LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 25, 2020) — This week marked the start of online learning for University of Kentucky students across campus following the announcement from President Eli Capilouto suspending all in-person instruction through the end of the spring semester in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
UK is one of many universities to move its classes online using channels such as Zoom — a video conferencing platform — as part of an effort to de-densify campus.
“Overall, both faculty and students indicate that the transition to online is going better than expected,” said Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning and Academic Innovation Kathi Kern. “Faculty have devoted themselves tirelessly over the last week to rethink their courses and prepare them in a new way.”
In the week leading up to the launch of online classes, faculty and teaching staff received training on how to use the software required to make the transition to online learning as smooth as possible.
Teaching, Learning, and Academic Innovation has offered extended instructional design and technology support. Through the Canvas Learning Management System and Zoom, faculty have been able to virtually conduct live classes and tutoring sessions, provide interactive discussion boards and assign coursework with integrated grading capabilities, creating a “new normal” for everyone involved.
Bob Rabel, a faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences in his last year of teaching at UK, was excited for the opportunity to learn a new form of teaching and for his first Zoom class.
“I was really surprised at 10 a.m. when I was able to connect via Zoom with my film class, show my PowerPoint slides and even incorporate external videos into the presentation. I loved it!”
While the transition for faculty has been mostly positive, the modification for students seems to be one that is ever evolving.
“The first day of online class is going well,” said Ashley Wright, a first-year student from Louisville. “My professors have put out new, organized syllabi and kept it clear and organized on how the rest of the semester will be. Even though we aren’t physically meeting, I am still learning the same.”
The move to an online format for classroom instruction has deeply impacted the campus community. Returning to classes, although they may be online, provides students with a sense of normalcy, creating a platform for students to connect with their peers, faculty members and campus.
“After joining a meeting in Zoom today, I feel more confident about this transition to online classes,” said UK student Grace Cruse. “It was nice to see and work with my peers in a virtual setting.”
The Learn Anywhere website has been created to further help students with the move. The website features online course tips, academic support and virtual wellness resources, among other things.
With students at the core of all decisions made at UK, this effort is about creating the opportunity for instruction while also ensuring that students can complete the semester successfully and safely. In pursuit of that objective, especially during times of crisis, the entire UK community is required to be flexible and adapt.
Although this is an unprecedented time for the world, the university proves to be resilient and up for the challenge as UK senior Royall Todd reminds us, “The UK community will overcome this adversity in likeness to how we always do: supporting one another.”
In the coming weeks, UKNow will continue to highlight how colleges and units across campus are transitioning to online classes in creative ways. Additionally, we will continue to share stories from students, faculty and staff over the next several weeks using #LearnAnywhereUKY, #TeachAnywhereUKY, #WorkAnywhereUKY. on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.