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Transition to remote learning brings out creativity, utilizes technology

Submitted to Branson Globe

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, College of the Ozarks, 100 Opportunity Ave. Point Lookout made the move to remote learning the week of March 30 after an extended spring break for students. Now, the end of the spring semester is nearing. Students and professors alike have learned new skills as a result of the challenge.

The College is using a variety of means to deliver content and engage students. These include video recorded lectures, live video discussions, online written discussions, and papers and projects, among others.

“The adjustment has gone very smoothly,” said Dr. Eric Bolger, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “Faculty members jumped on board and revised their approaches to material in order to be effective in a remote learning environment. Reports from students have been very positive.”

Dr. Clara Christian: The College is using a variety of means to deliver content and engage students. (Special to Branson Globe)

Dr. Clara Christian, associate professor of music, teaches one-on-one piano lessons online.

“I meet with my advanced piano students over video chat weekly, in half hour to one-hour sessions,” Christian said. “They position their phones or laptops so I can see their hands. While more subtle details get lost over video, there’s still lots to work on. I sit at a piano so I can demonstrate. At the end of the semester, instead of playing in public recitals for their final assignments, students will submit videos of their performances.”

Christian’s beginning to intermediate level piano students also are learning in a new format.

“For the 40 C of O students enrolled in class piano, I post videos of myself playing their pieces, so they can hear what they sound like,” Christian said. “Almost all of the students have access to their own keyboard or piano. For the five to six students who didn’t have a keyboard, the C of O music department provided keyboards on loan.”

Remote learning has a silver lining, especially for those with performance anxiety.

“The piano students record themselves and submit videos for their class assignments,” Christian said. “The advantage to this is that they can record themselves multiple times, so if something goes wrong, they can delete the video and start over. It helps students who struggle with performance anxiety. I type comments next to their videos, so they can listen back and see where they can improve.”

Junior Andrea Lowry, elementary education major, also found positives in the new learning situation.

Andrea Lowry: Junior Andrea Lowry, elementary education major, found positives in the new learning situation. (Special to Branson Globe)

“A normal day for me looks like waking up at 7:45 a.m. and beginning my schoolwork at least by 8:30 most days,” Lowry said. “Some days have taken eight hours, and some days take three or four hours. The nice thing about the structure of distance learning is that I can choose the time frame for when I would like to get my schoolwork done.”

Lowry’s professors have used a variety of ways to connect with students and keep the spring semester moving forward.

“My professors have done an amazing job at making me feel connected,” Lowry said. “As an education major, my professors have a good hand on a variety of platforms/resources to keep in touch. They have been hosting GoToMeetings™, YouTube videos, weekly newsletters, weekly check-ins via email, and have supplied us with their phone numbers to send them a text if we need a quick response.

“A few positives I have taken away from this transition include getting more time with family, learning to rely on God even more, learning about how to use technology for when I become a teacher, and building strong relationships with professors.”

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