By Roger A. Bowles, MS, EdD, CBET
The last couple of months have really sucked. What a way to start out a column. But, it is true. Students and faculty have been sent home. Classes have been put online and or extended/postponed. We have lost a few students who do not want to continue in an online format. And, no one knows when things will actually get back to normal. The AAMI Exchange has been canceled. Some days, I wake up unable to remember what day it is. I am in quarantine. Watching the news, we get terms like “the new normal.”
As someone who has developed and taught classes online for several for-profit universities and even at Texas State Technical College at one time long ago, I sure hope this isn’t the case. Certain content fits online learning. Hands-on technical education doesn’t always translate well to online courses. Sure, hybrid solutions are possible, but it does take a certain type of student with certain motivations to make that happen successfully. I’m not against distance learning. For a long time, it was my passion and I worked with several universities in teaching several online courses. I enjoyed it … for the most part and for a little while. What I didn’t like was the lack of personal interaction with the students and their lack of spontaneous interaction with each other. What I didn’t like was the lack of immediacy and “in the moment” learning opportunities. What was lacking for me was the “fun” factor. Teaching is fun. Going to work every day is fun (at least for me). Sitting behind a computer all day is not fun.
However, during this time of challenges, there have been some points of light. AAMI provided our students with free access to the CBET certification course. Avante is working on ultrasound videos and solutions for our students. And, most of all, we have had to learn to be creative. With limited access to equipment and even hospitals (some hospitals are discouraging internships at this writing to prevent any unnecessary exposure to students), some activities are not possible. Yes, YouTube videos and others are nice but it is hard to learn how to do certain things by watching a video. I learned how to troubleshoot and repair my weed-eater by watching a video. But sometimes we assume a certain skill set and knowledge level when using this method of learning.
As many of you know, I also have a part-time business teaching motorcycle riding, both basic and intermediate levels. There are literally thousands of videos online to learn these methods, but it requires face-to-face and on-cycle time to really learn it and become successful at it. By the way, those have been shut down also.
On a more positive note, we have watched our health care workers shine during this time. My wife is a health care worker and several of our former students have posted on LinkedIn and Facebook about the challenges they are facing and how they are meeting these challenges. They continue to make us proud. And hey, even in quarantine, my employer continues to pay me.
What we are hearing from the people in charge is that life as we knew it in the past will not be returning to normal for the “foreseeable future.” Classes will take place, but the size of classes may be substantially reduced. Social distancing and PPE are a way of life, for now. Most lectures will be remote or online. Labs will take place but in spread out fashion with limited numbers of students. Points of entrance and exits will be enforced and cleaning/disinfection will be paramount. It sounds crazy, but we got this. We will continue to produce the highest quality of graduates, there just may be fewer of them for a while. We will continue to go to work, but the place may not always be in a building. We will continue to teach, but the methods are different. It may not be as “fun,” but we will keep our sense of humor (for now).
We’ll do a great job … a fabulous job. People won’t believe how great of a job we’ll do. It will be a tremendous success … like no other success ever. Luckily, the sense of humor is still intact. Best sense of humor ever.
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