Rust students transition to virtual learning

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rust College students were forced to leave campus and complete the remainder of their spring semester courses online.

On March 16, Rust College students were informed they had until 5 p.m. March 18 to move all their belongings offcampus and go home to protect students and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Most other institutions of higher learning across the country did the same, sending students home and going to distance learning. For many Rust students, the sound of an early vacation seemed to be a wonderful thing. When students realized that they were not done with classes, their excitement quickly toned down.

Some students are having technical issues with the online Blackboard software used to keep track of their assignments and attendance.

Other students, like senior English major Terence Hampton, are finding difficulty in downloading all of the required software to complete his senior thesis.

Dr. Debayo Moyo, the Blackboard administrator at the college, said the resource has enabled successful implementation of the transition to online learning for the faculty and students.

"Transitioning after college is never the easiest thing to do, but before COVID-19, I had time to figure it out," said Malisha Donald, Miss Rust College 2019-2020 and a senior majoring in education.

The transition of online classes has Donald concerned.

"Personally speaking, I have never taken an online course and it seems like the hardest thing to do," she said.

Education majors at Rust College are required to perform student teaching at a school in the Holly Springs area. Because of school closure, Donald and other future educators are worried about how they will complete their degree requirements.

Other concerns from students include miscommunication with their professors and the desire for face-to-face classroom interaction.

Other students are struggling to find the discipline to stay focused on their schoolwork and not be tempted to surf the web.

Not all students are having difficulty adjusting to the new online courses.

In fact, Melvin Carey, a senior mass communications major, admits the COVID-19 pandemic has forced him to "cut back" on his social life.

Darian Stevenson, a senior biology major, said he's having technical issues, but overall, "I'm just ready to graduate."

When asked through a post on Facebook about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their college experience, the seniors' main concern is graduation.

"It has made my senior year terrible," said Kassandra Porter, a graduating senior majoring in social work. "I'm basically concerned about graduation and if there will be a ceremony."

Hampton hopes graduation is postponed to a later date.

"With the Coronavirus spreading the way it is, there shouldn't be that many people in one place so soon," he said.

Sharron Goodman-Hill, a radio broadcasting professor, said the transition hasn't been the smoothest.

"One of the most pressing issues is that most of the internet systems seem to be overwhelmed with so much activity since all schools have gone online," she said.

This is the third week of online classes for Rust College students and professors. Though there are still some difficulties adjusting, Moyo suggests the college consider offering online courses in their current degree programs in the near future.

As of now, Rust College President Dr. David L. Beckley plans for graduating seniors to return to campus on April 24 to participate in annual commencement activities on April 26.

However, President Donald Trump has extended the social distancing deadline to April 30, so Rust College seniors may have their degrees sent by mail.

Holly Springs South Reporter

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