We are all #OneWSU


I teach two 100% online graduate WSU Global Campus courses this semester that are both part of the Murrow College Online MA Strategic Communication Program. Yesterday afternoon I sat down to craft notes to the 40 students.

True, they are used to taking classes 100% online so the announcement from WSU saying all in-person classes were being moved to virtual delivery was not one that phased them much. But what we must not forget, is they, too, are bombarded by the news, emails, and social posts. They, too, have kids in schools, jobs that might now be in flux, travel plans that are now canceled, and elderly parents who are at-risk.

Some of these individuals live in Bremerton, Seattle, Spokane, Duvall, Vancouver, and Pullman. Others live in Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Milwaukee, Montana, and Kansas City. And let’s not forget the ones in Bermuda, Stockholm, and Canada.

They are Global Cougs – ambassadors to Coug Nation and passionate about their alma mater.

For those of you teaching Global Campus courses, I encourage you to modify your next weekly announcement to acknowledge what is happening around #COVID19 and recognize the impact it has on our distance learners. A few thoughts:

  • Be real with them. You are human. They are human. We are all impacted by coronavirus even if we or our loved ones are not sick. Acknowledge how you are feeling and how it is impacting your life in a way you are comfortable. It is not about over-sharing or doomsday mentality – but humble yourself at this moment.
  • Go back and look at the original posts when students introduced themselves on the discussion forum. Where are they from? Where do they work? Do they have kids or are they caring for older family members or individuals with special needs? Are they military or spouses of the military stationed overseas? Are they at-home moms, telecommuters, or people who travel a lot for work? Consider these circumstances and acknowledge them.
  • Review your syllabus and course schedule – can certain assignments be shifted to extra credit? Can some assignments be given deadline extensions?
  • If you do not already have a system in place, consider creating a set time for virtual office hours – perhaps a Zoom space you will open for an hour 1-2x a week that they can join in as they choose. It will create a space for human connection and community. It may help a lot.
  • Remind them they can email you directly if they have special circumstances or requests.

Lastly, share helpful resources with them. Here are the ones I shared:

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

Amelia Earhart

This post is part of Rebecca L. Cooney’s Online Teaching Tips series. Check out more tips in the “Online Teaching Tips” category.

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