Morgan State reacts to first day of remote learning, students adjust to ‘new normal’

Aziah Siid, Features Editor

Morgan State was virtually reunited after more than two weeks with the start of online instruction on Monday. However, as professors are tasked with reestablishing a new normal for their classes, students are left to digest the reality of online instruction and for some—it means the adjustment to an alternative way of education.

News broke that the university would transition to remote learning after students returned from spring break and to prepare for the remainder of the semester, professors were instructed to postpone midterms. However, Vadmin Jigoulov, a philosophy and religious studies lecturer—began to revise his course before Morgan announced that face-to-face lectures were suspended for the remainder of the semester on March 10.

Jigoulov said his decision to move the midterm online and revamp the course syllabus was the first precautionary measure in the event of a campus-wide closure.

“I was confident in myself—I’ve had a lot of experience teaching online,” Jigoulov said. “I expected it to be stressful for my students because they did not sign up for an online course.”

Professors have begun to utilize web conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangout and Big Blue Button to create virtual rooms for online instruction. With a unique web address or code, students can join their class with the use of a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Students, including sophomore Jordan Barnes, who said she learns best with face-to-face instruction, was saddened to learn that her classes would transition online for the remainder of the semester—especially her chemistry course.

Barnes, a pre-professional physical therapy major, said she always struggled with chemistry—even when she received in-class lectures. Therefore, when the university decided to go remote, she became hesitant in her ability to adjust.

“I always really struggled with Chemistry, so I don’t really know how I was going to be able to learn through the video chat,” Barnes said. “However, when he was teaching us I kind of understood it better.”

Approximately 3,500 signatures, including freshman sociology major Alexia Smith’s, the founder of the most recent petition, requests the university to cease online instruction and distribute passing grades to students.

Jigoulov said President David Wilson instructed professors to adjust their attendance policies, assignment deadlines and decrease course loads to support students as they adjust to the permanent changes of thier spring semester.

“Life is stressful enough—we have a barrage of news and headlines,” Jigoulov said. “They should at least have some peace in my course.”

For other educators, the introduction of the carnivorous (COVID-19) has resulted in a complete revamp of the foundation of their course and for Assistant Spanish Professor Megan DeVirgilis, who manages three classes and two independent studies, it meant the addition of Big Blue Button, a Canvas web conference tool.

“I’m trying to use my strengths to help my students get through this,” DeVirgilis said. “As stressed as I am, I know that they are more stressed.”

Morgan will continue to adhere to online seminar instruction for the remainder of the semester as Wilson and his administrative team monitor COVID-19.

Although the annual spring town hall was postponed due to Gov. Larry Hogan’s direction to cease gathers of more than 10 members, the university urges the community to submit questions and concerns to [email protected].