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YSU classes move online

YOUNGSTOWN — Getting a university with some 3,506 courses this spring semester to go rapidly and fully online was a heavy lift for Youngstown State University employees.

The online version of the university opened Monday.

About 60 percent of YSU courses already had some online presence before the spread of COVID-19 caused Gov. Mike DeWine to close universities and schools. Since that time, YSU has gotten the other 40 percent of its total spring courses online.

It took about 10 days, according to Hillary Fuhrman, YSU’s interim director for the Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Before this pandemic, some 11 percent of YSU’s courses were fully taught on Blackboard, which is its online system. Approximately 1,384 course shells that were not on Blackboard have been placed on it.

“Some component of the majority of our courses were online or their professors were, at least, using the Blackboard program to provide lessons and instructions to students online, while still doing much of their instruction face to face,” Fuhrman said. “We had about 350 people (instructors) that had not been on Blackboard.”

Working with the university’s information technology and distance education staffs, as well as individual department heads, Fuhrman said the university brought faculty up to speed. They also addressed the necessary issues to ensure students are in the best positions to succeed.

“We had to look at what was needed in making science labs, physical education and arts programs work online,” Fuhrman said. “We had some instructors with little to no experience in working in this environment.”

Classes are being looked at to make sure students are being challenged, as well as able to obtain the most content in ways that are accessible, she said.

The university worked both through virtual learning and in-person learning to teach any faculty who had little experience using the online program.

“Our information technology division has been working non-stop to identify those needing technology in order to teach or learn remotely,” Fuhrman said. “They have been gathering equipment to loan out, have been working to make specialty software available remotely and to ensure continued tech support.”

“The team has gotten done in two weeks what might have typically taken months to happen,” she continued.

YSU President Jim Tressel is calling this an historic time at the university.

“While we have been compelled to make this move because of this global coronavirus pandemic, we also hope to come away from this period with lessons that will serve us well in the years ahead,” Tressel said.

rsmith@tribtoday.com

Tressel plans video town hall

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel at noon today will discuss the university’s response to COVID-19 and what to expect for the rest of the semester. Viewers can ask questions.

The livestream will take place on the Youngstown State Facebook page, as well as the university YouTube channel (youtube.com/ youngstownstate).

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