A little over a week ago, an email from VSU was sent out stating that the university would remain open and classes would continue to meet as scheduled. Additionally, wishes of safe travels over spring break and sentiments of finishing the semester strong were conveyed.
Fast forward to now, the remainder of the semester is to be finished online, as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the nation and the world.
With the global health crisis only recently affecting those in Valdosta and the VSU community, it is presenting new challenges for faculty and staff in making the transition to teach exclusively online.
For Dr. Kendric Coleman, a professor of English and African American Studies, the change isn’t too stressful given that he has taught online classes before and that he teaches material in which hands-on learning is not required. With that being said, he still has a few concerns regarding the transition as a whole.
“Really my biggest concern is the kind of disruption that some students will face. Not every student has access to a computer, which will make online learning more difficult” he said.
Coleman also expressed that the challenges aren’t only limited to students, saying that the online transition will be the biggest challenge for those who have never taught online.
In contrast to Coleman, faculty in other departments such as Mass Media professor Tywanna Pryor are experiencing a more challenging transition period.
“Given the nature of production courses that I teach, which are a lot more hands-on since we’re making media projects, the transition is incredibly difficult. I started working on it last week, that way I’d give myself enough time to figure everything out” she said.
Pryor additionally noted that, once again, not every student having a laptop is a challenge in planning for the rest of the semester, especially for Mass Media majors. She noted that she has collaborated with the other Mass Media professors, who are looking into apps that will ease online learning such as Socrative.
Fortunately, in these unprecedented times, VSU’s technology infrastructure, ranging from the Center for eLearning, to the New Media Center, to Information Technology have been all-hands on deck in assisting students and faculty during the transition.
According to Dr. Jamie Landau, Director at the Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, VSU technology has taken several steps to ensure a smooth transition to online learning.
“We have renewed licenses to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and we have also received free licenses for additional online tools that will help students and faculty. We’ve also enrolled all students in a Blazeview course called VSU Blazeview Student Tutorial, which teaches students how to learn and navigate online” she said.
Landau also mentioned there is a similar version for faculty called “Blazeview 101,” which features a tool called “Ask the Expert,” where teachers who are experts in online teaching can share tips and problem solve with each other.
Landau added that VSU’s technology is thriving and leading the way, even during challenging times.
Written by Grant Palmer, Staff Writer. Photo Courtesy of The Spectator.