An apple for the teacher (online) on the 1st day of class
GCU News Desk
It was the first day of virtual class, and Dina Higgins was in the driver’s seat in his pandemic-induced kitchen home office.
the Grand Canyon University The Mechanical Engineering Technology Instructor was ready to reveal something about herself as she maneuvered through typical first day of school exercises in her Science, Engineering and Technology (UNV 112) Success Course.
Even though in-person classes don’t start until September 28, she stuck to day one protocols and mapped out the location of the emergency exit, “if we were in Engineering Building 1,” she said. – she declared to the 29 students of the first year course. Higgins reviewed class policy and expectations (“No late homework, okay?”), encouraged students to sign up on the Remind phone app, detailed course objectives, and put emphasis on the program.
And then her big reveal: “I’m a safety nerd,” she said while introducing one of her class’s unique features, called “Safety Minute.” This is where the licensed professional engineer — she got her start in Detroit’s auto industry — drops safety information students should know.
Today’s Safety Minute Question: How many people die each year from stair-related injuries in the United States?
“I’ll say 500,” said one student.
Another threw: “2,000”.
“All good guesses,” Higgins said, then played a security video that revealed the answer: 1,588.
Higgins’ love of safety comes from his years working for General Motors and then TRW designing seat belts and airbags.
The students learned that she was an advisor to Mesa, once they met President Barack Obama, and also worked in wastewater management, a stable and little-considered career.
“When I say sewage fun, you probably think I’m crazy,” she said with a smile.
While students may have found this information about Higgins interesting, what she found interesting about her first online course of the pandemic-adjusted semester was when a student asked her classmates where they were calling.
“There was snow falling in Colorado, I think,” Higgins said. “And it was cold in Oregon. A few people from Southern California were just down the street from each other (they went to the same high school).
While there was no question of snow in Deborah Haralsonfrom the Systems Administration and Maintenance (ITT 121) class, there are has been talk about IT requirements.
After students answer “How much RAM does your computer have?” in an online survey, the faculty manager for computer science and computing/cyber programs pointed out that student computers needed a lot of power to be able to do what needed to be done in class this semester.
“Sixteen gigabytes is rock bottom,” so those who answered 4 and 8 gigabytes need an upgrade, she said.
She also delved into Padlet and Discord — some of the apps students will need — as well as how to sign up for virtual office hours and her pandemic purchase: a Bluetooth-enabled digital piano that lets her turn the pages of his music on his iPad by simply pressing the pedals.
Beyond the usual first-day-of-school banter, Haralson went out of her way to make her class engaging and fun, even if she wasn’t physically in the tech building to see her students in person.
Not only did she put on virtual duds — flowing pink hair thanks to a video filter — but when students took assessments or downloaded apps, she filled the downtime with some of her favorite videos, like a rant against the Canon in D of Pachelbel by the actor / musician Rob Paravonian. even a dance Christopher Walken sashayed his way into the Zoom meeting, courtesy of fat thin boyfrom the classic “Weapon of Choice” video.
“No course I’ve taken at GCU compares to Professor Haralson’s,” said the second cybersecurity student. Alex Schaeffer, one of Haralson’s ITT-121 students. “She’s not only smart and knowledgeable, but fun and witty. There’s never a dull moment in her class.
Haralson said, “The key is to keep students engaged by having them do things, even if it’s polls and surveys. Normally I would do this in class by watching them and their computers and making small adjustments to ensure I have their attention.
“With online and mixed components, I have to find different ways to do it. It’s definitely an adventure.
Dr. Brandon Juarez began his class with a prayer for students who want to be primary school teachers, “knowing that this is an unprecedented time we are all going through”, with some who expected to be on campus perhaps taking a class in line for the first time.
“So I just want to pray for your nerves, pray for the nervous feelings from day one, and just pray that the Lord send you peace for the rest of this day and this week,” said Juarez, an assistant professor at the College of Education.
He shared that he grew up in the shadow of Disneyland and could hear the nightly fireworks, but what inspires him now are Bible verses that urge young adults to make a difference.
“Whatever your age, what an opportunity to set an example for your future students,” he said. “Whatever your age, you are blessed to be a light to the Lord.”
He asked the students to share their video image on Zoom because, as future teachers, assessing body language is important. The students were all connected and nodding their heads impatiently.
“Many of you are in your first class in the education program and may have a fantasy about what it’s like to be a teacher,” he said. “We’re going to address some of those misconceptions you have, but also look at how you can be a great teacher.”
The first day of the semester may have looked a little different for Dr. Paul Koch and his music students, but that couldn’t stop him and others College of Fine Arts and Production faculty members to start on a positive note.
“My overall message today was basically to look at the opportunities that we can gain as we all go through this together. I think it went pretty well.”
Koch, who threw icebreakers and reviewed the program, as is usual protocol on the first day, was pleasantly surprised by the students’ willingness to engage via Zoom.
“I tried to open it up like I would any year,” he said. “I expected that I would have to tell some people to turn on their camera or get out of bed, but I had no problem with that. All the students were awesome. They were awake, attentive and ready for class.
It was hardly surprising when Dr Justin McLendon began his Christian Worldview 101 course with a prayer, but what might have surprised some of the freshmen in attendance was the introspection he offered with it.
Some of you may not be Christians, he told them, but he emphasized that we are all human beings and we all have value.
McLendon told the students a bit about himself — where he lives, a bit about his family, his hobbies, his passion for reading and baseball (he’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan). But its main objective “is to answer as many questions as possible”.
Not that any of the questions surprised him.
“This is my sixth year teaching at CWV, so I learned what questions to answer on day one,” he later said. “My students seemed excited about the start of a new semester, and they are looking forward to being on campus soon. All things considered, although it was an unusual start due to Zoom, the class started as always.
Tracey Lauterborn clearly indicated at the beginning of the introduction to computer technology (BIT 200): Attendance is essential in class once a week. It’s synchronous learning (always at the same time and place, which for now is online), and she wants to interact directly with the students.
As students enter campus, they will alternate between classroom and online to make proper physical distancing possible, and that was the big question of the day – how that would be decided.
Even though it was a large group, she was happy with the results.
“It went well,” she said. “They all remained attentive.”
Sophomore IT with a major cybersecurity focus Garrett Ohrenberg couldn’t help but pay attention in Haralson’s ITT 121 class, with polls to do and videos to watch.
He has already returned to campus (“It was a homecoming feeling,” he said) and was excited to return to class, even though it was online.
“A lot of my friends that I didn’t know were going to be in my classes and then they just showed up on Zoom – it was really cool seeing them again and talking with them.”
Classmate Alex Schaeffer added: “Although not in the best of circumstances, it was a great first day overall.”
Lana Sweeten-Shults, Mike Kilen, Rick Vacek and Ashlee Larrison contributed to this story.
TOS today: The first day of school makes the difference
TOS today: Students on campus will be well anchored online
TOS today: The GCU program has new well-prepared students for the fall