We’ve gone online for the entire
semester and that is new for everybody on this campus. This is the first time
and hopefully the only time that we take a brick-and-mortar institution and
turn it into an online institution in the middle of a semester. That’s new
territory for all of us and we’re figuring out how to do it on the fly, but
we’re gonna get through. One of the things that we’re really trying to focus
on is giving students everything they need to succeed and we know that this is
an unusual set of circumstances, this is going to be challenges that we haven’t
even anticipated. The main portal for students to engage their academic work
is Moodle, our online delivery course management system. Probably most students
will do all of their coursework through that site. Every class connected to
Moodle will have assignments there will be interactive activities so going to
Moodle everyday and regularly is going to be a big first step, but we’re not
just going to leave students there. We’re making sure that we have online help
available. We have got the Writing Center, the Math Lab, Academic Coaching and all
the resources that a student would need on campus, off campus. They can still go
to the library and they can get tutoring online and we’re making sure those
resources are available in a virtual environment. We do have a lot of student
services that have to continue. Students still need advising, they still need help
with financial aid, they still need help with registration, so those operations
are still ongoing and all those offices are being staffed so they can operate
remotely. It won’t be the same, but what we’re trying to do is have a situation
where students can get all the help they need, whether it’s academic or
administrative and not have to have that physical contact that’s just impossible
right now. In this environment, we’re going to instruction using the term
asynchronous and that means that a class will have an activity that needs to be
done by a certain time, but doesn’t have to be done simultaneously. So with
asynchronous instruction the important thing is for the student to figure out
their schedule and the best advice we’ve gotten is to build a schedule and stick
to it. While there’s a great deal of
flexibility with online programs some students struggle with the freedom of
being able to build their own schedule. So families and students should probably
sit down and build a schedule that gives time for academic work.
Studies show that a student who is online, who does create a space, both a
physical and a psychological space to work, those students tend to do better, so
our advice is to create a workspace where you go to class. In Moodle itself,
there’s all kinds of ways that you can reach out to a professor. You can send
them a private message, you can post a question on a message board, but remember
too that professors still have email and they’re still out there for you in other
ways. It will be more incumbent on students to make that connection to
reach out and send a note saying, you know, I watched that online lecture you
posted, but this is a concept I didn’t quite get my handle on. Can you give me
another way to approach this? And that connection does require a little bit
more effort on the instructor side and the student side. There’s also some key
contacts that don’t necessarily have websites that students need to put into
their minds. Of course, the professor contact information I just mentioned.
Knowing who your advisor is and getting contact with that advisor is very
important. The advisor is gonna be a key person to help you adjust, if things
aren’t the way they should be in your schedule and to think about next
semester, which of course normally we’d be discussing next semester schedules in
person. Thirdly, knowing the department chair’s contact information. That’s all on
Coastal’s website through the directory, but there’ll be times when the
department chair needs to be aware that you’re facing particular circumstances
and challenges. A great resource that all students are used to pulling on and will
continue to use even in this environment, is CHANT411. They are the
nexus of information, they have all the latest updates on every circumstance and
if you can’t figure out how to get an answer you can start there and they can
point you in the right direction. The student stress has got to be high. We
know that the faculty and staff stress is elevated right now, so there will be
moments where this will be overwhelming to a student. You’re home and you didn’t
expect to be home or you’re not home because circumstances don’t allow you to
go home and all the classes that used to be face-to-face are now in a very
different setting, so there will be moments where you first have to take
care of yourself physically and be aware of the
social distancing recommendations we’re all following, but also think about your
state of mind and be open to the fact that this will cause moments of
frustration, of anger and that those moments are to be expected and to, taking
care of yourself also means understanding your limits in an
environment that none of us could have planned for. We know students have
already invested in this semester, in this year and in their degree, so when we
talk about how difficult this is and we talk about the challenges we’re facing,
it is much better to be able to complete the term, even under less than ideal
circumstances, than decide that this semester never happened and those credits
will never be earned and those grades and that would be assigned. You’re going to
have a long life and hopefully a successful career and you’ll look back
at these eight weeks as the most unusual eight weeks of your college career, but
they shouldn’t be the defining eight weeks, they shouldn’t determine what
happens to you next and we’ll keep working with you to help you achieve
whatever it, whatever you wanted to achieve when you arrived at this
campus.

Message From Provost Dan Ennis at Coastal Carolina University
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