By John Daniels
With drastic time comes drastic measures, and that is exactly what Bellarmine University and every university in the country have had to take these past five weeks.
With school transitioning to online classes, that means finals will be taken online, too. When reading or hearing online finals for the first time, it may sound like no big deal, but it has been an uphill challenge for some students and faculty.
Senior Brentley Kalata was not as upset about finals being canceled but was upset about school and life being put on hold. He said: “Online school has definitely been more challenging than in-person learning. I am glad that we are not having a standard test for a final in most classes versus a paper, presentation, video, website, etc.”
Kristen O’Toole is a rising senior at Bellarmine. She had a more indifferent outlook on the entire situation. “Classes going online wasn’t too big of a deal for me. I have always been one to enjoy trying new things so I might as well have the same outlook on school,” O’Toole said.
For soon-to-be full-time MBA student Ian Reilly, the feeling of positivity isn’t as strong. Reilly is from Haddonfield, New Jersey, and decided to stay in Louisville during this time.
“I am pretty frustrated that this has affected my senior year of college so greatly,” Reilly said. “Online finals on top of everything else that has happened is just one more headache that stems from this thing.”
Bellarmine University announced the transition to online classes March 17 and had students vacate campus immediately. Professors had less than one week to put together an online lesson plan for each course that was not originally designed to be online.
Dr. Kyle Barnett, a professor in the department of communication, has adapted as well as he could have to moving classes online during this national COVID-19 crisis. Barnett said he has made it his mission to prepare an online final that is the best it can be.
“If it is purely digitized, which I’d say Is likely then I’d have to make sure that the set-up is as close to perfect as it can be. I don’t want a single mistake that then ripped out across the class,” Barnett said.
Although Barnett said he has not had too many difficulties transitioning to online, he also said he recognizes that it’s not an ideal situation. “Many universities as well as businesses had to transform in just a few days. That was the right thing to do, but there are inevitable difficulties,” Barnett said.
While the coronavirus leaves education and businesses in unprecedented times, it is important that students, teachers and professionals continue to do their part to adapt to the situation the world is in.
Bellarmine Provost Dr. Paul Gore has been in charge of leading the university through a successful transition to remote education. He said: “Faculty are always free to select the most suitable form of learning assessment based on their course content and pedagogy. I’m certain that methods varied considerably before COVID-19 (e.g., final exams, papers, presentations, juried performances, or supervisor ratings).”
Gore said faculty are receiving ongoing training and consultation and he said he hopes each faculty member will find a “suitable assessment method given the constraints of remote teaching and assessment technologies.”
“Although we were all hopeful that the pandemic would resolve more quickly, perhaps before the end of the term, it did not,” he said. “We are left with the fact that faculty must conduct their final learning outcome assessment using some form of remote technology.”
Students are often filled with stress and anxiety during finals. With students taking anywhere from 12 to 18 hours of coursework, it can cause some students to feel overwhelmed.
Kalata said he thinks that online finals may reduce some students’ stress levels.
“This may save people from days of studying and stress or it may double it for some students. We are like online school guinea pigs for a lot of teachers and that can play a role in our course grade,” he said.
Although Bellarmine University has decided to move forward with online classes during the summer terms, it is uncertain when students, faculty and staff will return to the campus and normalcy. And even though university officials have said they hope to have everyone back on campus by August, it is all still to be determined by how much the virus continues to spread.