On March 13, 2020 UNB announced that all classes would be moved online for the rest of the semester. This posed the question, how will professors ensure equal learning opportunities for all students?
The Brunswickan spoke to professors in various faculties to learn more about the process of converting a class, and to understand the measurements taken to induce learning in an online format.
Matthew Sears, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History “found it fairly easy to convert to online,” as he has two large lecture courses, and all of the material already on D2L.
To adjust, Sears narrated the lecture slides, and will be posting weekly videos to highlight important things to focus on within the notes.
He said this was “overall, a smooth transition.” While he would prefer in person classes, Sears feels confident in the actions taken by the university.
“University has done well responding to this unprecedented crisis,” said Sears.
Terri Byers, Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Kinesiology has found the transition to online completely seamless.
“I have been using blended learning for many years and much of my material is already online, so it was just a case of delivering,” she explained.
Byers has experience delivering material in an online format, both at UNB and through “delivering webinars for UK Governance Institute.” She feels that the university has done a good job at being flexible with different delivery methods, and values the communication between colleagues for support.
Byers does not feel that students will miss out on key learning opportunities without a classroom setting. In fact, she feels confident that this method will be a good opportunity “for students to be able to adapt.”
Scott Bateman, Associate Professor of Computer Science, feels that converting to online brings three main struggles: technology, course adjustments and scaling expectations.
“There are the technical struggles to figure out how to identify some technology that will work best for your class…in a really short amount of time,” he said. “[Professors must] figure out how to adjust the course requirements, planned activities and grading so they best allow all the students to complete the course successfully.”
Additionally, professors must “balance what [they] would ideally like to teach with what is feasible.”
Bateman feels that UNB, and those at the Centre for Enhanced Teaching and Learning have been, “absolutely outstanding.” He highlighted their dedication to staying late, and referenced the support that they have been providing, including tutorials and Q&A sessions.
“When we come out on the other side, we will all have learned about what we can do when we put our minds to it and work together,” he said. “While this situation is truly terrible, there is no better learning opportunity than what is happening for all of us right now.”