By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma –The world is undergoing huge changes and todays’ life as we know it has had to adjust to many changes. One of those changes is the virtual classrooms.
Most schools are now offering online schooling as a new approach to learning during the current COVID-19 pandemic. With this shift in learning, it is important to make sure students remain successful in their education. Though most colleges have been using online as a forum for teaching the amount of virtual learning has increased.
College of the Muscogee Nation Criminal Justice Program Coordinator and Instructor Cheryl Najera said she has seen the shift herself at her own workplace when CMN went completely online due to COVID-19 in March.
Najera has experience in online learning as a student while pursuing her own education, as well as being an instructor who is teaching online classes at the College of Muscogee Nation.
According to Najera, CMN is offering two different virtual learning settings. One setting is a completely online schedule where students get the material online on the schools learning website Desire 2 Learn. The other offers Zoom meetings and lectures to offer a more “in class” feel for those who may do better in a classroom setting.
“Online has been an adjustment for us,” Najera said. “It’s a lot of work on the backend on the instructor’s side getting the material put in the software.”
“It has its pros and cons.”
Though appealing to learning styles can be a struggle in online format, Najera still keeps an open-door policy offering one-on-one instruction with any students who may need it.
“Coming from a student standpoint, in online classes, the material is put up and it’s up to each student to read through it and understand it,” Najera said. “A lot of people can’t learn that way. We try to offer one-on-one by video conference to give extra attention to those students who may not quite understand the material.”
According to Najera, some students do well in online and some students may want or need a little more.
“Learning is basically what is going to work best for the student,” she said. “I am an independent worker, but the one thing that was crucial as a student was to have discipline.”
Many factors play a role in chosing online education.
“It was convenient for me because I worked,” Najera said. “I had deadlines to meet but I could do it at midnight or in the morning as long as I got it done by the deadline.”
“The access to it was really what I liked and for a lot of working adults it’s crucial for them to have that flexibility.”
The flexibility may be convenient for some, including working parents who have to also make sure the child is keeping up in virtual schooling.
“For me, a major distraction was my family,” Najera said. “You have to find a quiet place to be able to concentrate and be undisturbed for a couple hours.”
Without the classroom and the face-to-face interaction, it may be hard for teachers to be able to tell if a student is struggling with work and understanding the coursework.
Najera said that remaining in contact with the teachers and instructors is a key to successful online learning.
“There are many ways for students to be successful online, regardless of level of schooling,” Najera said. “There are many programs out there for anyone who may be struggling.”
“I have a relative who teaches at Wetumka Public Schools and she has had to adjust as well.”
Najera thinks that technology can be a challenge for some.
“Some parents may not be familiar with technology so it’s an adjustment for them as well to learn,” She said.
Time-blocking is an effective way of finding time to get online schooling done and remaining successful. For some kids, this will be the first test of time management skills.
“Teaching elementary kids is a lot different than older kids or even college students. Parents have to find that block of time and set them down and help them to concentrate and focus to be able to get online and do the schoolwork,” Najera said. “Try to offer them as much help as possible by being that point of contact and answering questions.”
For parents or students struggling with new online learning should contact their professor, instructor or teacher for resources and programs that assist in online learning. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Education and Training has also developed a distance learning platform to help aide in the new world of distance learning. This can be accessed at https://www.mcnstep.com