Boise State introduces new program to help maintain educational standards

Coronavirus has forced most Boise State students to enroll in online classes this fall. The university has worked since April to ensure students receive new opportunities to learn, engage and socialize. 

Christine Bauer, associate dean of Extended Studies and executive director of eCampus Center discussed the effort put forth by Boise State. 

“The pivot that we made this spring, that was a monumental shift. And it wasn’t necessarily one that we were all prepared for. The institution as a whole has made a very significant investment this summer,” Bauer said. 

Flexible Teaching for Student Success Initiative is a program created by Boise State that will help prepare faculty to deliver courses online, in person or combinations of both in the fall. During the program, faculty experienced online courses from students’ perspective, while participating in activities that gave them opportunities to develop new teaching styles and new ways to engage with students to give them the best opportunities to learn this fall. 

“What is it that we can do together to really keep each other engaged? We’re all a part of the Bronco family. How can we stay connected to one another? How can we support one another? It really is going to be a whole family effort,” Bauer said. 

Mark Wheeler, dean of Extended Studies, emphasized the importance of reaching out to advisors and faculty when students have questions or concerns. Faculty and staff have been a part of ensuring optimal education for students this fall.

“It’s not just challenging for students. It’s challenging for faculty and staff, too. Nobody truly saw COVID-19 coming to the extent that it did. We really had to re-invent everything, but I think we’re up to the task,” Wheeler said. “Our goal all along is to help students stay on track.”

Senior early childhood special education and elementary education major Courtney Biagi shared what her experience will be like as a student-teacher at Crimson Point Elementary.

According to Biagi, Kuna school district will be having a hybrid school year, in which she will get experience teaching in-person and online. Biagi is hopeful that this school year will bring new opportunities to her as an aspiring teacher, and also as a student at Boise State. 

“This is just another opportunity to learn. I’m going to be learning how to teach in-person and online, which not a lot of people get that,” Biagi said. 

Junior nursing student Alicia Maloff expressed her concerns regarding online courses this fall. 

According to Maloff, students enrolled in the nursing program require a lot of in-person meetings and lab times. With classes now being a combination of online and in-person, Maloff has mixed emotions with all the new changes. 

“When I found out I got into the nursing program, I was so excited and ready to go,” Maloff said. “But I’m starting to almost get a little bit discouraged and really anxious about the way it’s going to go with a lot of the content being online, and not being able to do all the things that you’d normally be able to do.” 

Under normal circumstances, students will complete three to four semesters of pre-requisites before enrolling in the nursing program. Once accepted, students will conduct skill and simulation labs, clinicals and attend lectures. 

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will not be any clinicals, and lab times will be reduced from three hours to 45 minutes once a week, according to Maloff. 

“It feels like I am being cheated a little bit out of my nursing education, just because you know, it’s something that I was looking forward to and I feel like a big part of the experience is almost being taken away. Another part of me feels like, what better time to start a nursing program than during a global pandemic,” Maloff said. 

Overall, Maloff remains optimistic for the future and encourages students to take time for themselves during this stressful situation. 

“With all of the crazy changes and stress going on in the world, it’s so important to just take a step, whether you get sick or not, just remember to take care of yourself and you come before your education,” Maloff said. “Take a minute to prioritize yourself during all of the craziness that life is on top of the pandemic.”

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