Over the past month, college campuses around the globe have had to transform their curriculum to meet the rapidly changing nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The College of Social Work (CoSW) was no exception. As students were preparing for uneventful spring breaks, faculty and staff were busy transforming their classes and rethinking field education following the announcement from President Eli Capilouto to suspend all in-person instruction through the end of the spring semester. Not long after, Capilouto made the announcement that summer courses would also be taken virtually.
To make the transition, the CoSW, like many other colleges, moved its classes online using channels such as Zoom — a video conferencing platform — as part of an effort to de-densify campus.
Faculty and teaching staff were prepped on how to use the software required to make the transition to online learning be as smooth as possible before students returned from spring break.
“Identifying supports for faculty to transition to virtual classes was important because once faculty have a sense of normalcy, then they can start to build that for our students as well,” stated Kalea Benner, Associate Dean for the CoSW.
Extended instructional design and technology support was offered by Teaching, Learning, and Academic Innovation (TLAI). The TLAI brought resources such as planning strategies, teaching tools and help with Canvas and Zoom to educators’ fingertips.
Through newly adapted Canvas and Zoom technologies, faculty and staff have been able to virtually conduct live classes, provide Ph.D. students a platform to defend their dissertations, and assign coursework with integrated grading capabilities, creating a “new normal” for everyone involved.
While the transition for faculty has been mostly positive, the modification for students seems to be one that is ever-evolving.
“None of this would be possible without the tireless work of our faculty and staff. Their commitment to ensuring the well-being of our community, academic and otherwise, is unparalleled,” Jay Miller, dean of the CoSW, said. “Moreover, I want to acknowledge the work of our students. I am genuinely in awe of the perseverance they have shown in the face of this unique time.”
The move to an online format for classroom instruction has deeply impacted the campus community. Returning to classes, although they may be online, provides students with a sense of normalcy, creating a platform for students to connect with their peers, faculty members, and campus.
The Learn Anywhere website has been created to further help students with the move. The website features online course tips, academic support, and virtual wellness resources, among other things. The CoSW’s website has also been a source of information for students – providing a calendar of virtual events such as drop-in advising, meet and greets with program directors, and more.
With students at the core of all decisions made at the CoSW, the effort to move coursework online is about creating the opportunity for instruction while also ensuring that students can complete the semester while adjusting to the “new normal.” In pursuit of that objective, especially during times of crisis, the entire CoSW community has been flexible and adapted to the challenge.
Although this is an unprecedented time for the world, CoSW proves to be resilient and up for the challenge because social work was built for this.
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