The faculty and staff at USC-Salkehatchie are hard at work preparing to keep their classes going amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
Two weeks ago, the University of South Carolina system announced that spring break would be extended for one week and then all classes would transition to an online format from March 23 until at least April 3. Subsequently, USC announced that the remainder of the spring semester will be in the online format.
The transition presents unique challenges. Some rural students in Salkehatchie’s service area do not have home internet and campus is closed, so faculty are getting creative and collaborating to keep teaching and reaching students wherever they are located.
Assistant professor of history David W. Dangerfield created a Facebook group and recorded content for YouTube in order to keep his students collaborating and learning. “A smart phone is all they need to do 90% of our classwork,” Dangerfield explained. “Most of us are engaged with social media all of the time, so I moved my classes to a Facebook group — directly to my students’ smartphones.”
Most of USC-Salkehatchie’s faculty are no strangers to online teaching, with the campus offering a number of University of South Carolina bachelor’s degrees online through their Palmetto College program. Still, completely transitioning all of their classes to online format is a challenge in the middle of the busy semester, but several teachers say they are taking it in stride.
Justin Mogilski, an assistant professor of psychology, views the challenge as an opportunity to sharpen his teaching and tech skills. Mogilski said he is using new software to “create social experiences during a time when both we and our students will probably feel a bit more isolated.” With the new tools that Mogilski is employing, he said that when classes return to normal “we will all be better” teachers and students.
Likewise, assistant professor of English Kirsten Iden remarked that she has been “struck by the resilience” among both the faculty and students. Iden is one of many faculty and staff members who have offered to help with materials and tech advice for colleagues who might have less experience with online instruction. As Dangerfield put it, “our campus strength is that we are a dedicated community. We are pulling through this as a team.”
USC-Salkehatchie has campuses in Walterboro and Allendale and serves Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, and Hampton Counties.
For more information on the campuses and the response to the coronavirus, please visit www.sc.edu/Salkehatchie