Durham College suspended classes March 13 and days later all teaching and learning moved online.
Faculty had one week to adjust and adapt all programs and classes to this new environment. Within that week, professors came up with specific plans for teaching their courses, which was challenging considering that many college programs involve labs and hands-on learning.
Hussam Jawad is one of those faculty members. He teaches business math and supply chain management in the Business Fundamentals program, and with the help of his son, he was able to adapt and has found a new teaching technique for his online classes.
“I bought a digital pad. It’s a pad with a pen,” he says. “I connect it on Bluetooth to my laptop, I share the window with my students, and I do the math exactly as I’m doing in the class. In the class I have my whiteboard, so here’s the same.”
He says everything was rushed and unexpected but it’s all coming together now.
“I cannot say it went 100 per cent, but so far I’m happy,” says Jawad.
But not all classes can be transformed into online lectures. For some programs, such as Plumbing and Event Management, faculty and students are facing struggles to finish the semester.
Edward Logan, a plumbing professor, said one of his courses this semester, Plumbing Practice 2, is being postponed until access to schools is cleared.
Logan says the rest of the classes that consist of theoretical knowledge are being taught online and will be able to be completed.
Yet, he acknowledges there are challenges.
“Some of my students don’t have all the technology, some depend on the Wi-Fi they get in school or they maybe only get one device like a cellphone, so I know that makes it a little more challenging for them,” he says.
Meanwhile, Event Management professor Tricia Wiseman has also been facing difficulties. Because of the pandemic, large gatherings of people are no longer allowed, so many in-person events have been cancelled.
“Unfortunately, some events had to be cancelled so we weren’t able to execute them, but we had two events we were able to transition to online,” she says.
The DC Journalism Awards is one of the two transitioned to a video launch. It is now going to happen through a recorded video being sent out later. She said it still gives her students the opportunity to launch an event by sharing the video.
Wiseman says it’s been difficult for her and the students to switch gears so quickly.
“I don’t think the online learning itself is a challenge, I think the quick transition was the challenging part,” she adds.
“The faculty have their assignments, the way they teach things. The students have the way they learn, they have their expectations of what they’re going to be doing in the course. And then all of a sudden everything is tossed in the air and you just have to adjust.”
These professors have not only had the challenge of moving their courses online but are now having to adjust with their families.
Logan is the father of three boys who recently started online school themselves.
“My wife is going to be going out for work more and not be home. It’s going to be more challenging that way because now I’m going to try to help them with their technology,” he says.
His course continues throughout the spring semester, meaning the challenge also continues for him.
Jawad’s 16-year-old son, on the other hand, ended up helping him with technology.
“I took his bedroom upstairs. He (my son) told me if I let him go to the basement, he would give me his monitor,” he said.
Wiseman is also getting used to a new routine with her young children.
“I get up at 5 a.m. and start work, get a couple of hours in before the kids wake up. I work a little bit and have to take care of my kids and home life a little bit, so I just switch off between the two,” she explains.
Her kids still don’t fully understand why they are home. She says she’s been having conversations about them not going back to school but it’s still “a work in progress.”