April 14th, 2020
GC students adapt to online education
Challenges conquered, silver linings emerge in mid-semester shift
Garrett College students are exhibiting adaptability, resourcefulness – and gratitude – during the College's pandemic-influenced shift to all-online classes.
"My instructors have been extremely understanding and empathetic with what's happening in the world right now," said Liberty Cheshire, a psychology major who plans to transfer to Frostburg State University. "The spring break extension [from one to two weeks as the coronavirus hit] was such a great idea for students to make the transition from on-campus classes to, unexpectedly, online. The college was very successful in quickly adapting to the state regulations that needed to be followed."
"The College has done a wonderful job transitioning to all-online classes," said Allison Ruff, who also plans to transfer to FSU and study psychology. "If I had any questions, the College or the professors answered them fairly quickly."
Laura Weinberger, who has already earned a bachelor's degree and will be enrolling in FSU's Master's of Science in Psychology program in the fall, also said the extended spring break made the transition easier for everyone.
"The extra week of break after spring break was helpful for both the professors and students," said Weinberger, who has a bachelor's degree, a teaching background and will be enrolling in FSU's Master of Science program in Psychology in the fall. "We received emails asking students what technology we had or didn't have, and how GC could better support us. The communication has been excellent, and I don't think there is anything that could have been done better on the college's part."
"The staff have remained positive, adaptable, and available, which I believe has played a significant role in easing into the new process," said Lora Teets, who plans to transfer to either FSU or West Virginia University. "I believe the smooth transition speaks volumes as to the resiliency of the College and the quality of the leadership skills the staff possess."
That's not to say the transition has been without its challenges, particularly in courses with lab components.
"The most difficult thing about moving to all-online classes is my Microbiology class and my Research Methods class," said Ruff. "Microbiology classes, for me, are more of a hands-on class than others. Mrs. Tichnel did a great job of transferring labs and lectures online for the class. She did over-voices for the lecture part of the class, which is great!
"For my Research Methods class, before going to all-online classes, we were going to be in the classroom with the students while they took a survey," continued Ruff. "Someone in the class recommended Google Docs for our surveys. I think the Google survey was a really cool thing for us to do and still get the credit for the project – and thanks to the professors that let me use their students as my results for my survey!"
The move to all-online education has created some unanticipated challenges.
"One difficult thing has been the change in course schedules and the workload. The routine is new because classes have adjusted the work requirements to make up for missed time," said Weinberger. "Getting back into the school groove – but into a new groove – is a challenge. Also, not having the face-to-face time with the professors means communicating small misunderstandings through email rather than just asking a question in class."
Some students said the coronavirus has impacted their lives more outside the classroom than inside of it.
"My work with the United States Air Force has been postponed until further notice, so I'm currently not working," said Teets. "Being that my mother is considered essential and is still working, I've had her foster/adopted children with me since school was released.
"Trying to help my daughter and my mom's children with their schoolwork, in addition to my own, has been challenging," added Teets. "Also, as a volunteer firefighter, the coronavirus has created a need for additional consideration, scene awareness, and safety measures when responding to calls."
"I do miss my friends and being able to see some of my friends that I have made at college," said Cheshire. "I still have to go to work because I'm considered essential, but I'm either staying at home or going to work. I'm getting a bit of cabin fever!"
Weinberger said she's seen some positive changes in her life from the way she's had to adapt to the pandemic.
"I am a Registered Behavior Technician and I work in the home of a little boy with autism," said Weinberger. "Due to him being out of school, and my classes being online, I now can work with him on a longer, more regular basis. He is making incredible improvements in so many of his skills.
"Life has slowed down a lot," added Weinberger. "There are less distractions, and it seems easier to focus on the really important things."
The most up-to-date information on Garrett College's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), can be found online at COVID-19.