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Students and Professors Adapt and Thrive While Distance Learning

May 5, 2020

Over the last seven weeks, students and professors at universities around the world have made the switch to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many have transformed their homes or offices into classrooms and workspaces.

Students and professors at OBU have likewise experienced that transition. For Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, native and senior cross-cultural ministry major Lauren Martin, this has been a huge shift for her and her learning experience.

"Working on school work online and from home has been a huge change,” she said. “However, my incredible professors have made the transition so easy. I’m especially thankful for technology that allows me to continue communicating and interacting with my classmates and professors from home."

Ben Baxter, assistant professor of animation and motion graphics, has been attempting to bring variety to his Zoom meetings for class by changing up where he is every time he meets with students.

“I have been conducting most of my teaching from my office at OBU,” he said. “We have three young kids at the house, and it would be very difficult to work from home. Most of what I teach is very hands on and requires lots of interaction with others, which has been my biggest hurdle. The students and I are finding creative ways to clear those obstacles and I have to hand it to my students, they come prepared and are engaged in our live classes, happy and smiling…possibly because of zoom virtual background shenanigans. I also appreciate seeing their faces. They inspire me. That makes it worth the mountain of work getting everything online.”

Jake Power, business management major and junior from Edmond, Oklahoma, has enjoyed spending time with his family that he usually wouldn’t have.

“These past couple of weeks have been challenging and different, but I think I can only learn and grow from this experience,” he said. “Being home has pushed me to create a new schedule and be responsible with time management. On the bright side, it has allowed me to enjoy family time and given me opportunities to step outside of my normal routine and have fun in other areas.”

Dr. David Gambo, Reverend A.E. and Dora Hughes Chair of Christian Ministry and assistant professor of Christian ministry, has been working from home and taking care of his family all in one.

“Work and family have merged as one,” Gambo said. “My office at home now moves depending on where my children are napping. However, I am adjusting to the new normal with a thankful heart that we have technology to help bridge the gap.”

Clara Thompson, a sophomore English major from Colorado Springs, is thankful for her professors’ ability to help motivate her while she is learning from home.

“Working from home has definitely been a total 180 switch as I have had to find ways to motivate myself and make my own routine,” she said. “Being distanced has been hard, but I am thankful for OBU’s professors because they foster intentional communication even when we are displaced. Even from far off, they still express they care deeply for us and that means the world. We are all in this together.”

Ann McNellis, adjunct professor of public relations, has been teaching her classes all while homeschooling her children.

“This is definitely not my ideal way of teaching,” she said, “but I am so thankful for Zoom and all the other online platforms we have been using that have made this transition smoother. My days have been spent with teaching, my husband who has been working from home and homeschooling my three children.”

Isabel Price, senior communication studies major from Bakersfield, California, has been making the most of being cozy while doing her online work. 

“Working from home definitely comes with its struggles to say the least,” she said. “But also, it comes with some perks. I get to wear blankets, take in the birds chirping outside my window, and schedule out my own routines for the most part. I’m just trying to count my blessings in this season where it feels like everything is so different. I’m learning to have grace because we’re all learning how to navigate this transition together.”

The University has offered an array of virtual services to students during this time of distance learning.

The spring semester at OBU concludes May 14, the end of finals week. Spring Commencement has been rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m.