College of Business faculty and students successfully adapt to virtual learning environment

Published: October 27, 2020 Author: Bri Schoepf

While adjusting to online learning has been a unique challenge for everyone, College of Business faculty have been implementing tactics into their courses to ensure that students are still having the most beneficial experience and learning as efficiently as possible while not being in a physical classroom. 

Hazel Dadanlar, professor of business strategy, has been focusing on her students’ needs and helping them excel beyond the course objectives. She set up a discussion board at the beginning of the semester asking students about their expectations from her and found that students expressed a common concern that it is more challenging to manage virtual classes and stay organized than it is to manage in-person classes. 

As a result, Dadanlar shared videos and tips about how to stay organized, but also provided a way for students to teach each other by creating and sharing their own content. As an extra credit opportunity, she asked students to create a five-minute-long video about helpful tips and ideas for staying organized, including visuals and even humor.

“I think they have done a great job of putting together informative content about how they stay focused, organized, and most importantly, sane during their online learning journey,” Dadanlar said. “I truly hope that it inspires and helps other students on this very challenging issue.”

To encourage students to participate, she offered extra credit points to each student who created a video and the top three received the points, in addition to an Amazon gift card. This project not only gave students the chance to improve their grade and learn more about organization and time management, but also allows them to showcase their creativity on their resume, in interviews, on social media, and on their personal websites. 

One of Dadanlar’s students, Emily Hartman, a senior studying marketing and management, was eager to participate in this extra credit opportunity. The focus of her video was to share a hobby that she picked up during quarantine that continues to help her stay organized in a creative way—bullet journaling. 

“This project allowed a medium for us to share ideas and tips with those who can benefit the most from our knowledge,” said Hartman. “Professor Dadanlar has been a great resource for me throughout this class. She was genuinely excited to understand our strategies for online learning because she knows how crucial learning from each other is right now. Being able to apply information learned in a course through personal anecdotes and stories helps make concepts more memorable and enjoyable to learn.” 

Another student who participated in Dadanlar’s extra credit opportunity was Matthew Kontra, a senior studying management information systems, business analytics, and sales, who concentrated his video on providing helpful suggestions to combat the difficulties that arise in the virtual landscape by explaining the methods he uses to ease his life and education. Kontra enjoyed this project because it served as a positive reminder that these times are only tough if you allow them to be. 

“At Ohio University, I have earned an education where I am comfortable and confident in transitioning into my professional career and have grown significantly as a young adult,” Kontra said. “I owe a portion of this to sitting in class with professors whose talent I would argue rivals any classroom in the world. This project served as a strong reminder that online classes do not have to be intimidating or ineffective and that the benefits that you receive from them is largely based on your own effort.” 

Shawnee Meek
Professor Shawnee Meek teaches Strategic Business Communication in the Ohio University College of Business.

Shawnee Meek is another professor who is adapting her Strategic Business Communication course to the online learning environment. In order to learn how to properly help her students excel throughout this challenging semester, Meek completed both parts of Ohio University’s Instructional Strategies for Remote and Online Teaching, Remote Teaching Fundamentals: Basic Course Set-Up and Creating Community & Instruction Design Consultation, and MS Teams Workshop & Consultation. 

Throughout these training sessions, Meek learned that having a good course navigation on Blackboard can greatly improve students’ experiences in the course. She also learned that being cognizant and sensitive to students’ home environments, especially regarding the use of webcams in class is important to keep in mind because students may feel insecure about their home space and may not have privacy at home. 

To address these areas, Meek showed her students how to use virtual backgrounds on the first day of class to make them more comfortable turning on their webcams. Using webcams encourages class engagement, fosters deeper connections, and creates an in-person feel. She also added a folder on Blackboard focusing on well-being resources offered through Ohio University to help students navigate challenges and find the support they need. To make Blackboard easier to use, she added due dates to the learning modules folder so that students would not need to look back and forth between the due dates listed in the syllabus and in the learning modules.

“Professor Meek has taken on the challenge of providing the best learning experience for her students,” said Elijah Justice, a sophomore in Meek’s class. “She has done an excellent job with being available for her students, providing an education that is second to none, and making this semester as stress-free as possible. Overall, based on the education that I’ve received so far from Professor Meek, I’m very happy that she’s my professor and that I’m an OHIO bobcat.”  

Additionally, Meek has been dedicating more time to scaffolding, since that is even more important in a virtual learning environment. She guides her students through every step of their assignments to ensure that they have practiced a skill several times and received feedback before submitting their assignments. Prior to submitting an assignment, Meek provides a grading rubric and instructs students to meet in their team channels to apply what they learned. Students construct a sentence that they would incorporate in the assignment and meet back in the virtual class to type their sentence into the chat. She then reads those out loud, provides feedback, shares her screen, and combines their responses to create an executive summary, so students can see the process in real time, while also seeing an example. 

“I do everything possible to ensure students have the best virtual experience. I strive to bring enthusiasm and positivity to each virtual class and individual meeting. To maximize my impact, I attempt to create a positive environment where students feel they are cared for and a space where students feel they are being heard,” said Meek. “I check the pulse of each class to see how students are feeling, see what’s going on in their lives, and I ask what I can do to help with any challenges. When students feel seen and heard, and they have their basic needs met, they are able to focus on their academics and manifest success personally, professionally, and academically.”