Embracing the disruption caused by COVID-19
Embracing the disruption caused by COVID-19
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When Ohio State announced its plan to transition to online-only classes in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, accounting students at Fisher were caught off-guard.
“I had already attended my last in-person undergraduate class, studied in Mason Hall for the last time, had my final student org meeting and so much more, without even knowing it,” said accounting student Krystal Nava.
That realization also had an impact on Assistant Professor Patrick Kielty, whose teaching duties are geared toward fourth-year accounting students.
“I can only imagine how hard it was to have their senior year experience taken away so quickly,” he said.
While difficult, shifting to online delivery was a step that many in the student community saw as necessary to ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone at the university and beyond.
“I really enjoy going to class on a daily basis, but I’m sure the university has saved a considerable number of lives this way,” accounting student Richard McEwan said. “That is much more important than having my favorite method of class delivery.”
Faculty members, although initially nervous about transitioning to classes delivered via Zoom teleconferencing, have experienced a great deal of success so far.
“I had never even heard of Zoom before COVID-19, but it has been amazing,” Senior Lecturer Laura Feustel said. “I have been able to utilize it to pre-record lectures, hold one-on-one meetings with students and do office hours during our normal class time.”
Students and faculty agreed that the ability to re-watch pre-recorded lectures online is an advantage over in-person instruction.
“I always have the opportunity to pause if I need more time to write down the notes or rewind to hear an explanation again,” Nava said.
“The courses I teach this term are very technical and complex,” said Feustel. “I have received a lot of positive feedback from students about being able to re-watch the lectures – it is something I may use in the future as a supplement to the live class.”
During the stay-at-home order, students have had to navigate unforeseen academic challenges, such as completing group projects virtually.
“The first week of online delivery, my BUSMHR 4490 group had to do a presentation,” Nava said. “Working with five other students spread throughout the country and recording ourselves speaking over the PowerPoint wasn’t how I envisioned the project, but we collaborated through GroupMe and Zoom to ultimately deliver a successful presentation.”
Online teaching and learning can also be a big routine disruption. Students and faculty have mitigated this issue by creating new routines at home.
“Making a schedule and sticking to it has been a huge help,” Kielty said. “I try to keep my days as ‘normal’ as possible.”
McEwan created a designated workspace in order to stay productive at home.
“I have a lot of pets at home and a couple of siblings, so distractions are plentiful,” he said. “The first thing I did when classes moved online was make a little office with an extra desk in my attic, and that’s where I do all of my schoolwork now, mostly distraction-free.”
Nava has also created a structured routine: “Although I don’t have to wake up early for class anymore, I still set an alarm, eat breakfast, try to get some exercise in, and do anything else I normally do before attending class.”
Adopting a positive attitude, while difficult, is also critical to success during this period of uncertainty.
“I have absolutely no control in this situation,” Feustel admitted. “I have totally embraced this fact and am focused on tackling each day as it comes. My family is healthy and safe and it has been refreshing to reset and remember what a privilege it is to be living this life in spite of the challenges.”
Kielty has used the time at home to reflect.
“I really miss my coworkers, but I’ve tried to keep a positive mindset and practice gratitude daily,” he said. “I am very fortunate to still have a job that I love to do.”
How are instructors imparting this positivity to others?
“This may seem small, but I made a change to my emails,” said Senior Lecturer Mike Easterday. “I changed my closing from ‘Best’ to ‘Keep well,’ for truly this is my most sincere wish for my students and anyone I interact with.”
Easterday believes the transition to online courses, while temporary, will be beneficial for the university.
“I hope all members of academia develop a broadened familiarity and comfort with virtual delivery,” he said. “A combination of both live and virtual deliveries could be a great path forward in education. If we can all work together to leverage the advantages in both forms, we can create a model for learning that will be successful further into the 21st century.”
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I really enjoy going to class on a daily basis, but I’m sure the university has saved a considerable number of lives this way.
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