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MCC students transition to completely online courses, create new routines

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The COVID-19 virus has caused many to change how they operate, including individuals, businesses and schools.

Metropolitan Community College has followed suit, moving all classes to a completely online format. Students in all programs have had to make the adjustments to learning, completing homework and everything in between from their computers. The experience has been different for students, with their programs of study adjusting in different ways.

Michael Jahn is a student in the Project Management Professional certification program. He was drawn to the program because he thought it could help bulk up his skillset with his background in health and legal management.

“Last fall, I received a flier in the mail and perused a description for the Project Management Academy that was going to start in the spring quarter,” Jahn says. “Even though I have bachelor’s degree and a graduate law degree, the time and the content of this course seemed interesting and I hoped it would help with my career.”

As Jahn was starting the program, the possibility of campuses closing was becoming more likely.

“My first few classes were held on campus, with the looming possibility that the campus might close due to the growing pandemic. This class involved a rather frequent projects interacting in small teams, which I was unsure of how it could be accomplished on video,” he says.

Shortly after, MCC moved all classes to online formats. Jahn’s classes are now held on Zoom, a video call format. Jahn says that the classes being held via Zoom has been a smooth transition and seem to be working out well.

“Taking class on Zoom is, in many ways, no different than participating in a small classroom,” he explains. “Your instructor is on the top of your screen and is able to share his screen whenever he wants. We have the option to speak or submit a message on the chat feature to everyone or a single person class. There is also a way to raise your hand or give thumbs up.”

Jahn says teachers and fellow students have been responsive and helping one another during this time. And while online classes have been a relatively easy switch, he misses some aspects of in-person class.

“I miss the after class social interaction with the teacher and students,” Jahn says. “Networking and relationship are much harder to get started on-line. I miss the campus experience.”

Richard Andrews is a Business student who decided after years at the same job to further his education and change to the nonprofit sector.

“Over the years, my job as a clerk at Union Pacific Railroad could be described as a serving position to help others without much opportunity to help my fellow man. Some say it is a thankless job,” he explains. “I have been volunteering with nonprofits for many years with different organizations. The first time I attended MCC was during high school and I wanted to take some college courses early and now I was looking for some additional education in the nonprofit sector.”

Andrews’s classes are now also conducted via Zoom, with other work being done online. Andrews was going to Omaha Public Libraries to work, but they are now closed. He has adjusted ensure he can get all his work done by borrowing a computer from MCC.

Andrews says he is adapting to completely online work, but he misses seeing his instructors and classmates in person and the on-campus environment.

“I like the online classes but I prefer classes being in person. I really enjoy the classmate interaction and the time at the libraries,” he says. “Everyone seems like they are more intentional about what they do. Most things are handled through email and I like the personal touch better.”

Bradley Hawkins enrolled in MCC in March 2019 to change his career after years working as an oil driller.

“A fellow veteran, who is in the automotive collision industry in Kansas City, told me that this industry is booming,” Hawkins explains. “He told me that I should pursue a degree. I have worked on cars my entire life and the industry held a lot of interest for me. I took his advice and I am very glad that I did.”

Hawkins’s classes in the Auto Collision program, usually very involved, now look very different and are completely online.

“The classes that I am taking, not only for this quarter but for the entire program, are completely hands-on learning,” he says. “Now that we are online, it is very hard to get the hands-on experience, but that doesn’t mean this online learning isn’t extremely valuable. We are still able to learn and hold conversations about proper procedures, which is important to the collision industry.”

Hawkins says that classes are a good mix of instructors teaching and student input. He was also able to pick up a damaged car hood from MCC and practice on it at home.

“This hasn’t taken away from my experience at all,” he says.

Hawkins is close to graduating from MCC. He is hoping that he can get back on campus and finish his time here doing hands-on work.

“I am getting close to graduation, but I still have another quarter following this one. I hope that by the time we are ready for the next quarter, students will be allowed back on campus. I know that we will have to make up lab time that we missed during this quarter. I don’t exactly know how that is going to work out, but I do know that all of us, instructors included are going to have work over-time to complete. I am more than happy with that.”