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Faculty adjust to online courses

After extending spring break by a week, the university announced that today is the first day of online classes.

As the university made the decision to switch to online courses for the semester, faculty and staff have been working to make sure their classes will be effective for their students.

The Office of the President announced on March 12 that spring break would be extended by one week and that classes would be online starting today. During the extended spring break, some faculty members partook in Sakai training sessions to transition to conducting classes online.

Jan Frazier, an instructor of speech communication, switched to Bongo for her students to conduct their speeches for her COM 103, the oral communication process, course.

Bongo is an interactive tool that allows students to videotape themselves giving presentations, speeches and other types of oral reports so that instructors and students can give feedback.

Frazier said that on Bongo her students will have five days to upload their speeches and have another few days to watch other students’ speeches and give assessments.

“They must peer evaluate all students in the class,” Frazier said. “I think that it will be a bit of a struggle for some to learn this Bongo tool.”

For other professors, the changing to online courses will change their teaching style.

“My courses are all designed for brick-and-mortar instruction, so developing a strategy to deliver suitable content and assess performance online on short notice is the biggest challenge,” Charles Dannehl, associate professor of political science, said.

Dannehl said that although the online Sakai courses will differ in his classroom teaching style,  he believes it will be effective.

“The university has invested considerable effort in offering Sakai training and believes that it will pay off in adapting to conditions during the remainder of the semester,” Dannehl said.

Overall, both professors express that although classes will resume, the most important thing to do during this time is for everyone to take care of their health and their loved ones.

“It is what it is and we all have to be flexible during this uncertain time,” Frazier said. “I think that we are blessed to be in this age of computers and are able to teach online. Fifty years ago, none of this would have been possible.”


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