College professors, students adjust to online classes

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — The coronavirus has caused some major changes in higher education. Colleges across the nation have transitioned many of their classes to online platforms, and now, professors and students are adapting to the change.

Dr. John Downey, the president of Blue Ridge Community College and a hybrid Psychology professor, said the transition to digital platforms has forced faculty to become more comfortable with the latest technology.

On Tuesday, Downey set up the video streaming software, Zoom, and his 16 students joined him virtually. He said the transition has taken some time to get used to.

"In the classroom, I'm able to do exercises with the students that allow them to form groups and demonstrate leadership techniques and other psychological concepts, but some of those kind of hands on activities aren't possible," said Downey.

This transition has caused professors, like Downey, to get creative and find ways to emulate "in-person" learning techniques as much as possible. Through Zoom, students could be split up into groups to discuss topics, as well as talk to their professor privately through chat rooms.

Overall, Downey said the experience has been relatively smooth; however, technology challenges have been a difficulty for both teachers and students.

According to a recent study, roughly 20 percent of students have trouble with basic techology needs.

"At home, our technology isn't the best, and our internet isn't the best," said Molly Burnette, one of Downey's students. "It's definitely difficult."

Typically, students could rely on campus libraries, but most on-campus facilities have been closed due to the coronavirus.