Resources for a digital classroom

Photo by Jo Tabacek

With Lewis & Clark’s recent shift to online classes, the school’s digital resources are becoming more vital than ever. LC’s online classes are to take place largely over Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other online platforms such as Moodle and Google Classroom. 

Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Adam Buchwald spoke on how LC is adapting to its new online-only classes. 

“We had some tools available for the faculty, and each faculty is then going to choose a different set of those tools to provide their kind of instruction for their kind of discipline in their kind of class,” Buchwald said. “Now our challenge is to figure out where the student is going to be, and what challenges are ahead of them that we’re going to have trouble solving.”

Though many students at LC do have access to a computer or tablet and wifi, not all do, which is a huge hurdle as classes become accessible only online. IT has created a Digital Resiliency webpage with resources for students, staff and faculty. The page contains tips for online work and learning, as well as links to on-campus resources, such as the LC virtual private network (VPN) that can allow access to software LC owns. It also points to off-campus resources, such as links to Comcast Xfinity and AT&T websites, both of which are offering free access to wifi during the coronavirus crisis. In addition, the IT Service Desk will remain open and can loan out a limited number of chromebooks for the remainder of the semester. 

Though the transition to online courses has not been entirely seamless, LC is shoring up its digital resources for the coming months. 

“(Our resources) were stretched to the thinnest at one point, because we’re not equipped as an online institution,” Buchwald said. “We weren’t really well equipped for this kind of transition, and it took a couple days to figure out what we really needed. Now we have 500 Zoom licenses, I think at least all the faculty will get a Zoom pro license.”

IT staff is also working to provide equipment for the community to use, but has limited resources when it comes to hardware.

“We struggle sometimes even with our classrooms aging and that sort of thing, so talking about disbursement of students is a difficult one to prepare for,” Buchwald said. “We’re trying to do our best and scrounge together, or at least try to solve things on a one-by-one basis as we can.”

Watzek library is also adapting to LC’s move to online learning. A webpage entitled “Watzek Library Response to Coronavirus: General Information” contains more information about the library’s digital learning features. The library will be moving to online-only services starting after 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20. 

“All of Watzek’s online resources including research databases, e journals, ebooks, and (digital) interlibrary loan should continue to be available for students and faculty to access,” Mark Dahl, director of Watzek Library, said on the website. “This website highlights some additional services that we are making available. They include: remote research consultations with librarians, digitization of print materials, conversion of videos to online delivery and request for purchase of ebooks.”

The library will also be waiving fines that accrue during the remainder of LC’s online semester, including fees for Summit and InterLibrary Loan (ILL) items. 

Other academic resources, including the Symbolic and Quantitative Resource Center (SQRC), the Writing Center, Student Academic Affairs Board (SAAB) tutoring and the Interactive Learning Center (ILC), will continue to offer support throughout the remainder of the semester. The SQRC will be closed for drop-in hours, but is offering a course on Moodle where students can ask questions after self-enrolling. The Writing Center will also be closed for drop-in hours, but plans to continue to conduct meetings online via video conference. SAAB tutoring and ILC language tutoring will be continued throughout the semester with options for remote tutoring sessions.

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