Learning Continues Online

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A move toward online learning has received a massive impetus with the coronavirus.

For years, online learning has been an option.

Area colleges had introduced various options and seen some student interest in the format.

Closing classroom facilities with the coronavirus is further driving this.

Among institutions where this is taking place, Northeast Iowa Community College closed campus to the public Monday, a closure that will run through Friday, April 10.

The move is a new one for NICC.

“Northeast Iowa Community College has never implemented a full work-from-home-plan until today,” said Wendy Knight, vice president of institutional effectiveness and advance- ment. “This an event like never before, as we are in uncharted territory.”

NICC staff began working remotely Monday.

Public events on campus are also not happening through April 10.

Face-to-face classes moved online Monday, joining online classes that had begun already.

For online students, the term is continuing as it would have normally.

Classroom students, though, are having to get used to new realities.

Becoming acquainted with conferencing tools as well as the tasks of uploading assignments and using an online forum can be daunting.

Students are also having to adjust to not physically interacting with classmates and their instructors.

Classroom activities such as labs and clinicals as well as internships are out of the question.

Among those affected is Deb Hageman, an instructor in business and technology.

Hageman had taught a hybrid course, utilizing both classroom and online instruction.

That class is now going to be solely online.

Hageman said she has put up this week’s portion and is working on next week’s in what she called a “time consuming” endeavor.

The instructor has been in communication with her students already.

“I know there’s some stress...” said Hageman.

Still, instructor approachability is not a big concern right now after already being in touch with students.

“I think that’s the key...communication....” said Hageman.

Students who already used to quizzes online will see those continue.

NICC’s IT “has been great” with the transition, said Hageman.

One thing that will help students is that due dates have been extended for many instructors, said Hageman.

The move is not a complete shock for Hageman.

“I’ve taught online before, quite a few years ago...” said Hageman.

The closure of schools might have some long-term effects in promoting online learning by being a spur to more online learning down the road.

“It could be,” said Hageman.