Media departments reflect on the difficulties they faced transitioning online


Kaylee Stout

Senior, Elio Lago is using his laptop at the Ablah Library while practicing social distancing. Certain computers in the library have signage that prohibits students from working side by side with each other.

It’s been a little over six months since media departments across the country had to race to transition all classes online. With little time to prepare, those departments had to move quickly and efficiently to provide for students. 

The pandemic shifted life to online in a matter of weeks. There were a lot of aspects to consider when moving classes online. Many of these things began with media resources and the Information Technology Services (ITS) department, among others. 

The Media Resources department was responsible for moving classes online, providing resources for both students and instructors. The ITS department focused on providing the devices and technology needed to students and faculty. 

“Credit goes to our team. When they asked our department, will we be able to adapt and make this transition, we thankfully had been preparing for a couple weeks with materials we could build off of when we transitioned to online classes,” John Jones, Director of Media Resources said. 

To aid instructors, video services were provided to record lectures in a socially distanced environment to provide better quality. 

“If a member of faculty felt uncomfortable or wanted better quality we wanted to make sure that was available,” John Jones, Director of Media Resources said. 

It only took two days for Carolyn Speer, manager of Instructional Design and Access, to realize that going online was inevitable.

Speer was speaking to a class back in early March. During the first session, she warned classes to prepare for the possibility of online classes. Two days later during the second session she told classes that going completely online was not just an option anymore. 

“It’s all about how we can solve tomorrow’s problems today,” Speers said. “It has been hurdles all the way downhill.”

In the spring, the transition to online was quick and left a lot of looming questions. Students were quick to express concerns about lab classes, hands-on classes and classes that seemed impossible to do online. The Media Resources department had to come up with solutions to these concerns and come up with a plan to adapt to the fall semester. 

The instructional design department was responsible for offering professors workshops on how to conduct a class online and maneuver through online lessons. Templates were made for professors to use to build their classes online on blackboard as well. 

“We felt it was very important the professors still felt ownership over their class. If the professors were confident and still having fun despite everything, that would translate to the students as well,” Speers said. 

Campus media services were unable to manage much in the spring and summer but have been able to provide more support transitioning into the fall semester. The campus media services have maintained zoom licensing for security protection in online classrooms. 

“I think if I could go back and do things differently I would have sought out more people to see what they were doing, Jessica Walles, Business manager in ITS said. “Keeping track of the devices we were providing held us back, like, things needed to be labeled and inventory needed to take place for everything.” 

The ITS department’s priority during the transition to online was providing loaner devices for those who needed it. They had to contact vendors to figure out the logistics of providing chrome books or some kind of technology device to students and faculty that did not have one. 

“What I really learned from all of this is how dedicated the tech staff is, when we are thrown into a situation like this, how we are able to adapt and keep the campus up and running,” Shadi Tafaroji, director of Client Services said. 

To learn more, listen to this week’s episode of The Sunflower News Podcast.

Correction: when this story was originally published, Jessica Walles’ name incorrectly put as “Jennifer”. It has since then been corrected.