Remote learning transition smooth at LSCO
Last updated 4/7/2020 at Noon
For The Record
Thanks to a ton of bad weather in recent years (think hurricanes and tropical storms), students and faculty at Lamar State College Orange are no strangers to challenging educational experiences.
But with the campus closed until at least the end of May by state and national health protocols, the only face-to-face talks students are having with their teachers are via the internet on computer screens.
“I would much rather be face-to-face with my students, but what we have is close,” says Dal Moreau, a practicing psychologist who has taught psychology at LSCO for 11 years.
The campus is using Blackboard, an educational software system that has been adopted by 75 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities and quite a few public school systems as well.
Blackboard Collaborate is a program much like Zoom that allows for live-time video chats.
“If we had to have another way to do it, this is a great one,” Moreau said. “Blackboard is a great platform for that.”
Amy Moore, public information director at LSCO, reported Tuesday that the transition the school made from on-campus teaching to online has been smooth.
“Remote education is going pretty well,” she said. “Because of all the storms, most of the faculty is used to teaching online. All the faculty able to work online are doing their classes remotely and pretty much have not skipped a beat.
“Classes like art and hands-on workforce classes are not able to meet. We’re not able to let those students on campus right now. The plan is to let them finish when we can safely allow them on campus.”
Henry Ramsey, a fourth-year process technology instructor, is one teacher who was familiar with online teaching. But he is glad the decision was made to give LSCO teachers the week after spring break to expand their toolbox.
“I use Blackboard and I had gone through training on Collaborate before this,” Ramsey said.
“With this happening, they offered a lot more training on how to use it, how to get out information. It changes the testing, going from a closed-book, in-front-of-you situation to a take-home, open-book.
“They gave us help on setting it up. Even now, ‘Who needs a headset? A webcam? Who needs a computer?’”
Not all pf Ramsey’s students have the internet.
“I’ve got one student that doesn’t have an internet connection, so I’ve been mailing assignments to them on paper,” he said.
Ramsey said he’d asked his students to meet him on Blackboard Collaborate at the same time as their classes met at the school.
“Lamar Orange prides itself on being face to face,” he said. “My attendance online is down from what it was face-to-face, but I’m reaching out to the ones that haven’t been showing up.”
By contrast, Moreau’s students, numbering from 17 in one section to as many as 32 in another, have stuck with his classes.
His lessons are available 24-7.
“A good majority of my students work and they’re using the time they used to come to class to make some money,” Moreau said.
“I’ve tried to make mine mimic an online class. It’s available 24 hours a day. They can work at 2 in the morning if they want to.”
The psychologist says the changeover from classroom teaching was tough.
“Yeah, man, I’ve worked my tail off the last couple of weeks, trying to learn the program, how to use it. But now that I’ve learned it and have a lot of content, it’ll be like being in the classroom -- without my corny jokes.
“My confidence level in being able to finish out the semester and do a quality job, it’s pretty high. I think we can give them a quality product.”
Meanwhile, Moore is one of the few LSCO employees to still goes to her on-campus office.
“There’s probably 10 people on campus, total,” she said. “It is weird coming to work at an empty campus. It’s worse that during the summer on a Friday.”