Updated: July 19, 2021 08:25 PM
Created: July 19, 2021 05:07 PM
On the Twin Cities campus of St. Mary's University of Minnesota, classrooms are empty.
Learning online started as a COVID-19 transition for faculty and students, but it's now being embraced at St. Mary's campuses across the state.
"This really opened up the opportunity that we can do things differently," said Andrea Carroll-Glover, vice provost for online strategy and programs.
The college started offering courses to build skills and certify faculty in online teaching expertise, and so far, roughly 110 faculty members have taken the three courses.
"Even in the most basic courses, every time I logged on, I was learning something new and different," said Amy Jauman, program director in the School of Business and Technology.
University officials say flexibility is paramount, and they're hearing that from both graduate and undergraduate students.
"Once they were exposed to this online experience, they recognized that type of learning opportunity can give them the flexibility that they need as an undergraduate student," Carroll-Glover said.
Jordan Modjeski will be a senior this year on the undergraduate campus in Winona.
"I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy doing online work," she said.
Modjeski took a few online courses prior to COVID and is grateful more are being offered now.
"A lot of people do enjoy meeting online. There’s a certain element of now I have more time, I don’t need to go somewhere, I don’t need to plan something," she said. "Especially [for] students who are living off-campus, things like that make it a little bit easier for people to connect, and that’s something that I think is very well done."
It's a transition introduced by an unparalleled pandemic.
"We teach such a diverse group of students across all of our programs and I think that our excellence in this particular area is only going to increase that opportunity," Jauman said.
The university is exploring offering this program to K-12 educators as many school districts look to open long-term, online programming as a result of COVID-19 as well.
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