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It was the first day of virtual class, and Dina Higgins was in the driver’s seat in his kitchen home office caused by a pandemic.
The Grand Canyon University The mechanical engineering technology instructor was ready to reveal something about herself as she indulged in the typical first day of school drills in her Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology (UNV 112) course.
Even though face-to-face classes don’t start until September 28, she stuck with day one protocols and mapped out the location of the emergency exit, “If we were in Engineering Building 1,” she said. -she declared to the 29 students of the first year course. Higgins reviewed the policy and class expectations (“No late homework, okay?”), Urged students to register on the Remind phone app, detailed course objectives, and put the spotlight on the program.
And then her big reveal: “I’m a security nerd,” she said, showing off one of the unique features of her class, called “safety minute”. This is where the licensed professional engineer – she started out in the Detroit auto industry – lays down safety information students should know.
Question from today’s Safety Minute: How many people die each year from staircase injuries in the United States?
“I’ll say 500,” said one student.
Another intervened: “2000”.
“All good guesses,” Higgins said, then released a security video that revealed the answer: 1,588.
Higgins’ love of safety comes from his years of working for General Motors and then for TRW designing seat belts and airbags.
Students learned she was a Mesa city councilor when she was met President Barack Obama, and also worked in wastewater management, a stable career, which is not often thought of.
“When I say having fun in sewage, you probably think I’m crazy,” she said with a smile.
While students may have found this information interesting about Higgins, what she found interesting in her first online course of the Pandemic Adjusted Semester was when a student asked her classmates to where they called.
“There was snow falling in Colorado, I think,” Higgins said. “And it was cold in Oregon. A few people from Southern California were right next to each other (they were attending the same high school).
While there was no question of snow in Deborah Haralsonthe systems administration and maintenance class (ITT 121), it was talk about IT requirements.
After the students respond “How much RAM does your computer have?” In an online survey, the IT and Computer / Cyber program manager pointed out that students’ computers need a lot of power to be able to do what needs to be done in the classroom this semester.
“Sixteen gigabytes is the bottom of the barrel,” so those who answered 4 and 8 gigabytes need an upgrade, she said.
She also looked at Padlet and Discord – some of the apps students will need – as well as how to sign up for virtual office hours and how to buy it in the event of a pandemic: a Bluetooth-enabled digital piano that allows him to turn the pages of his music. his iPad by pressing the pedals.
Beyond the usual banter on the first day of school, Haralson has strived to make her classroom engaging and fun, even though she wasn’t physically in the tech building to see her students in person.
Not only was she donning virtual clothes – pink hair flowing through a video filter – but when students were taking assessments or downloading apps, she was filling the downtime with some of her favorite videos, like a rant against the Canon. of Pachelbel in D by the actor / musician Rob Paravonian. Even a dance Christophe walken made his way to the Zoom meeting, courtesy of Fat slim boyThe classic “weapon of choice” video.
“No course I’ve taken at GCU compares to Professor Haralson’s,” said a sophomore cybersecurity student. Alex schaeffer, one of Haralson’s ITT-121 students. “She’s not only smart and knowledgeable, but also fun and witty. There is never a dull moment in her classroom.
Haralson said, “The key is to keep students engaged by getting them to do things, even if it’s polls and surveys. Normally I would do this in class by watching them and their computers and making small adjustments to make sure I got their attention.
“With in-line and mixed components, I have to find different ways to do it. It is definitely an adventure.
Dr Brandon Juárez started her class with a prayer for students who want to become elementary teachers, “knowing this is an unprecedented time that we are all going through”, some who expected to be on campus to maybe take a class online for the first time.
“So I just want to pray for your nerves, pray for the nervous feelings of the first day and just pray that the Lord will send you peace the rest of this day and this week,” said Juarez, assistant professor at the College of Education.
He explained that he grew up in the shadow of Disneyland and can hear the nightly fireworks, but what inspires him now are the Bible verses that urge young adults to do the difference.
“Whatever your age, what an opportunity to set an example for your future students,” he said. “No matter how old you are, you are blessed to be a light to the Lord. “
He asked students to share their video image on Zoom because, as future teachers, body language assessment is important. The students were all called out and nodded eagerly.
“Many of you are in your first class in the education program and may have a fantasy about what it is like to be a classroom teacher,” he said. “We’re going to solve some of those misconceptions you have, but we’ll also look at how you can be a great teacher in the classroom. “
The first day of the semester might have been a little different for Dr Paul Koch and his music students, but that couldn’t stop him and others College of Fine Arts and Production faculty members start on a positive note.
“My overall message today was basically to look at the opportunities we can gain as we all go through this together. I think it went pretty well.
Koch, who launched icebreakers and revised the program, as is usual protocol on day one, was pleasantly surprised by the students’ willingness to engage through Zoom.
“I tried to open it like I would any year,” he said. “I was expecting to have to tell some people to turn on their cameras or get out of bed, but I had no problem with that. All the students were awesome. They were awake, attentive, and ready for class.
It was hardly surprising when Dr Justin McLendon started his Christian Worldview 101 class with a prayer, but what may have surprised some of the freshmen in attendance was the introspection he offered with her.
Some of you may not be Christians, he told them, but he pointed out that we are all human beings and we are all valuable.
McLendon told the students a little about himself – where he lives, his family, his hobbies, his passion for reading and baseball (he is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals). But its main purpose “is to answer as many of your questions as possible.”
Not that none of the questions surprised him.
“This is my sixth year of teaching CWV, so I learned what questions to answer on day one,” he later said. “My students seemed excited about the start of a new semester and they can’t wait to be on campus soon. All things considered, while this was an unusual start due to Zoom, the course started as always.
Tracey Lauterborn It was clearly stated at the beginning of the Introduction to Computer Technology (BIT 200): Class attendance is a must once a week. It is a synchronous learning (always at the same time and in the same place, which for the moment is online), and she wants to interact directly with the students.
When students arrive on campus, they alternate between the classroom and online to allow for proper physical distancing, and that was the big question of the day – how that would be decided.
Even though it was a large group, she was happy with the results.
“It went well,” she said. “They all stayed attentive.
Sophomore IT with a specialization in cybersecurity Garrett ohrenberg couldn’t help but pay attention in Haralson’s ITT 121 class, with polls to take and videos to watch.
He’s already been back to campus (“It was a feeling of coming home,” he said) and was excited to be back in class, even though it was online.
“A lot of my friends that I didn’t know were going to be in my classes and then they just showed up on Zoom – it was really cool to see them again and talk to them.”
Classmate Alex schaeffer added: “Although not in the best of circumstances, it was a great first day overall.”
Lana Sweeten-Shults, Mike Kilen, Rick Vacek, and Ashlee Larrison contributed to this story.
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