Professors figure out how to change their curriculum in order to create the best learning environment for students.
Azusa Pacific began conducting online classes on March 16 amid growing concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since the announcement was made on March 12, students and faculty have discussed how the change has affected the different departments and classes.
“These decisions are made based on internal and external decisions such as the World Health Organization, the CDC and the decisions put forward by the government,” said Denise Edwards-Neff, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “There is a lot of communication internally and externally and a lot of monitoring of breaking news.”
According to Edwards-Neff, the biggest concern is that professors are still able to meet their targeted learning outcomes, as well as the program’s goals.
Students also shared their views on the change.
“Three of the hospitals have said that they are not welcoming nursing students,” said Sinead Jones, a sophomore nursing major. “Normally, to make up a clinical you would just go to the skills lab and put in eight hours of work, but when it comes down to half the cohort that has to make up those hours, it doesn’t work.”
Jones said her heart goes out to the professors who are trying to figure out how students can make up the hands-on experience they would normally get in a classroom.
“Labs, practicums, internships and service-learning have been made in a case-by-case manner and have taken into consideration the latest development,” said Edwards-Neff. “Those decisions have been arrived at by a lot of communication and have been rather fluid. In the case of physics and biology and chemistry labs, the decision has been made to move those online.”
Some sense of normalcy is kept with classes that are lecture-based. According to junior business major Austin Walkup, business classes are mostly lectures, so they are just switching platforms. However, he said tests are changing as some professors are adding more papers.
David Weeks, dean of the Honors College, said he has full faith that students are resourceful and indomitable and good things will be happening.
“Community and conversation are at the heart of the Honors College. Switching to an online format in the middle of the semester is disruptive,” Weeks said. “Nonetheless, we all have a shared civic responsibility to do our part to help curb the spread of COVID-19. We will soldier on and recreate, to the best of our ability, an online approach with student learning as our top priority.”
The concern here is if the technology itself will hold out. Walkup said that some of the Wifi has been struggling already.
“Every day looks different. We are supporting the technology needs of faculty and students. Students who are still on campus are able to access their classes through the computers in libraries or headphones,” Edwards-Neff said.
Edwards-Neff said the provost and dean have pledged to help students in any way possible.
Technology is also able to keep everybody together. Edwards-Neff said the loss of structure is hard and suggested students make sure to stay connected with family and friends virtually since social distancing is not the same as isolation.
“Social distancing doesn’t mean go hide in the dark,” Walkup said. “There is a fine line between partying and being by yourself and what social distancing should be.”
Jones said this is a time where a lot of people are going to feel isolated regardless of if people see others. She said it is important to find ways to reach out and to keep yourself sane.
“A positive is that it is giving us a chance to social distance while we have a very minuscule chance of giving it to others. We don’t know who is commuting or has a sick friend or family member. It helps us to ensure the safety of others,” said Walkup.
Jones said this can be really discouraging but she finds encouragement in being part of a community of faith.