Murrow Transitions – a discussion about the impact of moving classes online

Originally posted Apr 17, 2020 on the Murrow College YouTube channel and Murrow College website. The Murrow Minutes series is led by Mickinzie Johnson, Recruitment Coordinator and Academic Advisor, Murrow Ambassadors, and video support from Kanale Rhoden, Instructor.

The Murrow Minutes Goes Virtual series was created once #StayHomeStayHealthy orders were issued and all classes were moved online. Their first episode aired on April 9 called “Major Murrow Questions.”

YouTube link:

Murrow Transitions
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In preparation for this segment, I was asked to prepare answers to three key questions:

  • Q: What has been challenging as a faculty member moving to virtual courses? 

    A: This semester I am teaching two undergraduate (300-level) in-person courses and two online graduate courses that are part of the Online MA Strategic Communication program. As someone who has designed and delivered many online-only courses for more than six years, this inevitability was not as daunting for me as it was for others. Preparation and readiness was not my challenge. What I could not prepare for or predict was how emotionally and physically challenging it would be to shift two courses I have taught in-person for more than 8 years and after nine weeks of instruction, take everything I and the students have built, tear it from our arms, and retrofit it into a virtual space – all in one week.

  • What has been your favorite part about moving virtual?  

    A: Teaching classes delivered online using a synchronous tool like Zoom. I like leading live Zoom sessions, breakout rooms, and small group meetups that last anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour. I like having the option to record and that by recording, students who were unable to attend can still access and benefit from the information. This experience will change the way I teach asynchronous, traditional Global Campus online courses, as well as open up new possibilities for content delivery in future in-person classes.

  • What are your tips to students as a faculty member for success in online courses? 

    A: For faculty and instructors moving courses online: You will be successful if you are consistent, responsive, and patient. Keep things simple, on-track, and limit last-minute changes or adjustments to any published plan. Be mindful of different learning styles, access to technology, and the comfort zones of your students. Use the technology that is supported by WSU – Blackboard, Panopto, and Zoom. Take advantage of resources, training, and helpful individuals who have been identified as experts. Be yourself and bring your best self to the virtual classroom every time.

    For students new to online learning: Be patient with yourself and your instructors. Pay attention to email in a way you have never paid attention to before. Read before you write to your professor. Make a note of all of your deadlines because you must be accountable for your work and assignments. Take advantage of live Zoom sessions and virtual office hours. Use Questions for the Instructor forums in Blackboard and stay connected to peers in your class. Review to-do lists, recorded lectures, and assignment instructions carefully. Slow down and take time to read and read again. Carve out time for learning, studying, and engaging. Be yourself and bring your best self to the virtual classroom every time.

I was also asked to provide some examples that visually showcase this transition. I decided to focus on the transition of my in-person COMSTRAT 310 Digital Content Promotion course where 40 students work in 10 teams throughout the semester. We now meet weekly via Zoom to review campaign progress including their adjustments in messaging and visuals for COVID-19 using best practices in digital campaign adjustment in times of crisis. In addition to the 1:1 meetups with students in 310, I also hold live sessions to walk students through an assignment or tutorial.

Team Bokeh Lens giving a thumbs up during a 1:1 session

Snip from live recorded Zoom session with team Bokeh Lens

Snip of live recorded Zoom tutorial session on campaign metrics tracking

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

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