When Flu Invades TMCC, Some Students Go Online

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-3: Tribal College Faculty, Spring 2010, Tribal College News

By Andy Johnson

Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC, Belcourt, ND), like so many others, was impacted by the flu virus. The administration responded by installing hand sanitizer units around the building near the restrooms and in the halls. Directions/reminders for scrubbing hands with hot water and soap now appear in restrooms. Fighting the spread of the flu virus was truly a challenge.

Keeping sick students out of the classroom is one way to fight against spreading the flu. However, it is difficult to encourage students to stay away from class since they fear falling behind in class and jeopardizing their financial aid.

In addition, many students had sick children at home. To address these problems, I made it possible for students to miss my composition class for several weeks without falling behind in their work by incorporating on-line instruction components in my face-to-face classes. We primarily used the Jenzabar software package to transform my faceto-face classes to hybrid composition classes.

All students at TMCC have access to Jenzabar, and all classes in which they have registered appear on the My Courses section of Jenzabar. I simply copied all my Composition I resource material from my online sections into the face-to-face sections. Then I added an assignment module that duplicates what I would otherwise assign in class. Students also have additional Internet links to supplementary material that complements instructional material, including the textbook for the class.

Finally, Jenzabar has an email component that allows students to

communicate with me about assignments and resource material. Assignments are completed, uploaded into Jenzabar, where they are graded (complete with my comments for revision) and placed back into the module for their review and consideration. Students get one-on-one attention because of the email component and/or the chat room, which affords live help for the student.

We know that some colleges contemplated worse-case scenarios, closing for a period of time until the flu had run its course in the community. I think my approach offers the institution and students a healthy alternative. My students who are sick or who are caring for sick children now have a way to tend to a family crisis without falling behind academically.

Andy Johnson can be reached by email, ajohnson@tm.edu, or phone, (701) 5509969.

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