The COVID-19 situation has permeated the world, but instead of succumbing to it, Americans have been banding together to overcome the threat it poses to both health and our way of life. This has been particularly evident within our Southeastern community, with faculty, staff, and students all working together and demonstrating their commitment to offering or pursuing a quality education.
Dr. William B. Robison, professor of history and department head of the Department of History and Political Sciences (HIPS), is one of the hundreds of faculty members who has adapted quickly to the situation in order to continue to meet students’ academic needs. “Although I would much prefer to teach my classes in person, particularly because they were very good classes this semester, adapting to online instruction and work from home has gone smoothly,” he said. “As Department Head of the Department of History and Political Science, I am very fortunate that most faculty in the department have taught online classes and that the few who have not done so were quick to seek assistance from the Center for Faculty Excellence or tech-savvy graduate students.”
In transitioning to fully remote instruction, William has been recording lectures using voiceover with Keynote slides and uploading them to YouTube along with posting their URLs in Moodle, hosting forum discussions on Moodle, and conducting meetings through GoogleMeet and Zoom. He also plans to begin occasionally incorporating GoogleMeet into his courses.
For William, who commented on the high level of participation in class discussion he had been able to enjoy until going remote, the lack of human contact has been his biggest obstacle to overcome. To help stay connected as best as possible, he has been keeping in touch with students and faculty by using email, messaging, the department’s Facebook page, and telephone.
Online courses may not be what students originally signed up, but William has noticed only strength, integrity, and dedication from students. “Contrary to the infuriating and inaccurate stereotype of contemporary university students as entitled ‘snowflakes,’ my students all have taken the situation in stride,” he said. “Of course they are not thrilled at the threat COVID-19 poses, and most of my students have told me they miss the face-to-face contact, but they have not complained or neglected their work.”
William also discussed how fellow faculty have been meeting this difficult time head-on. “The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenging mixture of devastation and uncertainty, but faculty are doing their jobs. We take a lot of pride in doing it right,” he said.
Reflecting on the situation, William commented that “Nothing much has surprised me. Our administration, faculty, staff, and students have responded well, as I would have expected. What I have learned is that we are a pretty resilient group of people. The experience has also reconfirmed for me that when the chips are down, Americans for the most part put aside their many divisions, political and otherwise, and do what needs to be done to survive and help others. That has been a great source of encouragement for me during this tough time.”