When the announcement was made that Spring 2020 classes would be held remotely, the services housed in the Manwaring Center quickly adapted to aid students whether they were staying in Rexburg or going home.
With students suddenly located throughout the country, the University Store was tasked with coming up with a solution that would allow students to return their rented textbooks. They also needed to find a solution for students remaining in Rexburg to physically return their books while also maintaining social distancing guidelines.
The University Store’s solution was to offer free shipping for rental textbooks to students who took their books home with them for the remainder of the Winter 2020 Semester. Store employees also organized a drive-through drop-off for local students to return their rented books without having to leave their cars.
“Getting textbooks returned in a short window of time is a challenge during a typical semester,” said Jenny Anderson, wireless assistant and communications specialist. “We tried to make the process as simple as possible while keeping students and store staff safe during this challenging time. University Communications and the BSC were extremely helpful in getting information to students about all the changes to the process and we’re very grateful for their efforts.”
The University Store staff worked many hours with faculty to make changes to Spring 2020 Semester textbook orders and new products typically used in hands-on classes. Required textbooks and other academic materials for spring semester were shipped for a reduced flat rate to students’ homes, and local students picked them up in a quick, social distancing walk through.
Along with the University Store, the Crossroads has continued to function and benefit the campus community even with limited capabilities. Although not all venues remain open, the Crossroads still offers a moderate-sized menu for takeout. Food can be ordered ahead of time and picked up in two locations: in the Crossroads or at the entrance to Catering Services on the east side of the MC.
“The Crossroads has been happy to help make sure the students remaining in Rexburg and staff still working on campus have food options close by,” Anderson said.
Mental health of BYU-Idaho students always a priority
BYU-Idaho is concerned about each student’s mental health and well-being. Even with all the changes that have taken place, the BYU-Idaho Counseling Center has adapted to the necessities of the student body to meet its primary purposes.
“We exist to help students be more successful by not letting their emotional challenges interfere with their functioning in academic, social, and spiritual matters, and anything that might come going forward,” said Counseling Center Director Reed Stoddard.
“Although we have had the capacity to meet with students remotely before, we have only relied on online meetings because of the circumstances.”
When the spring semester starts, counselors will continue to meet with students remotely with some exceptions as to which students will be able to rely on the services the Counseling Center provides.
“We are only able to meet through remote counseling with students that are residing within the state of Idaho, due to our licenses,” Stoddard clarified.
For the spring semester, students living outside of Idaho will have to seek counseling services within their own home states for counseling and therapy.
Stoddard still considers that remote conferences are of great aid for those who decide to use the services provided by the school.
“If some students prefer to meet face to face, we encourage them to find local resources where they could still meet face to face, although there may not be many therapists doing face-to-face meetings right now. That is why we encourage students to take advantage of what is available, and remember that this is simply temporary. One day we will be able to meet again,” said Stoddard.
He added on the importance of learning from the current circumstances, and talked about not giving in to fear.
“‘To adapt’ is the key word. We all have had to change the way we function, socially and professionally. It is important not to focus on the frustration and the fear of things but more on being grateful on what we do have.”
If any student that resides in the state of Idaho would like to take advantage of the BYU-Idaho counseling services, please direct them to www.byui.edu/counseling-center/. For direct appointments, students can call 208-496-9370.
Faculty learn new techniques for remote teaching through Zoom meetings
Faculty members have been attending trainings on how to best use Zoom and were provided with tips for remote teaching as they have been working through this transition from teaching in the classroom. Two or three featured faculty members shared their remote teaching ideas and practices with their collegues in an online Zoom round-up discussion.
These round-up discussions were orchestrated by David Ashby, Director of Learning Innovation and Technology, Brian Schmidt Instructional Resources and Support Director, and Arlen Wilcock, Academic Technology Manager, in an attempt to gather ideas for other faculty in each of their online classrooms. They discussed how to use Zoom for live classes, how to engage students in breakout sessions, how to assess student knowledge and skills remotely, how to do remote proctoring, how to build classroom community, and other principles of remote teaching.
“Our idea was to gather faculty around remote teaching functions and not tools. We polled college deans and department chairs to find out which teachers were doing some noteworthy things in their remote teaching. We put together an initial list of topics and invited about 30 faculty to hear our idea to have them “rip back the curtain” on their remote teaching,” Ashby shared.
Ashby, Schmidt, and Wilcock are planning on organizing more small sessions like these such as ice breakers and classroom culture in activities, settings, and Zoom advanced sessions.
“Since we believe that ‘revelation is scattered among us,’–we want to provide means where faculty can meet together, collaborate, and innovate as we strive to provide the best learning experiences we can, regardless of the mode of delivery. Ultimately, we hope to create effective and engaging courses that help students learn and become intelligent and talented sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father,” Ashby added.
These round up discussions can be viewed at www.learningandteaching.byui.edu/events.
Academic advisors available to help during this time
During these uncertain times, BYU-Idaho students may have questions or concerns about their degree planning, major and career exploration, and other related questions. Thanks to BYU-Idaho’s Career & Academic Advising office, planning does not have to be put on hold, and they can receive all the mentoring and advice they need now.
Career & Academic Advising Administrative Coordinator Haley Krumblis expressed how the office has adapted to serving students remotely.
“Our full-time advisors, as well as our student employees (peer advisors), are now working from home with the university’s I.T. support. We are fully functioning and available to help students with career and academic advising,” Krumblis said.
Krumblis also shared her feelings about not working in the office and the blessings of working with technology.
“We miss seeing our students face to face, meeting with colleagues and departments on campus, and the overall campus environment,” Krumblis said. “We are thankful for the technology that allows us to continue to move the work forward in working with students, training and development, and participating in campus conversations. Our advisors are here for the students to help navigate their options at this time.”
Career & Academic Advising is still fully functioning and meeting with students. Advisors are still able to meet via Zoom or by phone. Many of the planning resources are available to students independent of meeting with Advising, such as Grad Planner. Students may contact the Advising Office by phone at 208-496-1411 or by email at email@example.com. For Grad Plan assistance, students can join a new Facebook group Career & Academic Advising has organized: www.facebook.com/groups/gradplan/