized leader in online teaching and learning.  

Before her work with @ONE, Lené taught writing and communication courses for colleges throughout Northern California, including Foothill, Cañada, CSU Monterey Bay, and UC Santa Cruz, where her interest in the intersection of writing skills and media led her to develop UCSC’s first online writing course, “Writing Disney,” an introduction to composition through the lens of race, class, and gender in the Disney corporation. Lené earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Lené is passionate about students and public education in California. She believes in pushing the envelope of technology to aid students and faculty in creating positive collaborations that help students achieve their academic goals. When Lené isn’t working on instructional technology or speaking at conferences, she can be found sewing and costuming for local high school musicals and the Half Moon Bay Coastal Repertory Theatre.