CMU Has Smooth Transition Moving Classes Online

Some colleges had monumental work to switch their classes online. At Central Methodist University, it was more like a pivot.

In 2017, Central Methodist University’s Board of Trustees and leadership had the foresight to launch Digital U, a digital learning initiative on the Fayette campus, putting iPads into the hands of each student. Faculty members started changing the way they taught right away.

So when the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives, getting to the new normal was well-within CMU’s reach.

“I am very proud of our faculty,” said President Roger Drake. “This is an unprecedented time in higher education and they are focused on our mission – preparing students to make a difference in the world.”

Provost Rita Gulstad said the smooth transition is about faculty engagement, something on which CMU consistently ranks high.

“We care about keeping our students engaged,” said Gulstad. “So, it is incumbent upon our faculty and they are doing a great job. It’s already taking place.”

Consider Laura Lewis’ education class on Zoom each Tuesday. It’s not a case of watching the “Lewis lecture.” Students have gone into groups and host the Zoom discussions themselves. They also use the video segments in their books, and Big Interview through Handshake for interview assignments.

Lisa Morrison is using YouTube, discussion boards, and online quizzes. Venerable professor John Flanders is doing online discussion forums, online one-on-one meetings, and online testing. Professor Dave Hickman has his lectures on Panopto, and is putting finance problems on a whiteboard app. His exams and quizzes are already online with the exception of human resource management, which is handled through MyLab.

Over in the sciences, chemistry professor Tiger Gordon is delivering asynchronous content for students from a wide variety of time zones. He’s also posting lectures on YouTube. His biology counterpart, Greg Thurmon is Zooming regularly into students’ iPads.

Each faculty member stays in contact with their division chairs, carefully mapping out and documenting their students’ online journey, said Provost Rita Gulstad.

“Our faculty’s eye remains on the prize – graduation of our students and preparing them to integrate into a job and into society,” Gulstad said.

Joe Parisi, vice president for enrollment management, noted that while CMU’s offices are closed, the work continues virtually.

“Digital U isn’t just about students and faculty,” he said. “Our admissions counselors are doing virtual visits and our entire staff is working from home.”

“Families are still looking for normalcy and are planning for the future – the fall,” he said. “We’re there to give them a great virtual experience. We don’t know what the next few weeks holds, but we are hopeful and preparing for a great fall experience for all the Eagle family.”

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