We’re just under two weeks away from the fall semester on all three of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campuses. We’re finishing up our Titans Return series today with an update about what students can expect on the Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses in September from Martin Rudd, the assistant chancellor of the access campuses.
What did faculty and staff on the access campuses learn about teaching online this past spring that may inform how hybrid or online classes will be conducted in the fall?
The abrupt and unanticipated change in the spring was disruptive to teaching and learning. Knowing which courses will be online or hybrid has been a huge advantage to designing courses for this fall. We have learned to match the best of online resources (apps, videos, etc.), while also maintaining a high level of interaction with students using things like scheduled virtual office hours and small group breakout sessions. We have had a lot of training this summer on using institutional-supported resources so the students will be using a lot of the same tools in all of their courses.
There also is a big shift in how we are approaching our in-person classes. We understand that we may need to switch to remote instruction. We will be leveraging our time with students, when the campus is open, to explore both face-to-face instructional methods and online methods so that students are better prepared if public health requires us to go fully virtual. If we don’t have to shift to remote instruction, students will simply have some online resources they may or may not wish to use.
Describe how faculty members on the access campuses are preparing for the fall semester.
Faculty members on the access campuses have been engaged in unprecedented levels of summer professional development opportunities to address online, hybrid and flexible in-person course delivery modes for the fall. Our faculty include leaders for institution-wide workshops and grant recipients for specialized training.
As life-long learners, faculty also have connected with national and international discipline-specific groups, which are sharing best practices. The access campuses already had a substantial number of faculty with online and hybrid teaching experiences, but there have recently been changes to the course management system that we use to connect with students in any type of classroom environment. There are many features that make communication with students in classes more streamlined and that can build an organized and logical set of materials students can read, use, watch, participate in and review. We are looking forward to getting back into the physical or virtual classroom and are equipped with new tools to meet students where they are.
How have you refocused on virtual experiences for the upcoming semester with innovative and creative resources for the community?
Our campuses continue to fulfill our mission in the communities that support us. In addition to serving degree-seeking students and transfer students, with the increasing demand for online educational opportunities, the continuing education office at the UWO, Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses has reimagined its catalog of courses this fall to offer a wide range of professional development non-credit courses, personal enrichment options and even travel experiences in a virtual format.
For those experiencing an unexpected job loss, several online courses with local experts in September and October will help improve job searches and develop essential skills. Many personal enrichment courses previously offered in person have been reimagined for an online platform. Just a few of the courses offered include how to better use your smart phone technology, foundations of investing, servant leadership and strategies to successfully buy or sell your home.
What advice would you give students who may perhaps be on the fence about starting college or returning during this time?
Our access campuses have always been outstanding places to start a college experience, whether in person or through remote learning opportunities. We have and continue to offer a premium UWO general education inside our buildings. We have a small college, and our physical locations, easy parking and one-stop “solution centers” are ideal for students to easily get to their classes and have their questions about their path towards a college degree answered.
In or out of the buildings, our faculty and staff are committed to helping students succeed through advising and support services. The smaller class sizes will offer students a uniquely personal experience whether they are coming from high school, continue to work through college or bring life experiences from all of their other pursuits.