REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - While many schools finished its spring semester online and are on break until fall, Brigham Young University- Idaho, who runs on a track system, began its spring semester during the pandemic.
“We've done a lot of discussions just trying to help faculty have forums where they can share what's working, what's not working for them when it comes to Zoom and just in general,” director of learning innovation and technology David Ashby said.
Professors are using Microsoft, Google apps and Zoom to help their students succeed in the new learning format, according to Ashby.
“We're seeing really great things come out of our faculty. There's some really good energy and excitement to try new things. I think we're even seeing some teachers rekindle their love for teaching because they're being forced to like really think about their objectives for their lessons and do them in new ways, but still get students to learn the things that they want them to learn,” Ashby said.
Previously, BYU-Idaho has offered many courses online for their students, but usually, they typically were never in a live setting. Still, Ashby said, the previous online courses helped as a starting block to create the full live online method.
“What we've really been able to do is use the activities that were designed to some of those online classes and bring those in. But implement more live lectures and live group activities and more interaction between faculty and students that they may typically not get in an online class,” Ashby said.
Plans for fall semester are still being discussed. Ashby said they’re currently doing a lot of research projects to find out what works and what doesn’t incase they ever have to go full online again.
“What we're hoping as a university is that we'll learn things this semester, we'll have good data," Ashby said. "We've actually got a lot of research projects going on right now to help us find what are the quality practices that we can adopt and spread throughout campus so that if we ever have to go through this again we know how to do it well.”
Ashby said instead of adding new tools for the professors in future semesters, they’re going to help their professors get better using the tools they already have.
"Spirits are high. It's not quite the scenario that most people want to go with. I think some teachers feel like they're teaching with one hand tied behind their back in many cases, but it's just fun to see teachers you know boil their lessons down to real good teaching and learning and use the data that's out there the research that's out there and find ways to make every one of their lessons work,” Ashby said.
While many classes were able to adapt to online, Ashby said not all courses were able to be offered this spring semester.