My GRCC Story: Distance learning will be a new experience for many. Here's how to be successful

MARCH 13, 2020, Grand Rapids, Mich. -- Grand Rapids Community College is joining colleges across the nation in suspending most face-to-face instruction and transitioning to distance learning as part of an effort to keep students safe and slow the spread of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Distance learning will be a new experience for many students -- and some professors, too. We're joined on the My GRCC Story podcast with three campus experts to talk about how it works, ease fears and offer some tips on how to be successful

Dr. Sheila Jones, dean of Instructional Support; Bill Knapp, executive director of Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies; and Noah DeSmit of the GRCC Media Technologies Department talk about the various ways professors can deliver instruction and communicate with students.

Knapp has been with GRCC since 2017, and has been working with distance learning since 1997. He said distance learning can still be interactive, with many professors using real-time platforms, such as Zoom or Google Meet, to connect with students. 

He said students don't need to have a laptop or desktop computer to access some of these programs, and could even use a cell phone. 

Knapp encouraged students to stay connected to their professors, and not be shy about asking questions or for assistance from the college's help desk.

GRCC professors and staff are passionate about helping students get the education they need. They are working to find innovative and creative ways to bring classroom work to a digital environment.

As GRCC’s dean of Instructional Support, Jones oversees the college's Center for Teaching Excellence and efforts to build an innovative curriculum and effective teaching and learning practices leading to student success. She has spent time helping professors translate their courses to a distance learning environment.

"When I asked them what they wanted me to convey to their students, they said, 'Make sure you tell them everything is going to be OK,' and 'You can do this!'" she said.

Distance learning classes also are opportunities keep a college education accessible for students looking to balance classes with job and home responsibilities.

Listen to My GRCC Story on Spotify, iTunes and everywhere else you find podcasts. You can also listen here: https://anchor.fm/mygrccstory

Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college -- and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

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