The Transition Online, Part 2
Below is Part 2 of the series that explores the steps taken and the innovation required to take the TWU campus online amidst the COVID-19 crisis. View Part 1 of the series.
Many courses, many tools
“In the spring of 2020, we began with 349 face-to-face and 59 online classes,” said Dr. Christie Patti. “By March 18 all courses had moved to a remote learning environment, impacting 123 faculty, 94 staff, and 1050 students.”
But as any student, faculty or staff member can attest, no two courses are the same, and to train an entire faculty on one program or skill simply would not work.
TWU relied heavily on their already existing learning management software, SAKAI, joined by numerous other tools. Video conferencing became essential through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Big Blue Button, even individual FaceTime sessions when needed.
Streaming services such as YouTube and Microsoft Stream became the tools for lecture, and at times, asynchronous discussion. Faculty learned screen recording tools, such as Quicktime and Screen-cast-o-matic.
“I believe we were a little unique in that we had just finished Spring Break when the discussion of going remote began, while many schools in our area were heading into their Spring Break,” added Dr. Patti. “Due to the timing, some of these schools were able to add on an additional week of spring break; therefore, providing the ability to recall faculty and staff for a full week (or two) of planning and training prior to going remote. TWU took just two days.”
“Overall, I’m so proud of our faculty, staff, and students for how they made this transition,” said TWU President Dr. Harley Knowles. “While it’s impossible to avoid a few bumps, this was a daily reminder of the University’s commitment to serving each and every student. From the moment we announced the transition, everyone understood the challenge before us and stepped up, serving our students in a really amazing way.”
Professors across all disciplines had their creativity challenged during this time, having to learn how to adapt their course content and employ tools that, in many cases, cannot truly replace face-to-face instruction. Below are just a few of the many ways TWU faculty members embraced and made the most of the transition.
Dr. Martha Maddox, Business
In order to simulate interviewing in the digital age, students from South Africa, England, and the United States participated in mock interviews via Zoom for Business Communication class.
“It was a great experience and helped these students get ready for today’s work selection process.”
Ana Barrios, Spanish
Prof. Barrios used Screen-cast-o-matic to record lectures that included both PowerPoint and webcam, allowing students to see facial expression, essential for learning a foreign language.
“Teaching a foreign language requires modeling pronunciation, inflexion, intonation and other features of language. Students are able to connect with Spanish at a higher level. They can now see and hear the language.”
Dr. Hai Nguyen, Physics
With a focus on academic integrity, Dr. Nguyen utilized Zoom to share questions via his screen, as well as proctor and ensure integrity of the students while taking their exam. They were required to provide photo proof of their work before they could leave the Zoom test.
“For me as a faculty, teaching courses online is an opportunity to prove to my students that learning can happen anywhere, at any time, by any means, as long as they are ready for it. ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’"
Sandy Maddox, Business
In the area of Finance, Prof. Maddox has utilized iPad screen recording to show how to work out calculations by walking through the steps through video.
"Students have said that watching me walk through a problem using the calculator was cool.”
JJ Hulet, Communication Studies
Students in Multimedia Journalism have had to utilize unfamiliar tools to replace the traditional face-to-face interviewing and filming. Whether it was recording a Zoom call for an interview, or becoming more comfortable putting themselves on screen, students learned vital flexibility.
“When you produce content, there are always curveballs, it rarely goes exactly according to plan. This transition helped students think critically how they can still produce journalism outside what they know.”