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COVID-19 Reflection Blog: Kathleen Gosser, PhD (Assistant Professor, Management)

March 30, 2020 - -
Kathy Gosser Faculty College of Business

Our Students

The resiliency of my students is what inspires me every single day. Many of my students are graduating in May and actively seeking employment. Their lives have been turned upside down. But they persevere. To provide relief, the university graciously deployed a pass/fail policy; however, the majority of my students want to continue to earn their grades.  

My goal is to ensure my students feel supported and nurtured. Yes, I used that word “nurtured,” which is an odd statement for an academic. But, in this world of social isolation, I want my students to know that I care about them and will help them every step of their academic journey.

With my seated class, I chose to transition to Collaborate Ultra on Blackboard so that I could see and hear my students and simulate a classroom environment. This tool provides interactive features such as audio, video, chat, polling, groups, and even the ability to “write” on my uploaded slides. 

It is more work to drive engagement, but using the rule of not talking for more than 3-5 minutes before I ask a question is making a difference. Each class is kicked off with a slide asking the students a question about what’s been going on. This slide gets them used to engaging with each other. They are even teasing each other in the chat, which is heartwarming.

Following up individually with each student has also let them know that I truly care about them. That is why I chose teaching as a second career – the students. Now is the time to truly demonstrate that they are the heartbeat of the university.

COB Transition

In one short week, every class in the College of Business (COB) had to transition to an online modality. For Spring, 2020, we had 29 undergraduate classes already online, but 166 were seated – yes, 166 classes to be moved in one week!

Kristen Lucas [Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs] quickly sprung into action. She realized that while the Delphi Center was providing many training sessions, we needed internal support in the COB. She surveyed the faculty to determine levels of expertise with online; five of us felt we could serve as “experts” and provide COB training and mentorship. We originally planned to do this in person, but again our plans changed quickly, so we created online resources. Our expert faculty include Melissa Campbell, Abby Koenig, Dale McIntosh, Andrew Wright, and me. We each claimed our particular area of expertise and went to work.  

A Training Resources site was created in Blackboard, and all COB faculty and staff were added to it. The five of us created video tutorials demonstrating how to use the functions of Blackboard to deliver rich online content. We hosted live sessions in Blackboard to respond to questions. 

We also spent time one-on-one with professors needing a bit more guidance. Kristen set up a mentoring program as well and solicited mentors and mentees.  

The Training Resource site continues to evolve and grow with new material. We added external resources on how to deliver online as well as student resources. 

There is a discussion board to drive conversations among the faculty. We are adding some cultural components such as a section for fun (humorous cartoons, for example) and one for inspiration. We even host online office hours. 

The most unexpected outcome of all of this for me is that I feel closer to many of my fellow faculty members than I did before. I started full-time last August, so I am new. The “forced” partnerships have created much respect and sharing of knowledge among faculty. 

We are certainly not “wasting a good crisis” as we are collaborating and helping each other more than ever. The growth mindset that we are currently experiencing is invigorating for all of us and our students.