By Sam Bailey / Staff Writer
The last few weeks at Hutchinson Community College have been full of changes and adjustments for students and instructors alike.
On Sunday, March 15, HutchCC alerted students that spring break began the next morning and face-to-face classes were suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next morning, dorm students were notified to leave the dorms by the end of the week, completely clear out their rooms and return home for the year.
On March 30, classes started transitioning to an online format, and students began taking their regular classes through Learning Zone.
These changes threw students into a situation they were not prepared for, and instructors were left with the responsibility to rewrite their curriculum to accommodate an online format completely.
Some classes did not transition easily.
HutchCC chemistry professor Erin Beavers had to find a way for students to conduct labs online, but some cannot be done at home.
“Chemistry is not a class that lends itself well to an online format, so it has been a challenge,” Beavers said.
“A few labs I had to let go, because they do not lend themselves to being done online or watching them in a video format,” Beavers said.
However, she found ways for students to still experience the lab as much as possible from home.
“For other (labs), I recorded myself doing the labs and provided the measurements, data, observations, so students could then complete the remainder of the labs from home,” Beavers said.
English professor Kelly Clasen also ran into challenges while transitioning online.
“One of the biggest challenges associated with teaching entirely online has to do with the time it takes to ensure course material is being delivered well. For example, whereas I might have spent a single, fun class period brainstorming narrow, unique research topics with my Comp 2 classes this semester, I instead spent all week commenting on discussion board posts and making suggestions to individual students,” Clasen said.
Through all of the challenges of transitioning online, instructors have done their best to keep students involved in the learning process and successful for the remainder of the semester.
“I found myself sending out quite a few nagging emails last week, reminding individual students that classes had ‘resumed’ and asking them to start participating online,” Clasen said.
Beavers said students appear to be doing a good job keeping up with classes.
“So far, the majority of my students have really been on top of things – I have been impressed,” Beavers said.
With students and instructors learning how to navigate the struggles involved with switching to an online format, Clasen gave students who may feel overwhelmed with the situation some words of advice.
“If students are struggling to stay focused on coursework due to anxiety about COVID-19, I encourage them to log out of social media and put their phones away for several hours at a time,” Clasen said. “The best thing HutchCC students can do right now is stay home, if they can, and do their work.”