The Home We Love So Well: Stories from Home Series
Learning Everything Remotely Possible
One month ago, the Huntingdon campus came to a full stop, pivoting to a whole new way of learning as the novel coronavirus turned the academic world—in fact, the whole world—upside down.
On March 12, students were notified of an extended spring break beginning March 16. On March 19, the College announced the decision to move classes online beginning March 30, and the week that was to have been spring break (March 23–27) became, for faculty, one of reshaping how learning would look for the rest of the semester.
But students and faculty have soared to the challenge, with examples of ingenuity, determination, and the deepest care.
“The Huntingdon faculty has been beyond amazing during all of this unexpected craziness,” says Lauren Stehl ’21. “Professors and other staff have not only checked up on how we are adjusting to remote learning but also how we are mentally and physically holding up through all of this.”
“It is no surprise that the Huntingdon faculty has remained the best throughout this situation,” echoes Margaret Rhodes ’21. “From Facebook posts, tweets, and emails I know I have felt constant love and support from our faculty and staff—[which] really makes me feel loved and truly a part of the Huntingdon College family.”
Quick response to questions and the ability to have both real-time lectures on Zoom (an online meeting software) and taped lectures and Zoom meetings for viewing at student-determined times have allowed students to adapt to virtual college classes. “Most of my professors offer live lectures throughout the week to help us learn the material and hold us accountable for the notes. But they are also understanding that we have things going on at home, so they record the lectures and put them on Canvas [the College’s online learning management system] so you can access them at any time,” says Alexis Louk ’21.
Koby Townsend ’21 has also been impressed by his faculty members’ outreach. “Dr. Jeremy Lewis (political science) has created assignments that are easy to complete through Canvas and is always responsive to our needs during our class Zoom meetings. Dr. Chris Clark (business) has done a great job of recording and putting his lectures online so we can reference them at any time. And Dr. Cinzia Balit-Moussalli (economics) has been awesome—responding to student needs and providing voluntary Zoom meetings during the week to answer questions. No other body of professors like the ones at Huntingdon could have made the transition any smoother!”
The personal touch means everything at Huntingdon, where “feels like home” and “feels like family” are the two most often-cited responses when students are asked what they love most about the College. That’s why the familiar is so important—especially in these strange and jarring circumstances.
“I was very nervous about having to do all of my classes online,” says Claire Tomberlin ’21. “Dr. Kristi Copping (psychology) is posting her PowerPoints online with audio recordings to go along with them, which helps because she is still going into detail about the topics just like we are in class. She also continues to make me laugh so much, just like in class, because she still tells jokes, calls on specific people in the class and pauses for a response, and incorporates interactive activities to do at home that go with the PowerPoint.”
“Dr. Claire Bridges (sport science) has gone out of her way to keep it normal,” says Amanda Crowell ’21. “The assignments are set up the same way they were when we were physically at Huntingdon, so there was no panic about a new schedule. She emails us almost every day to remind us of assignments due. I love knowing that even though we aren’t in the classroom, her students are always on her mind.”
Coco Burgess ’21 adds, “Every week Dr. Bridges sends a cute motivational picture on the email.”
Even the simple things make a difference, says Zach Ledbetter ’22. Dr. Blake Ball (history) begins each lecture by “stating his well-known catch-phrase with a little tweak, ‘Good morning. Welcome to another beautiful day here at virtual Huntingdon College. Every day is beautiful here in Alabama.'”
“One of the best interactions I’ve had in remote learning has been with Dr. Jennifer Fremlin (English),” says Laura Vermillion ’21. “She’s been ready to accommodate me to make sure I learn as much as possible on my own (and I’ve learned a lot!). Not only that, but she checks in on me, and goes beyond the simple, ‘How are you?’ Her class helps bridge the distance between me and the school I miss tremendously.”
Students cite numerous examples of innovative approaches that have kept learning interesting, such as Prof. Elissa Mays (mathematics) creating YouTube videos to demonstrate how to work out problems; Prof. Jaime Demick (physics) giving students a weather tracking lab, for which they used a weather app on their phones to check the atmospheric pressure and make weather predictions where they live; and Dr. Jim Daniels and Prof. Gabrielle Ehinger (biology) posting “Backyard Botany” videos about the different plant species in their yard.
Some students enjoy the freedom online learning offers, allowing them to learn in their PJs, take a quiz while on the beach, or complete an assignment “by a creek while watching a Jake in a greenfield” (Dylan Powell ’21). ” It’s been nice to be able to wake up and learn on my own terms,” says Hedi Docking ’21. “Yes, I have assignments due at certain times and dates, but I am in charge of how fast or slow I learn something new.” An added bonus for some: no 8:00 a.m. classes.
“With remote learning you have the ability to say, ‘hold on, I didn’t quite get that,’ and pause the lecture videos, which is valuable when it comes to learning,” says Ke’Darius Thornton ’21.
“Remote learning has given me a greater appreciation for all of my professors and the Huntingdon staff members as well; it makes it easier knowing that even though we aren’t on campus at the moment, everyone is only an email away!” says Megan Ventry ’21. “The support and the camaraderie of the students and staff is still shown and felt every day. I miss my college home so much and cannot wait to be back!”
Students are facing other new pressures while learning from home, just as the rest of the world copes with the pandemic. Some are making face masks for friends or delivering meals to first responders and health care workers; others have lost their home jobs or have family members who have lost their jobs; and all have to adjust to a life isolated from friends and from the “home we love so well.”
“During this time I turn to a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” says Amber Ford ’21: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
Alyssa Lear ’22 has some advice for her classmates who might be anxious about online learning: “Take a breath, it will all be okay. Start writing out your daily assignments each day for the week in your planner or a dry erase board. Manage your time, don’t sleep in till 3 in the afternoon! Don’t put off your assignments until later, the sooner done the better. I know it’s hard, but we’re in this together, Hawks!”
30 Huntingdon students contributed information for this story, and we thank you for sharing your perspectives!
for Marketing and Communications
1500 E. Fairview Ave., Montgomery, AL 36106
(O) (334) 833-4515; (C) (334) 324-6591