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Switching to Online College Classes during Coronavirus Outbreak

Switching to Online College Classes during Coronavirus Outbreak

Online classes are the new normal for millions of college students across the USA.

It’s true more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the world. As a result, Mississippi College students will switch beginning March 23 to a full menu of online courses.

At homes and other off-campus locations, nearly 5,000 MC students will take courses in business, nursing, the humanities, education, law, sciences and other disciplines. There are other retooled online resources available to Mississippi College students. MC Writing Center tutors are moving to Zoom as their primary platform to offer academic help starting Monday.

“One of our goals with online tutoring is to maintain as much as we can the personal connections and relationships we build with writers face-to-face,” says Steve Price, the MC Writing Center director.

Students without a stable Internet connection for a live chat session on Zoom, can email tutors. They will receive responses within 24 hours. Online Writing Center consultation hours will run from Monday through Thursday. The hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The growing popularity of online higher education is nothing new. About a year before the Coronavirus pandemic began March 11, 33 percent of all USA college students were taking at least one online class, says the Babson Survey Research Group.

An online teaching veteran, accounting professor Billy Morehead advised a graduate student from Guam who earned her master’s degree at MC last year. The student made her first visit to MC to receive her diploma.

“Designed correctly, online classes can engage students more directly, tailored more specifically to individual learning needs and accommodations,’’ Morehead says. Online courses, he said, “provide greater opportunities for improved learning. As anything, one gets better with practice. Think outside the box, use the digital resources, available, be flexible, have fun and enjoy.”

An English professor, Price sees the benefits of online instruction. “I think effective education adapts to ever-changing needs of students and communities. And that’s what we’re seeing in the extreme cases of COVID-19.”

As of March 20, there were 80 Coronavirus cases in Mississippi. Public schools across the Magnolia State will stay closed through April 17. The state’s colleges and universities are not offering traditional classes at the moment. All institutions are stepping up online programs.

MC faculty began receiving increased online instruction all week to get ready for Monday’s classes.

Communication major Marquisha Mathis at first wondered how she would do her work when the Coronavirus outbreak spread around the globe.

Her books on the Clinton campus were far from her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as the Spring Break was extended a week.

“Since everything was going to be moved online, I thought maybe the professors would provide materials and resources for us. And they did just that, so I didn’t have to drive almost three hours back to MC,” Mathis said.

Having said that, Marquisha really doesn’t like taking online classes involving her communications major. “I think face-to-face interaction is more important. It allows you to really learn what your professor is talking about.”

MC student Austin LaBrot of Illinois is giving good grades to online as the health crisis lingers. “For the time being, online education is the way to go,” says LaBrot, news editor at the “Collegian.”

While Austin misses seeing friends on the Clinton campus, “it’s kind of cool to work remotely.” Still, for the long haul, online, he says, should only be a supplement to the traditional college classroom.