Classes mostly online again for spring

After conducting a community-wide survey of students, faculty and staff, OCCC announced Oct. 30 that most classes will be online for the spring 2021 semester.

“Based on the continued rise of COVID cases in Oklahoma and around the country, combined with overwhelming feedback from all our stakeholders, we will be online for Spring 2021 classes,” Provost Jeremy Thomas said in an email to all faculty and staff.

Thomas said the results of the survey that was sent out Oct. 20, and closed Oct. 29, show students, faculty and staff prefer for classes to be online in the spring.

That is, if the survey results are accurate.

According to the survey data provided by Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations Erick Worrell, there were 3,288 responses to the survey, in which 70.3% prefer for most classes to be online in the spring.

There were 3,288 responses to the survey out of a total of 13,590 students, faculty and staff enrolled and/or employed at OCCC.

“Faculty made up 7.4% of respondents, and favored online classes
(77.2%) to in-person classes (22.8%). Staff made up 6.1% of respondents,
and favored online classes (82.1%) to in-person classes (17.9%). Students made up 86.5% of respondents, and favored online classes (68.8%) to in-person classes (31.2%) Overall, the entire pool of respondents preferred online classes (70.3%) to in-person classes (29.7%),” Worrell said.

There are 649 faculty members employed at OCCC, Worrell said.

Of them and according to the data Worrell provided, approximately 243 faculty members completed the survey.

Faculty Association Chair George Risinger said he was grateful the college administrators took so much input from stakeholders and used the results of the survey to make the choice to have mostly online classes.

“From the faculty I have heard from, the response has generally been positive, both in regards to the survey and the announcement,” Risinger said.

English Professor Jennifer Jenson said she was happy with the survey and its results being used to decide for spring classes to be online.

“This was a difficult decision, and basing it on input from all concerned groups creates a feeling of community as we work together to do the best thing for everyone,” she said.

There are 12,618 students enrolled at OCCC, and approximately 2,893 students completed the survey, Worrell said.

Not all students were happy with the results, however.

Student worker Tara Gray said she was unsatisfied with the outcome.

She said she noted in the survey that she wanted the classes in-person because she can learn better in a class setting.

“It’s hard doing online classes because it is like you are teaching yourself,” she said.

The survey, which was composed using Google Forms may have provided inaccurate numbers. The survey remains open and allows multiple attempts.

When a survey is completed, the form tells the respondent the survey
has been recorded and provides a blue link which reads “Submit another response.”

Gray said she wanted classes to be in-person so much so that she took
the survey twice.

A faculty member who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation also wanted classes to be in person and said he took the survey five times.

“I could have taken it more,” the faculty member said.

Gray said some students may not struggle with online classes but for those who do “it is a horrible way to have to learn.”

“It’s not fair,” Gray said.

Another student, Morgan Cusack said she took the survey, and she has decided to drop out of OCCC until classes are offered in person again.

“I’ve failed every class I’ve taken since it’s been online,” Cusack said.

Student Success Adviser Shara Hendricks said she understands the difficulties some students face. She said it is crucial that students communicate with their professors and advisers in the times of online learning.

“Online is hard and feels more separated if you don’t communicate what you need from the instructor and staff on campus,” Hendricks said.

Most classes will be online, but the campus will remain open.

“We will continue to keep campus open to those who need access to the bookstore, a hot meal, a place to study, WiFi access, the gym, the library, the Bursar’s office, student services, and in-person advisements,” Thomas said in an email.

Thomas said while dealing with the pandemic, OCCC will continue to consider everyone’s safety in hopes to form smart solutions.

“I know that the OCCC Community can stand up and get through
this difficult time,” Hendricks said.

OCCC was the only college in the metro to go completely online. Other colleges have not announced how they will proceed in the spring, but several colleges such as OU and UCO have on campus courses listed available as an option for spring 2021.