Faculty focused on new methods, teamwork in delivering online for students

MSU Texas embraces online learning

Faculty focused on new methods, teamwork in delivering online for students

The Midwestern State University faculty has given plenty of lectures about a changing world.

But the professors and deans had a chance to see the change in real-time over the past few weeks as they prepared to change to an online/remote format for the duration of the spring semester and the first summer term. (See the Coronavirus Updates at msutexas.edu)

And that ongoing to change is bringing out a spirit of teamwork, unity, and creativity to face this challenge. And the faculty has found great allies in MSU Information Technology and Distance Education.   

"I think none of this transition would be possible without the offices we had in place with the Distance Education office and the IT office and technology,” said Margaret Brown Marsden, Dean of the College of Science & Mathematics. “They reached out to us in anticipation of our needs and told us what they had available for us, and that’s been helpful.”

Chemistry professor Candice Fulton was one of the faculty members who felt like it was best to jump right in. “A challenge focuses my attention. We are all in close contact as a department, we always have been. These are great people, so I am not worried that our students will get the very best this department can offer.”

Brown Marsden has given training sessions to faculty and offered to help with software. She, along with all university deans, teach classes. Believing that experience and as well as her understanding from teaching online classes has benefitted her in helping others make this transition. She’s happy to share online teaching tips or help each professor find the software they need.

“I’m glad that I teach classes, and I’ve taught online,” Brown Marsden said. She said when trying to learn a new program or app, she tries to “remember the big picture.” 

KAUZ: MSU Texas STEM classes working together for online learning

Brown Marsden is excited about providing students the opportunity to continue their courses. And this new method of learning got underway when classes resumed online March 25. 

MSU Texas President Dr. Suzanne Shipley shared a video message as online classes resumed. 

Dr. Isaac Christiansen
Dr. Isaac Christiansen sets up his home office.




A positive attitude for embracing change

CANDICE FULTON, Assistant Professor 

It has been a spring unlike any Candice Fulton has experienced in education. But with the changes brought on by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), she embraced that change. Values she’s always believed in, such as teamwork, attitude, and attacking a challenge head-on, have made her transition to online teaching smoother.

“Attitude is everything, and the students are already worried enough, Fulton said. “A challenge also focuses my attention.”

The plans for the chemistry professor include video labs for students to watch, sending students data points to calculate, and being available for questions. “I will check on my students - my students have always had my number - so I will just check on them more.”

And with this challenge, having a “super tech-savvy 16-year-old” at home was also beneficial for Fulton, who has also noticed a great team atmosphere on the MSU Texas campus.

“My TAs and SI’s are ready for whatever they can do,” Fulton said. “We are all deciding what will work for our labs and lectures. I feel like me being positive, and a cheerleader is just as important right now as being a competent educator. I hope to be all of these things to them in the coming weeks. I think this will continue to evolve as we all get a handle on it as time goes and rules intensify and change. We are all in close contact with each other as a department, we always have been. These are great people, so I am not worried that our students will get the very best this department can offer. I think most departments will be that way, and that’s why I love this university. We care about each other, teaching, and our students.”



Finding the key is creativity

JASON BLY, Assistant Professor of Art, Painting and Drawing 

Jason Bly, Assistant Professor of Art, Painting and Drawing at MSU Texas, said in the week before spring break the art department met to discuss plans and ideas. And they gathered feedback from students, helping them craft a way forward. 

“In the art studio classes, working one-on-one is essential in both providing instruction to students and answering questions about their individual works,” Bly said. “I hope to keep this communication active through D2L discussion forums where students will post progression images of their artworks and the other students can make comments and share ideas. I can also draw on top of their posted images using an iPad to give further instruction as I comment.” 

Students will post twice per week, which Bly points out is the same as attending class before working online. “In a regular semester, I generally give live demos of techniques and materials. Instead, I am posting images and videos of those same demos,” he said. 

This is not proving to be a regular semester, but Bly noted it’s a great time for creativity. “Art students rely heavily on the hardware present in the rooms, so modifications of projects are in place to accommodate for this — size of projects, materials used, deadlines, etc. It allows both faculty and students to be extra creative through these limitations.