‘Carry on with class’: Professors rely on technology to prep for all-online teaching

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Keeping the semester going, even without the classroom. That’s the reality for teachers and professors at universities across the country right now.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, spring break has been extended an extra week until Friday, March 20. When students return to campus on March 23, they’ll be learning remotely until further notice.

Dr. Jeffrey Wilson, an associate professor of higher education at VCU, was in his office Thursday reworking lesson plans and communicating with students.

“I’m hoping that the email I sent to them will kinda put them at ease as to what’s next,” Wilson said.

With the university’s decision to push all classes online, this teacher says he’ll use computer programs like “Blackboard” and “Zoom,” allowing for video-attendance, instead.

“I’m gonna send out a link and we’re gonna just log into our computers and we’re gonna be able to kinda see each other in a virtual format and just carry on with class,” Wilson explained.

But he’s not new to this. Wilson says he was one of the first to volunteer teaching classes online more than a decade ago.

“Ever since 2008 I’ve been teaching an online course every semester,” he told 8News. “So, that was kinda like my aha moment that online courses, online teaching isn’t so bad.”

Wilson is also a teacher of teachers and is looking at this change of plans as a teachable moment.

“This is one of those moments when you see how people are responding to change,” Wilson said. “Are you gonna embrace it or are you gonna get nervous?”

As of now, it’s unclear if Dr. Wilson will see his students again face-to-face this semester. But he says the learning won’t stop.

“That’s what technology has allowed us to do. Its allowed us to continue with the semester just in a different format,” Wilson said.

These changes also don’t come without challenges. Dr. Wilson says universities must be mindful of access: Access to internet, reliable computers, and how to make remote learning a reality for students with disabilities like vision impairment and hearing loss, as well.

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