Georgia Southern Moves More Than 5,000 Classes Online, Professors Offer Creative Solutions for Remote Learning

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

As Georgia Southern University moved more than 5,000 classes online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the students who started back to classes today discovered professors who are engaging students with creative solutions for remote learning during unprecedented times.

“These are units that don’t traditionally go online,” stated Dustin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor of literature, provost faculty fellow and appointed online transition coordinator for the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs. “This is where we are being most creative moving remotely.”

Janel Smith, Ed.D., director of the B.S.Ed. and MAT Middle Grades and Secondary Education programs, is using the current news and media coverage to help students learn about media literacy as well as mathematical education. In her math methods course, Smith’s students report on statistics and numerical data they see on their social media and news platforms to discuss perceptions and misperceptions of how data can be used.

“They may see news outlets discussing percentages, but that number misrepresents the facts because it doesn’t include proportions and time,” said Smith. “It is yet another way to teach students critical thinking skills and life applications of mathematics.”

Smith will also have students research the wraparound services that are available to the regional school districts.

“This is an effective way to remind students that as a teacher, the school doesn’t close when the building is closed,” she said. “There are still schools delivering meals and services to students while the physical school building is not open to students.”

Kathleen Crawford, Ed.D., assistant professor of elementary education, is allowing students to use social media apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter for their coursework.

“These mediums may not be traditional education platforms, but they are platforms which students are comfortable and familiar with,” she stated. “Right now, comfort is important to students, so why not combine the two and have them learn with technology and mediums they are comfortable with?”

Dean Cummings, Ph.D., assistant professor of multimedia film and production, has readapted his production courses, normally taught in lab settings, with the use of Folio, Georgia Southern’s innovative virtual classroom, and tools like EdPuzzles, which allows students to examine different types of multi-camera productions, including newscasts, films, reality TV and sports, in interactive video lessons. In his converged news production class, students will use their phones and free software instead of traditional cameras for online classwork, while Facebook and Instagram pages will host the student’s live newscasts and promos.  

The HBO documentary, “Nine Innings from Ground Zero,” which follows the 2001 World Series one month after 9/11, will, Cummings hopes, help students understand more than just technical elements in his sports production class.

“It was another time when everything stopped and we healed,” he said. “I think it is important for them to see the documentary. They were very young when 9/11 occurred, and they need to be reminded that this country has been through tough times, plus they need to know the history of the event. We can’t forget. I want them to watch for technical reasons, and spend time with their emotions.”