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COVID-19 precautions affect coursework for spring classes at Campbellsville University

COVID-19 precautions affect coursework for spring classes at Campbellsville University
Jeannie Clark, general manager, WLCU-TV/FM, assistant professor of broadcasting and director of broadcast services, video conferences with Briley Carter, a sophomore, to schedule Carter’s classes for the upcoming fall semester. (Campbellsville University Photo by Ariel C. Emberton)

By Matthew Taylor, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — For many professors at Campbellsville University, the sudden change to online affected the coursework they had planned for their spring classes.

Since March 16, all in-person classes were switched to online to abide to the COVID-19 precautions. Originally, classes were going to resume as normal on March 27, but Campbellsville University’s leadership team decided, for the safety of the students, faculty, staff and coaches, to keep all classes on online.

“As I used to say in the Army, ‘the flash to bang time is very short,’ and it was four days from when the university made the decision to suspend classes for two weeks to when they made the decision to make the entire semester online,” Col. William Ritter, assistant professor of public relations, said.

“Normally, I have several weeks or a month or more to develop and upload coursework for an online class. I found it challenging because it’s a lot easier to walk in and teach your class based on your notes than it is to try and remember everything you’re going to tell your students so you can record it either audio-wise or video-wise.”

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Col. William Ritter, assistant professor of public relations, works from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ritter communicates with students and manages his classes, which are fully online for the remainder of the semester. (Photo by Clarice G. Ritter)

Many professors had to simplify their coursework in the way they felt best to maintain the learning goals while ensuring that students will have the convenience of their working environment from home.

Some professors cut requirements of certain coursework, but still left them available for students to attempt without impacting their overall grade for the course. Other professors removed exams and replaced them with quizzes and more coursework.

“Some assignments like group projects are being ruled out, since we cannot meet with other students in the class,” Beau Kelley, a junior of Brownsville, Ky. double majoring in art with an emphasis in graphic design and mass communication with an emphasis in broadcasting and digital media, said.

For the students in a class where their coursework required them to perform, they were told to video themselves doing the performance and upload it to Moodle for grading.

“In essence, while the transition has not been completely smooth for everyone, I believe remaining flexible and keeping in communication with our students is key right now,” Amy Berry, instructor in environmental science, said.

In an attempt to keep the face-to-face aspect of the course, some professors have either set up Zoom meetings with students, uploaded videoed lectures on Moodle, or both.

Other professors have simply uploaded posted notes, PowerPoints and recorded lectures to provide students with the material for the course.

“A lot of the normal interactions that occurred in the classroom — or before and after class — suddenly did not exist,” Benjy Hamm, assistant professor of mass communication, said.

“So, I had to figure out how to replicate as much of that as possible online. It’s still a work in progress, but the students have responded well for the most part.”

Dr. Joe Early, professor of theology, said, “I am typically a very social professor. Since I cannot be in contact with my students on a daily basis, I have had to get creative with ways to hear from them. I do e-mail check ins, discussions forums and the occasional social media survey to increase interaction with students.”

Some professors have tried to make the best of this situation by making the online classes as creative and intriguing as possible whether it be by having a special guest join in on a Zoom meeting or adding funny and educational videos of their course topic on Moodle for students to view.

“As serious as the situation is with COVID-19, I believe that we need to keep a sense of humor and pass that along to our students,” Bill Cassell, assistant professor of criminal justice, said.

“I know that my students are stressed, and I don’t want to add to that stress, but at the same time assist them in learning the subject matter.”

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Bill Cassell, assistant professor of criminal justice, works from his home to conduct his online classes. (Photo by Madison Dial)

But, regardless of the attempt to shine the sun on this difficult time, both professors and students miss having their classes in person.

“I miss them so much. I felt like I was definitely able to learn more and faster with in-person instruction,” Whitley Howlett, a junior art major from Louisville, said.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 11,900 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.