Flexible Delivery Modes Keep STLCC Students on Course
Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, Jada Hall’s decision to return to college in the middle of the global pandemic was an easy one.
“For me, the time just felt right to finish what I started,” she said.
In summer 2020, Hall enrolled at St. Louis Community College after having taken six years off to raise her daughter. When she returned, she began working to complete the credits she needs for a degree in respiratory therapy – a goal she’s had since high school.
Although COVID-19 has impacted the delivery of the instruction, Hall has found success in her classes, especially those offered in a live virtual lecture (LVL) format. Held virtually, these courses allow students to experience real-time engagement with faculty and classmates through a streaming service.
“I’m the type of student who wants to feel connected to the classroom, so LVL courses have been a good fit for me,” she said. “Even though most of my learning is happening from home, I’m able to ask questions and get the clarification I need to make sure I understand the material.”
Anna Wilson is a full-time student who is dual enrolled at STLCC-Florissant Valley and Ritenour High School. After graduation, she plans to pursue a degree in dentistry, so she can take over her family’s practice.
In fall 2020, Wilson completed four LVL courses at the College, along with two courses through her high school. While she prefers learning in a traditional classroom setting, she’s determined to make the best of the current situation.
“I would recommend LVL courses if you miss face-to-face classes,” she said. “I really love how my classes are being taught at STLCC. My professors are adept at teaching virtually and they have a good understanding of the situation we’re facing as students. As a result, I feel I have learned a lot and have been able to retain much of the information. While I do miss in-person classes, the LVL courses are helping me stay on track with my goals.”
According to Renita Luck, STLCC’s executive director for online education, LVL courses were developed to meet an immediate need when the College transitioned to fully online delivery in spring 2020 due to the pandemic.
“By offering classes via LVL format, students are afforded the opportunity to continue to meet with their instructor and classmates in real-time, even though they are separated by geographical distance,” she said. “When we moved into summer and fall – and now looking forward to spring and summer, these classes continue to fill a need for students who are more comfortable with the ‘live’ instruction and immediate feedback.”
In addition to LVL courses, the College offers a wide array of traditional online courses. These courses provide self-directed learners the opportunity to engage with content, instructors and classmates on their own schedule.
Since March, faculty have completed hundreds of hours of training aimed to help them teach online.
“I believe the training we require for our online and LVL instructional faculty make us unique,” Luck said. “The training is rigorous, and it provides faculty with the tools and resources they need to innovate instructional materials and understand the complexities involved in communicating from a distance. Additionally, all of our faculty members who are teaching online are well-versed in Quality Matters, which is the internationally recognized standard of excellence for the design of distance learning classes.”
Sarah Fielding, Ph.D., professor of English, is one of these faculty members. Despite the circumstances, the work of teaching and learning has continued.
“Teaching online has been a transition, for sure, but everyone has risen to the occasion, including our students,” Fielding said. “It’s been a joy to see that the community in our classrooms can also exist inside our homes. I have loved meeting with my students at our set meeting times, as well as one-on-one.”
Robert Althage was a student in Fielding’s creative writing class this fall. Offered as an LVL course, he met with his classmates weekly met via Zoom to share their work and get feedback on their writings.
“I work full time and overtime, so having the option to write and submit assignments at my leisure has really helped me continue to progress toward my associate degree, especially with COVID-19 restrictions in place,” he said. “While it’s difficult to replace the group interaction with Zoom, or just discussion boards, most professors teaching online classes seem to be willing to go the extra mile to help students who are struggling. So, don't be afraid to try one; it could be a great way for you to earn college credit during these unusual times.”
Find out more about ways to learn at STLCC.