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August 9, 2020
online classes

USM Begins Online Classes in Response to Pandemic

As many are already aware, the spread of COVID-19 has adjusted the way schools and colleges function. Accustomed to live, face-to-face classes, they are now being forced to transfer to online classes for the safety of everyone involved. This precaution, hopefully, will lessen the risk of exposure for students and professors.

At Southern Miss, Spring Break was extended for an extra week, and, now, we have begun online classes as of March 30. Needless to say, this is a big and sudden change. Classes that are normally face to face are now behind a screen. Some have chosen to continue the previous schedule, but instead broadcasting on a video chat, such as Zoom. Another common alternative that professors are using is posting videos of their usual lecture for students to watch at their leisure. Live discussions have now become discussion posts and appointments are, of course, done digitally. For some, this can be much more difficult; for others, it may be easier; but for all, it is definitely a different experience.

Although this is a lot to adjust to, I’m finding that at Southern Miss many of my professors are more than willing to help – constantly responding to emails, rewriting their syllabi, and completely restructuring their course to make the best of the situation. Dr. Steedman, who I’ve had since my first semester here, has continued to communicate with us as equals, asking for our advice and making sure we were comfortable with the class material before moving on. In this class, we have weekly virtual meetings, journal entries, and discussion posts. This class, Honors Colloquium, is heavily based on interaction and discussion, so it was reasonable to think that the transition online may be difficult. However, I feel that, given the circumstances, Dr. Steedman has been really helpful in giving us the smoothest transition as possible.

Another professor that I, personally, have who I feel made this transition easier is Professor Dylan Loring. Also a student, it is reasonable to assume that he is busy with his own classes, but he has never failed to communicate with us and ask our opinions on how the class should be run. It being an English Composition class, one would think that teaching it online would be nearly impossible, but we have still been participating in peer review. This is another one of my classes where I never have any doubt if I am behind, because the communication is so constant.

That being said, transitioning to online class is bound to be difficult under these circumstances no matter what. To any other student going through the same thing, I would say to communicate with your professors first and foremost. Then, frankly, hope that technology will be on your side. On another note, use this opportunity to your advantage, and stay safe and healthy! Although I have recounted my personal experience, all official information regarding COVID-19 and the University is found on USM’s website.

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