Wednesday, October 28, 2020

PSU to begin distance learning after spring break

Plattsburgh State announced classes will move online after spring break after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s briefing on the coronavirus in Albany Wednesday.  

PSU received guidance from SUNY and will follow the rest of the SUNY system in moving classes online. 

PSU’s campus will remain open for the rest of the semester. Students can choose to move out early by officially checking out through campus housing, but students will not be offered a refund for the cost of the room if they leave early, according to an email sent to deFredenburgh Hall residents by the hall’s director, Maria Barinova. 

Moving classes online can present challenges for professors. For some majors that depend on labs, outside classes or physical submissions, it can be more difficult. 

EXPEDITIONARY STUDIES

Some of EXP’s courses depend on outside classes. Changing its curriculum to online presents challenges. 

EXP Chair Jerry Isaak said the major is currently offering a few classes in expedition planning. He said students can continue to plan expeditions online, and then they could potentially go on those expeditions at a later date, although there’s no set plan for that as of now.  

For field-based courses that have class off-campus, Isaak said the EXP major will have to cancel them.  

Two trips for students were originally planned for the Seattle area and also Idaho over spring break. Then the major changed those plans to go to Quebec instead until EXP was told out-of-country travel for classes was canceled. It then looked at the possibility of New Hampshire, but that all ended after Cuomo’s briefing Wednesday.

“To be honest, we’re not, at this point, sure how we’re going to make it up. We had only a few hours to discuss it,” Isaak said. 

Isaak said it’s likely that EXP will make up the courses next academic year, although he acknowledges how the cancelations will affect graduating seniors.  

“Of course, we’re working hard to support our students, especially those who are closer to graduation,” he said. “We have more flexibility with students who are freshmen and sophomores.”  

He said the major will look at adding extra sections and also review course and graduation requirements to support students near graduation. 

Travel classes have fees students pay that range from $30 to $400. Isaak said the EXP major is working with students to help them get refunds for flights and other travel expenses not included in the fee.  

“It’s a challenge and hardship for everybody,” he said, “and we’re trying to do our best to support our students through it.”

“We’ve been scrambling to try to work on our plan B and C and even D now.” 

Isaak hopes students are patient with their professors as they continue to find methods to support them on short notice. 

“It’s extremely fluid. Most of it, virtually all of it, is completely out of our hands, being dictated by not even at campus-level but by the SUNY system,” he said. “In every meeting I’ve been to on campus, administrators and faculty and staff are considering how we can best support our students to shield them from different changes and challenges we’ll experience.” 

ART B.F.A.

Some art classes require students to hand in physical work. Moving online could mean students would send in photos of their assignments from home. But some students use the studios in the Myers Fine Arts Building to work on assignments that require a lot of space. 

Like assignments for Introduction to Printmaking, where students create stretch canvases. 

Chloe Murasso, a senior B.F.A art major who takes Intro to Printmaking and Painting VII, said she’s unsure how her classes will move forward online. 

“It’s going to be a whole 180 around what we’ve been doing,” Murasso said. “I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to continue.” 

She said her professors have been giving her some insight on how classes might run, but nothing is set yet. 

As a senior, Murasso didn’t take the news well. She didn’t want her time at PSU to end like this.  

“I’m devastated. It feels like my senior year, my final moments at Plattsburgh, have been taken from me,” she said. “Like the rug has been pulled out from under me. It just does not feel like it’s supposed to end this way.” 

Art B.F.A majors have showcases at the end of the year for graduating seniors during a reception, where students present the pieces they’ve worked on all throughout college with professors, friends and family in attendance. This year’s reception was supposed to be April 4, but that is now in question.  

“It’s an incredibly special moment for every BFA senior, and it might not be happening,” Murasso said.  

Murasso plans on staying on campus after spring break because of her off-campus lease and job. As a senior, she’d like to get information on graduation sooner rather than later. 

“All the seniors are in the dark on how the end of their semester is going to go. Everybody is in the dark about graduation itself,” Murasso said. “We’ve been asking ourselves, ‘Are we going to walk?’ ‘What’s graduation going to look like?’ ‘Are we going to be able to celebrate it the same way?’ It’s just really traumatic honestly.” 

CHEMISTRY 

LITS has been helping faculty to transition online. 

The chemistry department alongside others have been talking about the possibility of transitioning classes online for about a week. An email from the provost Tuesday solidified that direction more, the Chair of Chemistry Edward Miller said. 

 The chemistry department started to meet Wednesday to discuss techniques to use for online classes. All courses in the chemistry major are currently in-person.  

Miller said PSU’s Library and Information Technology Services have been assisting faculty in how to teach remotely and set up zoom meetings.  He also said a faculty member who has experience taking an in-person class online for nursing majors has been helpful in sharing techniques. 

Classes with labs, Miller said, could be challenging to move online. The major is currently considering faculty recording themselves conducting experiments with handouts students could use to follow along. Conducting  dry labs from home, which would give students data for them to manipulate as if students did experiment themselves, is also in consideration. 

As far as how the transition to online will affect chemistry students, Miller is unsure. 

“[It’s] hard to say,” Miller said. “Some people do better online than face-to-face and vice versa. Someone who is maybe shy in class and doesn’t express opinions as much sometimes does much better online.” 

For the rest of the semester to be successful, Miller had two things in mind. 

“One is communication. People need to be communicated about what is going on,” Miller said. “The second thing is it’s really going to take discipline on the students’ part. I think it’s easier to ignore an assignment online rather than someone who is face to face with you.”

Email Fernando Alba at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com


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