Since the suspension of in-person classes in the spring, there has been some uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and whether or not Aggies would step foot on campus this fall. Come July 24, professors will alleviate this uncertainty and make a final decision on their lecturing methods, as the university finalizes the fall 2020 semester schedule.
Since July 6, students have begun to notice changes to their lecture formats, where professors have started to move their classes to an online format rather than face-to-face. With this, several students have noticed scheduling conflicts that include an overlap in online and face-to-face lectures, no time in between two classes and much more.
English junior Symone Charles said she hopes the university will sincerely take students into consideration leading up to making changes to the final schedule.
“I have basically an overlap and I’ve already had a chat with another student that has a genuine class overlap,” Charles said. “They’ll need to add more sections or space out the classes more. Something to help those of us that won’t be able to make it to our classes on time.”
According to communications director for the Office of the Provost Kelly Reynolds, students can expect shifts in their schedule between now and July 24, when the final schedule is posted to student’s Howdy accounts. She urged students to remain in contact with their academic advisors for the time being.
Charles said she is glad the university is stepping up and forging a plan for students, but there are still kinks in the system that need to be addressed.
“I know a lot of people already that have been affected by COVID-19, I’m glad they’re taking a step to prepare and protect students from the worst,” Charles said. “I only wish they’d reduce tuition costs to make up for the lack of in-person amenities we as students pay for.”
Leading up to returning to class on Aug. 19, engineering professor Daniel Ball said he plans for most of his lectures to take place synchronously online as he works to enhance his remote teaching skills.
“When and if possible I still want to teach face-to-face as long as we meet the guidelines provided for doing it safely,” Ball said. “The lectures will be recorded however so we can accommodate students that might have other concerns. I will be working on improving my use of additional teaching tools such as working problems via whiteboard, one note and using the draw function on PPT.”
Although an online format might not be the best learning method for some, Ball said the biggest advantage for students would be to establish a set plan.
“Set aside a regular time each week to view the lecture just like you would if you attended in person,” Ball said. “This applies to both the lectures and homework assignments. Remember what gets scheduled, gets done.”
When it comes to mentally preparing for this uncertain semester ahead, Ball said even with social distancing there is a need for students to not isolate themselves.
“I am sure this is not how students thought their college experience would look,” Ball said. “But everyone is in this boat so let's move forward and figure out ways to make it work. I am in the [College of Engineering] and as engineers our charter is to solve problems, so let's work together and solve this.”
With most on-campus resources also being moved to an online format, students are losing some experiences that come with being unrestricted on campus. Agriculture education professor Kim Dooley said although this might be viewed as a setback to most, times like these require flexibility by all.
“Texas A&M University, not unlike other higher education institutions worldwide, are not making these decisions lightly,” Dooley said. “We all need to remember the Aggie Core Values, especially Excellence, at this time. The faculty want our students to learn effectively and demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities so that they can be successful in the future.”