Planning continues for fall classes
Posted On: 06/16/20
Nick Redmond was halfway through his final semester at KCC when spring break began in mid-March.
Then, the college moved classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Redmond felt somewhat optimistic—he had taken an online class before, and it went well. He was also a little unsure – he knew that without a regular schedule it would be easier to lose track of due dates.
“I found myself at first a little excited, it felt like Spring Break had been extended in a weird way,” Redmond said. “I was able to work at my own pace and could dedicate a whole day or two for school work, instead of scattered half mornings and afternoons, allowing me to get in more time at work or just personally.
“Eventually however, I found myself missing the classroom environment, and would have to drag myself sometimes to get work done. All of my teachers did their best to help where they could and make learning still feel important and fun. Every one of my teachers this wild ride of a Spring Semester did an outstanding job to make sure learning stayed interesting and to remind us that the world wasn't all too gloomy.
“I felt, in the end, that I learned everything just as well as I would've in the classroom because of the diligent efforts of my teachers.”
Redmond completed a degree in Computer Graphic Technology and has accepted a position at Harris Rebar as an AutoCAD rebar detailer trainee.
Another student, Martha Avelar started her first semester at Kankakee Community College in January 2020.
She had been away from school for 11 years, and registered for three classes, including an English “hybrid” course, with some online content.
After the announcement that all classes would be online for at least a few weeks, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Avelar said, “Initially, I was nervous.”
Online classes were not part of the Bourbonnais resident’s plans. She also has a 2 year-old son at home.
When classes started again, Avelar described the process as smooth. “I felt like the professors knew what they were doing,” she said.
For Summer 2020, Avelar is enrolled in chemistry and speech. She said the pace of these courses is faster, since they have a full semester of content in eight weeks.
Avalar’s advice for other students is, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take the time you would normally put in to being in class and put that time into the online class.”
When the college moved classes online, adjustments were being made on both sides of the computer monitor.
“I'm very personable in the classroom, and can see their facial expressions to adjust to their needs,” said Jaclyn Cruz, director of the college’s Respiratory Therapist program. “I always relied on that personal experience to know when students truly understood the material.”
In addition to lectures, the program relies heavily on hands-on assignments in labs and clinical locations.
When the college moved to an online environment, Cruz surveyed her students to find out their feelings towards online learning. “The last question was true-false, ‘I trust my professor and know that she will do everything she can to assure my success,’” Cruz shared. “It was important for me to know they all trusted me, and to know that their success matters to me. “
Cruz also talked with students about expectations, both hers and theirs.
“During the first couple weeks, I stressed the importance of communication in any means that worked for them,” she said. “We met on Zoom a lot. Communication and flexibility were proven to be keys for success. I continued to check on students, paid close attention to their feedback, including their fears, and made sure to celebrate all success—big or small.”
Across the college, KCC professors used a variety of teaching techniques to deliver courses online, including recorded lectures, PowerPoint presentations, real-time lectures, videos, and modified assignments. Where needed, some faculty also supplemented online lectures with materials and customized options for students to practice skills and demonstrate their mastery of outcomes.
According to a survey of the college’s faculty, most classes had opportunities for increased communication, plus faculty gave feedback and offered ways to check skills before taking tests, the survey showed.
The survey showed faculty “added video conferencing, online discussion, and online office hours as ways to keep students involved and on track,” said Lesley Cooper, the KCC director of institutional research, who compiled survey results.
The college provided instructors with an Online Course Quality Checklist, and 14 teachers who already held the Illinois Online Network Master Online Teacher certification stepped up as resources for others.
KCC is currently planning for the Fall 2020 semester, which begins Aug. 17.
The college will have a hybrid schedule which mainly falls into three categories. Some lecture-based courses will be online with set time schedules and real-time communication, while others will have a more traditional online format where students set their own schedules. For classes which rely on hands-on components, they will have online lectures and in-person elements which use social distancing, proper cleaning and disinfecting.
Students and prospective students can learn more at email@example.com or visit register.kcc.edu.
A KCC student’s experience – Spring 2020
By Nick Redmond
Before March of this year I had taken one class fully online, and one class as a hybrid. I took Sociology completely online in the Spring of 2019 and found the experience pleasant. It was clear that the class had been built to be handled online and was a relatively stress free experience. The main issue came from remembering assignments, as a lack of a classroom environment and regular schedule makes it easy to lose track of due dates.
My initial thought in March when everything went online was, "I know most of my teachers and classes can handle this, but I'm unsure if a few of them will be able to."
When everything restarted, I found myself at first a little excited, it felt like Spring Break had been extended in a weird way. I was able to work at my own pace and could dedicate a whole day or two for school work, instead of scattered half mornings and afternoons, allowing me to get in more time at work or just personally. Eventually however, I found myself missing the classroom environment, and would have to drag myself sometimes to get work done. Making use of the time I had allocated for school was also a challenge, as there are many distractions at home, whereas in the classroom, learning is promoted and feels right.
All of my teachers did their best to help where they could and make learning still feel important and fun. John Bordeau (Computer Graphic Design) kept us updated constantly and let us know we weren't alone in any of our struggles. John kept communication with my classes so that we could relay how things were going online and update accordingly. My Tech Math II teacher, Frances Hebert, managed to teach her lessons online exactly like they were taught in the classroom, all without sacrificing the integrity or value of the lessons themselves. Tim Wilhelm, my STEM Guitar teacher, put his heart and soul into doing his best to try and ensure we finished our electric guitars, a difficult task without a lab to work in. Finally, Amber Gocken, my Web Design teacher, did a wonderful job of making sure that all of our needs were met and our worries quelled. While the vibrant environment of our class could not be replicated perfectly online, Amber managed to do a hell of a job at making us feel welcome and surrounded by friends. Every one of my teachers this wild ride of a Spring Semester did an outstanding job to make sure learning stayed interesting and to remind us that the world wasn't all too gloomy. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.
I felt, in the end, that I learned everything just as well as I would've in the classroom because of the diligent efforts of my teachers. We were provided discussion boards and encouraged to use them, and even frequently made use of video conferences to communicate and see a familiar face. While no online forum or video call can make up for the feeling you get from seeing your friends in-person, it did the job well enough. I look forward to seeing my friends and even my teachers when this has all gone past us.
Overall, I would like to commend everyone, both faculty and staff, who weathered in through this unprecedented semester. Seeing everyone try so hard and reach out to help one another motivated me to do the same, and I hope it doesn't change when classes resume in person.
Nicholas Redmond completed an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Computer Graphic Design following the Spring 2020 semester. He has accepted a position as an AutoCAD Rebar Detailer Trainee at Harris Rebar.