Snead State Community College Relies on 21 Years of Experience to Make Online Transition Seamless
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Community College System made the decision to safeguard the health and safety of students and employees by shifting all face-to-face classes to a completely online format as of March 16. The faculty at Snead State Community College were able to make the transition by relying on the College’s 21 years of experience in delivering distance education.
The first online classes were offered in 1999, and Snead State has since been expanding its curriculum to become a leader in distance education. The College not only offers hundreds of online courses, but also has programs that allow students to earn Associate degrees all online, include an Associate in Applied Science degree in Applied Business.
“In this time of almost immediate transition, it has been extremely easy for my live classes to make the transition without losing any time or missing any course material,” said Dr. Jonathan Watts, Snead State’s Humanities and Fine Arts Division Director. “When we received word that all our institutions would be moving to an online platform, my response to (President) Dr. (Robert) Exley was, ‘Snead is probably the best prepared college to make this move.’ Snead has been a leader in distance learning and that capability makes this transition much less painful.”
“Most of our students' schedules already included online courses, so they are acquainted with the BlackBoard LMS,” Business Program Director Dr. Meredith Jackson said, speaking of the instructional system the College utilizes for distance learning. “The challenge is getting students to reach out with questions. Unlike in a classroom setting where you can ‘read’ their faces, the online setting makes it difficult to know whether or not the students are understanding the material. Instructors have to reach out to students and try to make that connection.”
Cutting-edge technology has allowed Snead State to address the challenge of student engagement with online classes.
“We use the latest tools and technology to create an experience that is beneficial for students. Our faculty get creative when it comes to interacting with students. They’ve used Zoom conferencing, Facetime, and social media to enhance learning and provide instruction that simulates a face-to-face class as much as possible,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Annette Cederholm. All faculty are doing an exceptional job with moving classes online and have really been creative with their classes to ensure a smooth transition for students as well."
“I teach on-campus and online courses each semester, so my transition to online was very easy. My on-campus students already had access to all of my online content including lecture videos, online video links, chapter slides, and other handouts. All I had to do to move our on-campus class online was add assignments and create a schedule for the students. I also use Zoom web conferencing when needed for one-on-one or group instruction,” said Dr. Jackson. “I have been teaching online courses for nearly 14 years. When I began teaching at Snead State in 2006 we were a leader in online instruction among our fellow community colleges and they have been following our lead ever since.”
“When I began teaching at Snead State Community College in 2003, the challenge was given to me to take a class which had always been taught live and recreate it for a distance learning environment,” said Dr. Watts. “I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to use a program which gave us the ability to record live lectures and put them in a video format. In that format they see the PowerPoint I use in class as well as a capture of me doing the presentation to the live class. I have always felt, that for a student, this was the next best thing to being in the classroom.”
Snead State has used the Blackboard platform as well as the College’s website to communicate with students any updates regarding the College’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). For more information, visit www.snead.edu.