Robert Arndt holds office hours Monday, March 16 in Garret Strong. In-person classes were canceled for the week, but professors reported to campus as normal.

Northwest faculty will tailor online instruction to their students and course materials with no in-person classes being held for the rest of the semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

University Provost Jamie Hooyman met with faculty and sat in on academic department meetings March 16 and said she was impressed by the resourcefulness and creativity of Northwest faculty.

“Faculty have been wonderful about being creative and thinking through things like what were the academic requirements prior to this, and they may have to change a little bit. … Ultimately, they’re taking a student-first look at it,” Hooyman said on the phone.

For classes with more traditional instruction methods, faculty are primarily deciding whether they will host classes synchronously or asynchronously and which platform to use.

Synchronous classes will take place live on platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts with students able to interact with instruction as it happens.

Asynchronous classes make course materials like recorded lectures and notes available at any time for students to work with independently on their own schedules.

Online lab courses are being considered for science labs, and Hooyman said teaching methods are being reevaluated to still reach the same learning outcomes in different ways for fine arts classes or courses driven by technology that cannot be accessed remotely.

Hooyman said Northwest is fortunate to already have all faculty and students using Canvas, which provides a unifying structure for online learning.

Hooyman said she doesn't know when a decision will be made as to whether or when in-person classes will resume.

“We know that taking classes online changes the learning,” Hooyman said on the phone. “Safety of faculty, students and staff is the first thing we look at. But then also, we don’t want to jump too soon, because we know that bringing students back on campus would be a better learning experience for them.”

Vocal music professor Brian Lanier said he could not comment at this time as to how ensemble classes will be handled online or whether all spring performances will be canceled.

When reached for comment, Fine and Performing Arts Department Chair Katy Strickland, Dean of the School of Education Tim Wall and geography professor Mark Corson deferred to Hooyman for information about online classes.

“What I really want to communicate to students is I don’t want them to panic,” Hooyman said. “It is kind of scary times, but we’re going to work this out together.”

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