KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 9, 2020
KSU faculty adjust to online platforms for semester
Michael Maloni, a professor of management in Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business, much prefers to teach students face-to-face rather than remotely.
Like all KSU faculty members, though, Maloni had to transition his courses online midway through this semester in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Kennesaw State instituted remote learning for all its courses, meaning that faculty had to figure out how best to utilize online platforms to deliver instructional materials that had been designed for in-person presentation.
Maloni thrives on the classroom environment and feeds off of student engagement, so he wasn’t sure how his methods would translate to remote learning. However, as he conducted his classes live, sharing his presentations and conversing with his students online, Maloni and his students found themselves pleasantly surprised with the results.
“It was business as usual,” Maloni said. “We met our most important goal of providing a high-quality educational experience that our students expect.”
Andrea Knowlton faced a possibly more daunting task, as an assistant professor of dance. After all, an interactive field such as dance might not seem like the easiest to covert to an online environment.
One step Knowlton took for her modern dance course was to provide voice recordings guiding the students through movement improvisations, followed by the students posting a reflection on their individual experience. Knowlton also had the students in her class film and submit their warm-up and combinations, allowing her to provide feedback from afar.
“The dance department is a very tight-knit group, so the students really miss that interaction,” Knowlton said. “Our department is committed to helping them stay connected through the various class projects.”
Dance hasn’t been the only department that has required innovative methods to teach studio courses, as assistant professor of architecture Tim Frank demonstrated. Typically held in the expansive studio spaces on campus, discussion sessions instead were conducted via Zoom video conferences or on Collaborate. With students no longer able to receive direct critiques on their physical drawings or models, Frank and other faculty members have shifted to one-on-one meetings with students through video chat to offer guidance.
Maloni, Knowlton and Frank are just three examples of KSU faculty members tailoring solutions that made sense for each unique course – and doing so in a tight timeframe. Following a regular week of classes, Kennesaw State canceled classes for just two days before implementing the entirely remote learning format for all courses.
It Takes a Village
Preventing a disruption in teaching and learning amidst the coronavirus concerns was a team effort in the Bagwell College of Education.
The BCOE’s instructional technology team – instructional designer Walt Justice, distance learning coordinator Julie Moore, technology coach Helen Maddox, and special assistant to the dean for technology Traci Redish – provided continuous support for faculty and staff in transitioning to remote teaching and working. In the week leading up to KSU’s all-online conversion, the tech team helped faculty and staff learn more about how to use D2L, deliver online sessions with students, host virtual office hours, hold virtual meetings in Microsoft Teams, assess students online, and answer any other online questions.
“Everybody pulled together and made it work,” Redish said. “We weren’t too concerned because we have the infrastructure in place to make a smooth transition to online learning. We realize how important technology is to everything we do in education.”
One of the Bagwell College’s success stories involved Sherri Booker, a lecturer of instructional technology. Booker put together several tutorial videos, walking students through lessons just as she would if they were in class. On Kennesaw State’s first day of all-remote classes, Booker was live online for seven straight hours during the different sections of her courses, giving her students a comfort level that she was online with them and was there to answer any questions.
“I wanted to be accessible to them as though they were sitting in my classroom,” Booker said. “It was important to show our students that we were going to make it together.”
Teamwork also was the key for computing and software engineering lecturers Mokter Hossain, Dexter Howard, Kaleigh Kendrick and Doug Malcolm, who came together to support their students in the introductory programming courses. With more than 1,100 first-year students in their sections, they and their seven lab assistants worked online as a team to post lectures and sample assignments with solutions and use screencasting (via VoiceThread and Repl.it) to show narrated examples of what they would have been doing in face-to-face courses.
The variety of faculty strategies accomplished a singular mission – to help students transition as smoothly as possible to remote learning and keep them on track in their coursework. For Tori Fields, a senior majoring in marketing, her professors’ efforts not only put her at ease about shifting all five of her spring classes online, but also changed her entire perspective on remote learning.
“I feel like it would have been a lot harder if my teachers hadn’t been so understanding,” said Fields, who will graduate in December. “I have registered for only online classes to complete my degree.”
— Paul Floeckher
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.