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COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Dr. Sheila Morgan’s preparation continues to pay off.

Four months ago, Morgan, an instructional technologist at the Mississippi University for Women’s Kossen Center for Teaching & Learning, put all of her training and experience to work when she helped the school transition from face-to-face to online instruction as a result of COVID-19.

“It seems like I have been preparing my whole life to help with an event such as this,” Morgan said in March after leading Canvas workshops to help faculty members understand how to use The W’s learning management system.

As the fall 2020 semester approaches, the planning and preparation continue to build off the success of the spring 2020 semester and to ensure instructors and students are ready.

“The faculty members are working on their online course formats in the event we have to pivot back to the totally online method,” Morgan said.

The W’s Campus Renewal Plan extended the period of time for students to move into on-campus housing. The process will begin Wednesday, Aug. 12 and will end Sunday, Aug. Classes will begin Monday, Aug. 17, so instruction and final examinations can end before the Thanksgiving holiday. As a result, there will be no Fall Break.

Classes will be offered in-person, online (mainly asynchronous, but some synchronous) and in hybrid formats to allow flexibility for remote learning when needed, including the possibility of fully online semester if it is necessary. Synchronous learning is online or distance education that happens in real time, while asynchronous learning occurs through online channels without real-time interaction.

Morgan said the university first put together a Continuity of Instruction plan that charted a course for The W to move from traditional face-to-face content to an online format that used quality instructional technologies. She offered numerous workshops on posting content to faculty members and had one-on-one sessions with her colleagues to help them get their course content online.

The W President Nora Miller and Provost Dr. Scott Tollison praised the campus for coming together quickly to implement a plan to serve students and to continue to offer a quality education. Miller said The Continuity of Instruction Planning Group provided resources for the faculty and Information Technology Services assisted employees with setting up Virtual Private Networks and Remote Desktops so numerous employees could work remotely.

In fact, Tollison said at the time “it was a total group effort from faculty to staff to deans and chairs and beyond” to move classes for the spring 2020 semester online.

“I absolutely could not be prouder to see how quickly and enthusiastically everyone came together to support this transition,” Tollison said.

Morgan said plenty of work remains to make sure everyone is prepared for all of the new wrinkles that are bound to pop up, but she is confident the instruction will meet the students’ needs.

Seemed like she had been “preparing her whole life” for her role in the transition. She also led Canvas workshops to help faculty members understand how to use The W’s learning management system.

“Many faculty members have elected to master Zoom technology (a video conference tool) now so that they can offer real-time virtual sessions for lectures and virtual office visits with students in the online environments,” Morgan said.

“In addition, in case a student can’t attend the real-time event, many are posting the recorded sessions to the canvas courses.

“Faculty are also converting their in-class assignments, activities and discussions into new ways that will work well for students online.”



Aug. 7, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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