STATESBORO — Although the past few weeks have been unexpected and a challenge for many people, Georgia Southern University faculty and staff have come together to assist each other and their students during the transition to online classes.
GS Provost Carl Reiber answered some questions about the transition and what students can expect for the remainder of this semester.
How has the transition to online classes gone so far?
“I think everybody’s being flexible, considerate, given the fact that we had to transition to online, in essence, in less than two weeks,” Reiber said. “It’s gone pretty well.”
With 5,590 courses offered this spring semester, faculty had to utilize spring break and the following week to prepare their classes to operate on their online platforms. Faculty used Folio to check in with students before classes went fully remote online to make sure students were still engaging with the classes.
“We have about 300 students who did not respond, but that correlates, not dead-on, but pretty close to the standard number of students that would drop out after spring break in any given semester, a little bit higher but not much,” Reiber said.
What resources are available for students to help with the transition to online classes?
“We always start with the faculty themselves, that’s the ultimate resource,” Reiber said, “I asked faculty to make themselves available to students through a variety of platforms.”
From Folio communication and email to texting and phone calls, faculty have been encouraged to make themselves available to students in as many ways as possible during this time.
Students with accommodations through the SARC are still able to engage with the office and ensure that they receive the accommodations they need. The SARC website can be found here.
The biggest issues that have come up during this time have been connectivity issues and access to devices, according to Reiber.
For connectivity issues, the Georgia Public Library Service has posted a map of all of the public library WiFi hotspots in Georgia, which can be found here.
The GS library services have put together a website full of resources available to students and faculty during this time, including details on how to check out laptops from the libraries that can be mailed to students for use through the end of the semester. These resources can be accessed by students on any of the three GS campuses.
How will this affect final exams?
“We’re already having discussions about the final exam windows,” Reiber said. “We’re asking faculty to be more flexible in terms of giving broader windows of time for final exams to be taken.”
The previously scheduled two-hour windows given for most final exams may cause problems for students and faculty with connectivity issues or other issues that may prevent them from participating in synchronous final exams, so discussions are underway to encourage flexibility wherever it is possible, Reiber said.
Abby Fuller, The George-Anne News Reporter, email@example.com