On March 17, 2020, Missouri State University students, faculty and staff members were notified that all on-campus courses would be making the transition online for the remainder of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During these challenging times, the MSU Marketing Department believes it is important to share information that can help students and faculty members succeed through the end of the semester. A number of professors in the Marketing Department have shared their experiences with moving online and advice for students and faculty who may be having difficulty during these times.
A common challenge shared among faculty members is the lack of ability to interact with students. Dr. Rebecca Rast, Principles of Marketing and Supply Chain professor, says, “the biggest challenge has been trying to connect with students in a different format.” Professors value the relationships they build with students and enjoy having the opportunity to work with them in a real-world environment. Moving online has challenged this expectation, forcing them to reconfigure their courses to make them more interactive.
Another challenge of moving online is highlighted by Dr. Jamie Grigsby, Consumer Behavior, Principles of Advertising and Creative Advertising professor. Grigsby says, “students in seated classes enrolled in seated classes for a reason – to have that in-person communication.” Without the classroom environment, it makes it more difficult for students and faculty to develop a class community, establish communication channels and share important information about the class.
The change has also offered a number of challenges for students. Some of the most asked questions professors have received relate to schedule changes. For some traditional courses, like Dr. Josh Coleman’s Principles of Advertising and Contemporary Issues in Advertising classes, many assignments have been altered to account for the additional time off. “Nearly every assignment has been adjusted in some way,” says Coleman. “I really appreciate my students’ flexibility and adaptiveness during this time!
For some students in unique courses, like those in Samantha Francka’s Advertising Campaigns class, the future of their semester was unclear. As the Ad Team is competing in a national competition with other universities, their main concern related to the status of the contest. “EdVenture Partners is still facilitating a competition,” says Francka, and students are forced to work on a condensed schedule. As a team, they are dedicating more of their free time to successfully completing the project.
Although the transition has been challenging, professors have shared some tips to help students and faculty succeed. Dr. Alex Hamwi, who teaches Sales Management and Personal Selling, says it is important for everyone to communicate if they are having difficulties. “If you don’t tell someone, no one will know there is a problem.”
Being flexible is also important, suggests Dr. Allen Schaefer. Schaefer teaches Personal Selling, Advanced Selling and International Marketing and says that students and professors should be “open to learning and trying new methods and approaches.”
Carly Pierson, a Principles of Marketing instructor, says keeping a list of tasks is essential to success during this time to prevent important projects from falling through the cracks. Staying on top of tasks can make it easier for everyone to get through these tough times and succeed together.
Beyond these recommendations, professors also offer some simple tips for students who aren’t familiar with online classes:
- Dive into Blackboard and learn more about what resources your class is offering
- Check emails and due dates regularly
- Communicate with professors and peers
- Create a routine for doing classwork
- Keep track of assignment due dates
- Don’t put off classwork until the due date
The shift to online courses hasn’t been all bad, however. Many faculty members reported they enjoy using video conferencing tools and plan on expanding their office hours to include digital meetings. “I have learned that the virtual setting is more personal and more casual than even meeting face to face in my office,” says Grigsby.
For his Principles of Advertising class, Coleman’s students are developing an integrated marketing campaign for a local food delivery service. Since this change isn’t limited to just the university, the business must also adjust their plans. Coleman says, “this is a great way for students to contribute to a local business with timely and relevant information.” By continuing this project, both students and the Springfield business community will be able to grow from this experience.
Dr. Christina Simmers, Marketing Management and Advanced Marketing professor, also noted a positive outcome of the shift, sharing that the transition has made everyone come closer together. “I think the most positive experience I’ve had is how all the faculty is reaching out to each other to ask questions and share ideas. It gives me a real sense of community and that we are all in this together,” says Simmers.
Department Head Dr. Ismet Anitsal offers words of encouragement, saying that it is important for students, faculty and staff to stay positive and finish the semester strong. “I am incredibly proud of everyone’s ability to adjust, succeed and be resilient in such an ambiguous environment. I cannot wait to welcome everyone back to our beautiful campus again soon.”
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