Hybrid and Remote Learning Q&A with Professor Morrissette

By Bay State College on August 25, 2020

With this year's coronavirus outbreak, there are many uncertainties and challenges with worldwide impact. We understand Bay State College students and parents may have lots of questions about hybrid and virtual learning. We spoke with Professor William Morrissette, department chair of the Criminal Justice program, for a Q&A session to address remote teaching and what students can expect for the semester ahead.

How are you teaching and structuring your program remotely?

Bay State College utilizes Microsoft Teams to teach virtually for the majority of our classes for the Fall semester. This platform allows for virtual video conferencing, screen sharing sessions, and allows us to have live interactions between the students and instructor. In some cases where classes may involve using certain tools or equipment, there are exceptions where instructors may teach in person (hybrid format) since this will greatly enhance the students' learning experience. 

How is Bay State College helping faculty that are technically challenged? 

Our college has held various faculty development training, and we’re also working one-on-one with faculty members and training them individually in whichever areas they need more help with. In some cases, we would be setting them up in an on-campus facility where they will be teaching from a classroom to students learning remotely. Being in the classrooms ensures the instructors will have all the tools necessary to operate and record their lessons, and give them easy access to technical support if needed.

Do students need to attend classes at specific times or are the courses prerecorded?

It varies from class to class. Scheduled, on-ground (hybrid) classes will be taught at a specified time. But instructors will also have the ability in Microsoft Teams to record the lecture and post it later on so that any students who are not able to attend the class during the specific time is at least able to get a feel for what happened in that class. In other cases, where students are taking fully structured online courses, those lectures will always be prerecorded, and students can choose when to watch it. 

Do you have any tips and advice for students learning remotely?

If lectures are conducted live virtually, students should take the advantage to engage and interact with their instructors and fellow classmates. This interaction is so valuable as it helps to keep students motivated and stay on top of their work. It is important to keep in mind that students can also use the same tools for scheduling office hours or have one-on-one communications with their instructors, so students should really try and make use of virtual resources as much as possible. If students ever need help with accessing a laptop or internet connection, they can get in touch with our Department of Student Services for assistance. 

If a student needs academic guidance or other support, what’s the quickest way to reach out? 

Depending on the specific issue, the quickest way for students to reach out for academic guidance and support is to connect with their instructor or advisor and state what they need. If it is a technical issue, students can email the IT department and copy their instructor in the email so that they will know that the student needs support or assistance. Keep in mind that we also have tutoring services available. Students can contact BSC’s Department of Student Services for more information.

Bay State College uses Canvas as our online learning platform. How does Canvas work?

Canvas is a very flexible platform designed for remote learning. Instructors will be able to upload everything from recorded lectures, visuals, videos, audio recordings, to links of readings and articles. Depending on the course, students can find course activities, quizzes, assignments, and external resources in Canvas. A function I love using in Canvas is the ability to run and integrate closed captioning to a video or recording, which can help students to better follow the lecture. Students are also able to pause, backtrack, fast forward recordings so that they can relisten and reference the recorded lectures. 

Are the courses or assignments on Canvas interactive? 

The courses in Canvas learning are interactive to a certain extent. For instance, certain courses contain interactive blog discussions. However, the challenge is that it generally runs over seven days, so we have students coming in and out of these discussions, which can be difficult to get very dynamic exchanges and continuous conversations since these interactions are so spread out. Therefore, I find conducting virtual classes, and having all the students being in the same place at the same time creates a more dynamic experience and better interactions.

How are exams monitored virtually?

Exams are monitored differently depending on the program and specific requirements for the course. For example, certain exams for the Criminal Justice program are open-book exams that do not require monitoring. In other cases, the health programs may use software that allows for video monitoring and some may monitor exams differently. In some cases, exam formats can vary from multiple-choice, fill in the blank, to written responses. Exams will be timed such that it will require students to study and prepare to have that knowledge memorized ahead of time.