The University System of Georgia is suspending face-to-face classes at all its campuses for two weeks, per the governor’s call to action Thursday to ramp up efforts to battle the coronavirus

Opinion: Georgia colleges ready to move classes online to combat coronavirus

Rick Diguette is a writer and part-time English instructor at Georgia State University's Perimeter College. He sent me a note saying he felt colleges were equipped to move classes online in the next few weeks.

I asked him to write a piece explaining his confidence, and he has done so today. 

We ought to hope Diguette is right as the University System of Georgia is suspending face-to-face classes at all its campuses for two weeks, per the governor’s call to action Thursday to ramp up efforts to battle the fast-spreading coronavirus. 

Public campuses are shifting all classes online, including labs. Most private colleges have also suspended classes, with some also requiring students vacate dorms. USG encourages students to leave public campus dorms, but is not mandating they do so, at least now. The messages from colleges seem to change overnight. 

The urgency to “flatten the curve” in the spread of the coronavirus intensifies as Georgia continues to see confirmed cases rise. 

According to the AJC Sunday, there are now 99 confirmed case, up from 66 a day earlier. 

There were 20 cases in Fulton County, 19 in Cobb County, 10 in DeKalb County, nine in Bartow County, six in Cherokee County, six in Dougherty County, five in Fayette County, four in Floyd County, four in Gwinnett County, two in Coweta, Clayton, Clarke, Lowndes, Lee and Gordon counties and one in Newton, Charlton, Henry and Polk counties.

By Rick Diguette  

Most local colleges and universities have now decided to close their campuses and move classes online as the Coronavirus threat continues to grow. Some may find that alarming, but not me. I view this as a prudent measure taken in the face of what may become a protracted public health crisis. 

I teach at the Dunwoody campus of Georgia State University’s Perimeter College. I have no doubt that faculty there can provide students with the instruction they need online just as well as they could when delivering instruction face-to-face.

Rick Diguette

All university faculty have access to the iCollege online platform. iCollege allows them to do online everything they do in person. They can make announcements, explain assignments, respond to questions, monitor discussions, reply to email, take attendance, administer exams, enter grades, and even lecture via podcast.

Will it be just like meeting face-to-face? No. It will be different, but that doesn’t mean it will be inferior. Not everyone will agree with me on this point. For example, I can imagine a biology professor might argue that online students can’t perform a dissection, an important lab exercise. 

YouTube is home to countless dissection videos. You can also visit websites like The Science Bank and find a virtual dissection of a frog as well as that of a cat, dog, earthworm, fetal pig, grasshopper, horse, mollusk, rat, shark, and starfish. 

I do have one concern, though. Moving classes online means students will have to step it up when it comes to managing their time. 

My advice? Don’t change a thing. Treat your new online schedule just like you did your on-campus schedule. Be where you need to be online at the appointed time. Do that and you stand a good chance of preventing this disruption from becoming a disaster. 

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.
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