The future of online courses
Since the start of COVID-19, many professors have taught online and some still do. The University of Dallas is committed to trying to provide a unique in-person experience for students while meeting the needs of its faculty. At this time, due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the future of online courses is unknown.
President Jonathan Sanford said: “What I’m formulating is how to prioritize the good of human flourishing through in-person classes and how to do it in a way that allows us to not interrupt it. in the future.”
Online classes aren’t all that new to UD, with a few taking place even before COVID-19 hit. The Dean of Constantin College of Liberal Arts, Dr Philip Harold, said: “Online and hybrid courses have been offered extensively and successfully at UD, and at Constantin College online courses have been developed and run before the coronavirus pandemic to provide flexibility for students, for example as summer course offerings.
This 2021-22 academic year has been pretty normal for the most part. However, there are still a few courses that have remained online.
Since there is always a risk factor for some employees, offering virtual classes has been a way to accommodate these people. Harold said, “Online courses have allowed us to balance our responsibility for the health and safety of our entire University community and to provide reasonable accommodations to employees at medical risk.”
One of the professors still online is Dr. Gilbert Garza, associate professor of psychology. Garza, like most professors, went online in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. He remains online due to a medical issue.
“I got housing for the 2021-22 academic year,” Garza said. “As it stands, my housing ends at the end of this semester.”
The home buying process has become more formal than it was in 2020. Garza said, “In the fall of 21 [Constantin College] moved to a more formal process, which meant people had to make a formal request through HR and then, depending on the nature of their accommodation request, provide documentation. In my case, it was a medical vulnerability, a pre-existing medical condition.
The future of online courses is uncertain. Right now, the modus operandi is that if COVID-19 remains a threat, accommodations will most likely be offered, according to Harold.
Garza plans to resume in-person instruction next school year. He said: “I plan to be in the field with, in reserve, the idea that I could switch to online if it becomes necessary and is made available.”
Options for teachers with medical issues have been in-person, hidden classes, or online classes. Garza prefers the latter, saying he used to say, “What would you rather have as a meeting with me: something like [Zoom] which admittedly is deficient in the sense that we’re not in person, but you can see my face and I can see yours, or would we rather be outside at least six feet apart, wearing a mask and yelling at each other?”
There’s something about in-person, unmasked classes that really can’t be replicated. “It’s been over two years now since I’ve been in a classroom and I miss it, I really miss it,” Garza said.
Online classes should continue for summer school as it is easier for students residing outside of the Dallas area. Harold said: “We will also be able to use online courses to offer more courses this summer than not.”
While the future of the next academic year is uncertain, UD’s message is not. Harold said, “We remain, as President Sanford has emphasized, fully committed to providing a unique in-person learning experience.”