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OSU-OKC expands virtual, online services to support students

OSU-OKC expands virtual and online services to support students

Online tutoring, virtual labs and video chat support highlight efforts to keep students on track

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 29, 2020) – When Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City student Jay Perez found out COVID-19 would cause classes to be moved online for the remainder of the spring semester, he was worried about how it might affect his ability to learn trigonometry.

“I've never even looked at this material before; it’s all new to me,” Perez said.

However, extra steps taken by his professor, Mo Niazi, have made the transition easier than expected.

“I was definitely nervous about this going into it, but I am really glad that professor Niazi is posting videos on YouTube; and he's having video conferences during regular class hours to help his students,” Perez said.

Perez, a business management major at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC), said despite the challenges of the new online environment, the structure provided by the university and his accommodating instructors have “been extremely helpful” in keeping him on track.

That structure was implemented by officials at OSU-OKC when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education institutions began to come into focus. The faculty and staff at the university moved quickly to ensure they could provide strong instructional outcomes for students by increasing or developing as many online or virtual options as possible.

“As an academic community we had meetings and early discussions about what seemed inevitable based on the spread of COVID-19 on the east and west coasts,” said Joey Fronheiser, vice president of Academic Affairs at OSU-OKC. “Academic leadership were meeting during the week of spring break and communicating with faculty who were already making plans for online classes.”

Plans included not only the implementation of online classes, but the roll-out of virtual lab simulations, online tutoring and support, and even virtual academic advising.

One thing that worked in ​OSU-OKC’s favor is that about half of the university’s classes already were online, and 80 percent of all classes are taught by faculty with experience and expertise in high-quality online instruction, Fronheiser said.

Tracy Edwards, associate vice president of Academic Affairs at OSU-OKC, said university leaders focused on equipping faculty members with the tools to be able to connect with students.

“Engaging with students is one of the challenges with switching to online-only instruction,” Edwards said.

To help address that issue, all faculty at OSU-OKC were provided a licensed Zoom account to allow for digital face-to-face meetings with students. 

That’s not the only method of connection. The university’s online classroom platform, Canvas, provides conferencing functions for classes, as well as study groups and meetings.

Instructors also made efforts to connect with students outside of the virtual classroom setting.

In March, a handful of faculty and staff gathered online with members of the school’s Video Game Club to play video games together. Faculty streamed the event and provided streaming coverage of other gaming playthroughs.

“This not only allowed the group to feel some sense of belonging during this time, but also it allowed students the opportunity to share how they were managing the social isolation,” Edwards said.

To provide increased academic support, the school’s Student Success and Opportunity Center has implemented remote tutoring to help keep students up to speed. Hosted through the Canvas platform, the project went from idea to implementation in three days. OSU-OKC students also have access to an online tutoring vendor 24/7.

In the school’s Science Department, instructors have utilized lab simulations to re-create the traditional lab experience, department head Evan Burkala said.

“These offer a good representation of experimental procedures, gathering data, and interpretations of that data,” Burkala said. “Some instructors are coming in to film a demonstration of experiments and results where no substitute will offer a comparable experience to face-to-face instruction.”

Another resource the school stood up is its virtual academic advising platform. The platform allows current or prospective students to meet face-to-face with an academic advisor through a live video chat. The technology allows students to experience a personal connection with university staff even when they can’t leave their home, Edwards said.

“In fact, our advisement staff held several webinars this month to teach other schools around the country how to implement the advising platform,” he said.

Edwards noted that all the measures the school has implemented have one thing in common.

“It’s all about making a commitment to student success,” he said.

For more information about OSU-OKC’s virtual and online services, go to www.osuokc.edu/virtualcampus.

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For media inquiries:

Nick Trougakos, OSU-OKC – nick.trougakos@okstate.edu – (405) 945-9196

About Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) is part of the modern land-grant system of Oklahoma State University. OSU-OKC is a two-year public institution, offering more than 40 degrees and certificate options. Through quality education, a supportive environment, leadership training and service opportunities, OSU-OKC trains students to work and educates them to lead. OSU-OKC graduates are found throughout the community serving as police officers, firefighters, nurses, teachers, healthcare professionals and business owners. More information is available at www.osuokc.edu.