Cal U expertise is smoothing the way for our faculty to begin offering face-to-face classes in a distance learning format.
Faculty who teach on-campus classes are busy preparing to deliver those courses online beginning March 30 — with the full support of Cal U’s Teaching and Learning Center.
The University has adjusted its schedule for the spring semester to minimize the spread of illness as the COVID-19 outbreak evolves. While Cal U’s robust array of online classes and 100% online programs continue, face-to-face classes have been paused for two weeks as faculty prepare to deliver them from afar.
“The positive is that we are well-prepared to address this quick transition,” said C.J. DeJuliis, associate director of the Teaching and Learning Center, based in Keystone Hall.
“We trying to leverage the technologies that we already have in place — D2L Brightspace and Zoom are separate technologies that both address remote communication needs.”
On Monday, DeJuliis was working on a project to integrate Zoom, a video communication platform, with Mediasite, which can record classes sessions or lectures and help monitor student participation. The center also has developed a collection of resources to help faculty provide effective online instruction.
“We’re trying to provide … models that accommodate faculty needs,” DeJuliis said.
Dr. Mary O'Connor, a professor in the Department of Nursing, has experience teaching online. She said support from the Teaching and Learning Center will help ease the transition to online/distance learning for other faculty.
"They're there for the faculty, and if faculty aren't stressed, students won't be stressed," she said.
"We had a meeting today in the Eberly College of Science and Technology, and C.J. did a quick presentation on everything they're doing to prepare for the transition from face-to-face to online. It was terrific. They are working nonstop."
As Cal U moves toward remote operations, staff in the Teaching and Learning Center will be working off-campus to answer questions via email and reply to messages left at the center.
Faculty with experience teaching online who informally mentoring their colleagues.
“I’ve encouraged the graduate coordinators who are members of the Graduate Council to reach out to offer ideas and support,” said Dr. Yugo Ikach, dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
“We are fortunate in that we have been offering online education for a while, and many of our faculty have years of experience tthey are happy to share with their peers.”
The University delivers more than 75 online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.
Dr. Melissa Sovak, from the Department of Math, Computer Science and Information Systems, is happy to share tips from her online teaching experience.
“Many of the faculty, myself included, have been teaching a variety of classes online for many years,” Sovak said.
“Our data science programs are fully online. Given that, I’ve got an arsenal of techniques and tools to successfully implement an online course. I’ve been sharing information about software solutions with fellow faculty and am prepared to help with the creation of course items like videos, lectures, tests, quizzes and other assignments.”
It’s a changing, challenging time, Ikach said, but also a time for collaboration and innovation.
“We have adaptive, agile faculty,” he said. “The fact that we are pulling together is wonderful and encouraging. I’ve seen a lot of innovation come out of challenging times.”