Faculty members spent the week of March 16 transitioning their in-person courses to an online format in preparation for the move to e-learning.
The Modified Course Delivery subcommittee of the Crisis Intervention and Response Team was responsible for determining how courses would be delivered after in-person classes were suspended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Faculty members must follow a set of guidelines for their e-learning plans. For example, classes must be asynchronous; they should not include required live lectures during class time.
“Frankly, online classes are really different from in-person classes, so having to switch them really quickly is pretty challenging,” said John O’Keefe, the chair of the Department of English.
Deans, associate deans, department heads and professors have been getting support during this transition from the Teaching and Learning Center.
“I'm happy to represent a team of people that includes our instructional designers, our exam developers, program managers, and our e-learning media designer,” said Debbie Ford, associate vice provost for the Teaching and Learning Center, in a video distributed by the Office of the President.
The center’s website has a collection of resources for teachers who must redesign their courses on short notice. They have a team to assist in transitioning courses, as well as digital guides for using BlueLine, BlueCast, Zoom and more.
“We’re ready to go to help you,” Ford said.
Dean Anthony Hendrickson of the Heider College of Business said that the associate deans were largely leading the college’s response to the suspension of classes, led by Deborah Wells, associate dean for faculty and academics.
He said the department chairs were monitoring the progress of the transition, and professors who had taught online previously were available for help.
“Our faculty experts have offered to present best practices during the BlueLine seminars, as well as serve as mentors and advisers to their colleagues who have specific how-to questions,” Hendrickson said.
O’Keefe has taught online courses before, but he said the time element is what makes this transition difficult.
“In online teaching, you usually have to spend months ahead of time doing it, getting it ready. We don’t have time to do that,” O’Keefe said.
He said he is going to record short lectures and use them as a stimulus for discussion posts to BlueLine.
“I think everybody just needs to be patient because this is a pretty big disruption,” O’Keefe said. “But it's happening everywhere. Almost every college in the country is going through the same thing at the same time.”
In the Heider College of Business, the two major practicum courses offered are affected by the move to e-learning.
“We are making resources available for the Portfolio Practicum students, and the iJay Practicum will be modified to a different format to preserve the educational value it offers,” Hendrickson said.
He recommends that students for any course should try to follow their regular class schedules.
“Students should be disciplined to spread out the online work throughout the week so they are not trying to complete too much of it in a compressed format and adding to stress they might already feel,” Hendrickson said.
O’Keefe warned that sometimes it’s easy to forget about assignments for someone who hasn’t taken an online class before. “It is out of sight, out of mind,” he said.
“It’s going to require a lot of faculty to get it together, but it’s also going to require something of students too.”