Mountains may not have been moved, but the task was almost as large — closing a college campus, taking in-person classes and turning them in to online courses, some taught by professors who had no experience in online instruction.
“The people at our college are just amazing,” Susan Guzman-Trevino, TC vice president of academic affairs, said. “We are so proud of our faculty and staff and everyone who have come together to deal with this situation.”
Guzman-Trevino wanted the board of trustees to see how the TC faculty and staff have dealt with some of the issues that came along once it was decided to take courses online.
The TC leadership team began planning the college’s COVID-19 response before spring break.
The possibility of remote instruction and student support was part of the discussion involving faculty and staff technological needs, Guzman-Trevino said.
“Everything was considered,” she said. “If students were still coming to campus, who would be cleaning and sanitizing each room and lab between classes?”
Guzman-Trevino said even as the discussions were taking place she never dreamed that it would get to the point that the college would be working remotely.
Everything changed during spring break, with numerous calls among the leadership teams and the school district partners, she said.
“We sent out a faculty survey mid-week to find out what the computer and internet needs were,” Guzman-Trevino said. “By the end of the week. the decision was made to extend spring break by a week to give faculty and staff a week to move everything online.”
Faculty and staff returned to TC where there were planning meetings with department heads on how to convert face-to-face courses to online instruction, she said. Some of the faculty had never taught online.
The IT team and Finance Director Brandon Bozon’s staff began issuing laptops to students, faculty and staff who needed one. At the same time, work continued on the fall schedule.
The faculty was not alone in being nervous about teaching online, students were apprehensive as well, Guzman-Trevino said.
Sending positive messaging to the students was necessary to ease their concern.
At the same time, guidelines were coming in from the state higher education coordinating board and the accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, she said.
TC looked to information from Achieving the Dream, Pathway coaches and other colleges on suggestions how to successfully begin teaching courses online.
“We focused on best practices, including faculty mentoring to help each other along,” Guzman-Trevino said. “It was amazing to watch everybody pulling together to help each other and having the unified feeling that we had to be here for each other and our students.”
One English instructor asked students to write poems about the coronavirus or select a poem that dealt with a similar situation.
Guzman Trevino included two examples in her presentation.
One student, a fan of the series “The Office,” wrote “The Plague,” in which the author blames Dwight for the disease. The poem ended on a positive note because the poem’s author thought people were exaggerating issues related to the coronavirus.
“It’s one thing to take precautions, but there’s no need to be extreme,” the student wrote.
Classes were focusing assignments on situations the students were experiencing.
“A lot of the discussion board assignments were letting students talk about what they had been going through,” Guzman-Trevino said.
An economics professor learned how record herself, using unfamiliar tools, completing an economics problem for her students. College algebra classes are now on YouTube.
A Temple bioscience professor put together videos for her TBI, biology and genetics students on different concepts.
“In D2L she can track who is watching the videos and the amount of time the students are using to watch the videos,” Guzman-Trevino said.
A couple of policies have been changed to reflect the shift in instruction. Students have an additional 30 days to have an incomplete changed to a grade.
The school is considering pass-fail options in grading for the spring semester, she said.