COLUMBUS, Miss.--Dr. Brian Anderson, professor of political science and dean of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, said he is confident Mississippi University for Women is using its resources in every way possible to stabilize and to advance the educational tracks of its students following the university’s move to remote delivery.
“I am impressed that chairs and faculty in my college’s departments have risen to the task quickly and expertly,” Anderson said. “We know there may be technical let-downs and further constraints placed on our effort by the evolving public health crisis, but I think so far we see a means of finishing under these hopefully once-in-a-lifetime circumstances.”
Anderson provided a breakdown of the steps taken by faculty members in those CASE departments facing particular challenges caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Art & Design
Without in-person classes, Anderson said students in ceramics, painting and other classes are being allowed to complete conceptual work through sketches and have video chats about that. Students going through portfolio review will photograph works in their portfolio to be judged by faculty. The biggest letdown is among graduating seniors, who normally would be completing and curating works for the end-of-term Senior Exhibition, which is a required step in the curriculum. Some of their works are in Summer Hall but others will be completed remotely and photos or videos will be sent in. He said there won’t be a gallery exhibition and that faculty members will try to work it out so students can come back in the fall and have their moment in the spotlight.
Anderson said The W is watching for cues from the Mississippi Department of Education in Jackson about how much and how well virtual (i.e., video-enabled) work by students in the last stage of the curriculum (observed teaching) can count toward licensure requirements. Since those students aren’t doing any actual teaching, they may be given classroom scenarios and asked to demonstrate how they would respond in those situations.
Instructors are relying greatly on FaceTime, Zoom and other social media outlets for studio lessons and student demonstrations of mastery. Most piano students have a keyboard at home, so the main issue then is whether they have a computer and a Wi-Fi connection. Faculty are working on solutions for students without access to a keyboard. Anderson said it is unfortunate students can’t currently perform in ensembles in person, but Dr. Brandon Robinson is recreating the instrumental ensemble experience using Discord. Students in voice ensembles will use the rest of the semester to learn their own individual parts in preparation for future performances.
Sciences & Math
Faculty members have faced challenges to convert labs in biology and the other sciences to online modality. Anderson said there are plenty of YouTube and other videos that demonstrate lab procedures, experiments and outcomes, but there’s nothing like doing it yourself rather than watching it. Faculty members will monitor students in this situation and make sure they acquire the needed experience as they progress into more advanced courses next term.
Anderson said the decision to move classes online for the rest of the semester forced the cancellation of the spring production and the show planned for Homecoming weekend. Students will rely on video-based course work (e.g. having students act a scene through Zoom or some other video channel), but it is disappointing that the grand goal of the semester, the staged productions that are open to audiences, will not happen.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino