Mississippi instructors have reworked their lesson plans and grading requirements to comply with online distance learning. Andy Harper, Instructional Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi, says his assignments blend well with the online format, but for other professors, it’s not that easy.
“Their classes are bigger. The students are more spread out. It’s more difficult to try to ask students to do anything that’s live or synchronous. And so so you have to kind of figure out what kind of class it is your teaching, how likely it is to convert the stuff that you’re trying to get done in that class to an online format, whether you can at all.”
After professors convert all their materials to online resources, some students still may not have access to it. Sade Turnipseed, Assistant Professor at Mississippi Valley State University, says half of her students don’t have internet access.
“Whether it’s because they don’t have a computer that’s capable of internet on it, or streaming, or to see all of what may be going on. And so it is to some extent really compromising their ability to fully appreciate what’s being offered.”
30 percent of Mississippians don’t have broadband access.
To help bridge the digital divide, Mississippi State University students are allowed to rent computers from the library. The school has extension service locations in every county that will serve as wifi hotspots. Sid Salter is Chief Communications Officer at MSU.
“So we’re doing everything that we can to keep our students on their path. And we know that this was not something they chose, not something they signed up for, so it’s incumbent on us to try to help our students stay on their path, and stay on time and on task.”
The College Board has agreed to allow universities to give students partial refunds or credit for several Spring 2020 expenses, such as room and board, parking and meals.