Students and faculty members in the Memphis educational community are resiliently adjusting to the curveball thrown at their traditional learning routines this spring.
In a new “driven by doing” themed video— entitled still driven, still doing—sent to the university community Monday morning, President Rudd said the Memphis community “always has, and always will” unite together, and “rise to any challenge.” That relentless, fighting, American spirit is visibly manifesting— in the educational field especially—across the Memphis community, and is proving to be a unique, new opportunity as opposed to merely a hurdle.
Some humor, even, has made its way across many college campuses. Attending online class from home means seeing students in pajamas, professors in their living rooms, and all sorts of inside looks behind the curtain.
The famous “Barstool” social-media account humorously features compilations of students engaging in borderline explicit behavior while attending online lectures (should you be interested, look it up).
Journalism professor Jay Gilmore said that Zoom, one of the primary online learning platforms, has changed his outlook on possibilities of even his own professional career. In various fields, the unprecedented society-wide standards of social distancing have had interesting side-effects, and not all of them have been bad. The availability of effective digital alternatives of communication has not only eased the difficult interruption of normal class routines, but represents an effective way to communicate and conduct interviews on a high-quality medium.
“I’m very impressed with the high-quality of Zoom in particular,” Gilmore said. The first-year professor with over thirty years’ experience in television said he “wants to do more” with zoom, and is encouraging his students to do the same.
Gilmore said for smaller classes, the transition was technically “much easier” to facilitate as a faculty member, as far inviting the students to join the lecture and making arrangements. But according to Gilmore, online preparation for a “large” class with fifty to seventy-five students, for example, would be technically “much more difficult,” Gilmore said.
The transition was smooth and morale high when, for the first time since its founding, classes were suspended at Memphis University School and completely held via online video-conference.
“Online Learning” began Monday, the same way as any other day for the MUS community, with Associate Headmaster Barry Ray’s traditional reading of the morning announcements via video-stream.
MUS students traditionally wear neckties on Fridays to both honor their weekly chapel guest-speaker and encourage professional habits. Coach Buck Towner posted a video putting on his tie, and encouraged students to do the same.
“We’re going to keep things as normal as possible at MUS,” Towner said. In his video, Towner said it would not be a normal Friday without putting on a necktie, so “we’re going to keep the school spirit up as much as possible,” Towner said.
Wednesday evening, the official MUS owls Instagram account posted a poem by Coach Matt Bakke, a faculty member for over twenty members and MUS icon:
“A virus put our school in a bind,
So we turned to learning online.
We rallied around
And refused to shut down.
MUS continues to shine.”
Student council president J.D. Huber said responding to this unique challenge all students face—being removed from their campus communities— is all about mental toughness.
“What we’ve got here is nothing less than an opportunity—school is not over,” Huber said in a video address on the official MUS Owls social media account Wednesday night.
John Shields Wilson, 27, a law-student, similarly said that he is undeterred by the transition to online learning.
“It could be worse,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, while he is satisfied with the digital alternatives given the circumstances, he would not be surprised by certain “inevitable” changes to the curriculum, including some classes possibly moving to “pass/fail,” Wilson said.
“Students are a little nervous as this [online learning] is probably not the best atmosphere for learning the law, but the professors are doing great,” Wilson said.