BGSU looks to leverage ‘new normal’ as in-person classes return in Fall 2021
Faculty, students now are well-versed in video conferencing
By Bob Cunningham ’18
Bowling Green State University is returning to in-person classes for Fall 2021, and, in many ways, it will be a “new normal” after learning remotely during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“I like that phrase, because it recognizes the strengths that we had going into the pandemic at the same time it demonstrates the growth that we have experienced as a result of it,” said Dr. Glenn Davis, vice provost for Academic Affairs at BGSU. “The new normal describes how we’ll be returning to an in-person fall semester with an enhanced understanding of how we can connect with each other. And that's going to include not just classes, but also student organizations and activities, residence halls and dining halls.
There is good reason that Davis is particularly fond of “new normal” rather than, say, “normal.”
“The new part of that new normal is what I think is exciting. We've learned a lot over the last 15 months about what we can do virtually as a community,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon each of us to ask some new questions: How are we able to engage students using technology? How are we able to bring in experts from around the region, country or world into the classroom? How can we help students find academic support and community using technology?”
So, rather than just assuming students will find their way to study groups or collaboration groups, BGSU faculty now have the tools and training to help students create those groups and find ways to meaningfully connect.
“I think what we're looking for this fall is that combination of being physically together in classrooms,” Davis said, “and incorporating what we've learned over the last year and a half and use it in new ways — not because we have to, but because we recognize all the value that it brings.”
Now, Davis said, instead of being limited to a speaker who has time on their schedule to travel to BGSU and speak to students in person, the options are limitless. For example, a best-selling author is in the middle of a book tour and can’t visit a creative writing class, but they may have time for an hour in front of a class via video conferencing.
“As we're looking at how we're going to be pivoting some of these classes to in-person, I'm hearing from faculty and from department chairs about some of the ways they're going to be incorporating these innovations into their classes,” he said. “We’ve broken through that wall and it’s become part of our normal practice, which will benefit our students.
“This innovation can also help post-traditional or military students, who may live farther away from campus than traditional-aged students and can now participate in study groups or group projects via Teams or Zoom. These students don’t have to reside on or near campus in order to feel connected. It's going to help us move forward.”