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About a third of UND courses go online post-Thanksgiving

All of UND’s finals will be conducted remotely and this year’s winter commencement ceremony will again be held virtually.

030620.N.GFH.Debbie Storrs
Debbie Storrs, pictured in this Herald file photo, senior vice provost at UND, will become the leader of the university's academic affairs beginning June 1. John Stennes / Grand Forks Herald

Around one-third of UND’s courses are being delivered online following the Thanksgiving break.

About 67% of UND’s classes are being delivered through face-to-face or hybrid methods, while about 33% are being delivered online only.

Those numbers are about a 10% difference compared to the beginning of the semester when about 23% of courses were online only and about 77% were a mix of in-person and hybrid methods.

The number of online courses transitioned throughout the semester, interim UND Provost Debbie Storrs said. Increases in courses going online typically corresponded with spikes in COVID-19 cases related to campus, she said. In some instances, there was an increase in online courses because there were fewer students who chose to physically go to class, so the instructor responded by moving the course online.

“Sometimes, it wasn't only the faculty making the decision. It was taking into consideration the behavior of students,” she said. “It's been hard to meet everybody's needs, but we're trying the best we can. The thing I think I'm the most proud of is the work on the part of faculty to really make this a quality online experience -- much, much better than what happened in the spring.”

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Students were sent home early in the spring semester due to the coronavirus pandemic and finished their work online. This fall, classes were back in session on campus with a mix of in-person, online and hybrid courses.

All of UND’s finals will be conducted remotely and this year’s winter commencement ceremony will again be held virtually.

Other area colleges are seeing a mix of in-person and online courses as the semester closes out.

Mayville State is allowing students to choose how they want to finish their courses for the rest of the semester.

“Students haven’t been asked to make a decision one way or the other,” Beth Swenson, director of public relations with Mayville State, said in an email. “Instead, they have the flexibility to do what is best for them at any time through the end of the fall semester. Thus, the number of students studying on campus and/or taking classes online could vary from day to day.”

Swenson said the university estimates that about 45% of students “who had been attending classes on campus are continuing to do so.”

“While a number of students are taking classes online, a large percentage of them continue to live on campus and in the Mayville area,” she said.

Lake Region State says its housing data shows about 35 students stayed over the Thanksgiving break, while 56 students indicated that they’d be returning after the break. An additional 76 students who were living in the residence halls chose to leave the campus and finish the rest of the semester through synchronized classes.

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North Dakota State said its HyFlex instructional model allows students and faculty to participate in class remotely or in-person on any given day and “because of the flexible nature of this style of learning, data is not kept on in-person vs. remote learning.”

As UND moves forward in planning for the next semester, Storrs said there are a few lessons to take away from the end of the spring semester and this fall, including the importance of communication and having resources available to make in-person, online and hybrid learning work.

“Students want to learn in a different way,” she said. “How can we take some of the skills that faculty have developed (this year), and the flexibility that they provided and continue to provide that in the future?"

Storrs said there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all approach” to learning and teaching during a pandemic. Faculty have different ideas for what works best for course delivery and students may need different supports when they engage in courses electronically, she said.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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