Published on 4/6/2020.
We are now at the beginning of our second full week of remote instruction at College of the Redwoods and the initial response from both students and faculty has been encouraging. Faculty are reporting high turnout for their classes and students have written in to express their appreciation to faculty and staff for making the completion of the semester a possibility.
Although the new teaching style is challenging for both students and instructors, it can also be fun to navigate a new reality together and, for many, the interaction is an important touchstone for our community in this time of otherwise isolation.
Instructors have been creative in delivering the necessary content, sometimes using Zoom to deliver real-time lectures to the entire class, sometimes finding open-source materials from other institutions, or pre-recording multiple mini-lectures that students can complete when they have the time. This is especially important for those students who now are also full-time childcare providers and homeschool teachers themselves. We have faculty who have made solo field trips to local areas and recorded their excursions, pointing out relevant elements of the physical environment, and art faculty are live-streaming demos in their own home studios.
Professor Cindy Hooper reports that her students in Art 23 are “working on their ‘Old Masters’ assignments from home and using discussion forums in Canvas to get feedback from both me and fellow students in class. They are doing terrific work and are having fun too!”
In a Zoom session for Rhonda Case’s French class she and a student introduced their cats to one another and, in French, the student described her cat’s personality, appearance, name and age, and her favorite activities.
But it has not all been fun and games. Students have also had to work hard to adapt to this new reality and have faced tech challenges, times management hurdles, and all of the complexities that working from home entails. As one student explains:
I took all day yesterday and some of today to take the time to read through all of the new requirements for each of my classes and make myself a priority list so I can stay on top of things. I have a Zoom account now and will be participating in the live Zoom lecture tomorrow morning. I definitely prefer to have a live discussion of the subjects, plus I miss my classmates!
It seems like the extra effort both faculty and staff have been putting in is paying off though. Some students even report positive changes to their perspectives, like this one from Stephen Quiggle’s Psychology class:
The idea of reframing what we are all experiencing collectively into an opportunity to see this as…time for me to focus on me, and become a better person (and) to then reengage with our larger community helps me to feel less alone. Now I am beginning to see this "crisis" as potential for global improvement.
Meanwhile, other resources for students are also still available. CR’s student services and tech support help lines have been active and staff have been able to direct students to loaner laptops, mental health services, financial aid resources and or other assistance as needed. The Food Pantry on both the Eureka and Del Norte campuses have been open three days a week and the library has a huge collection of online books and databases that students can access 24/7, and reference librarians are available via chat and email.
Through all of this, President Flamer acknowledges that this has not been easy for the college community stating:
I want our students to know that I understand that it may be difficult to make the transition from a brick and mortar classroom to the remote learning environment. It is important to know that we are doing this not just to protect you but also to protect other members of our community who may be more vulnerable to this disease than you are.
I am extremely proud to be a part of a college community where the administration and faculty put the greater good above their own self-interest. I want to thank the faculty and students for their patience and resilience as we all learn to navigate in the new COVID-19 reality.
For information and support, please go to www.redwoods.edu/COVID19