OSU senior Reagan Mitchell made a relatively smooth transition to online learning this spring semester even as the novel coronavirus created uncertainty as it began spreading across the United States.
Although the Stillwater native is hopeful that her final semester as a Cowboy allows for on-campus learning and time with friends, Mitchell, who is scheduled to graduate in December, understands she may be taking courses online at a moment’s notice if a spike of COVID-19 cases occurs.
“My resolve is that regardless if we are on campus or not, this time has proven to me that relationships don’t have to suffer,” she said.
The strategic communications major and her roommates helped each other the final eight weeks of the spring semester by establishing a schedule to work on their studies.
“Accountability for me with other people really played a role in staying successful and engaged through the end of the semester,” Mitchell said.
That’s not to say the 15-credit load was easy. It wasn’t.
“I underestimated how difficult the transition to online school would actually be,” Mitchell said. “There is a level of accountability that I think you lack a little bit online that you don’t lack when you are on campus because you have professors, classmates and mentors and people coaching you all the time to do your best.”
Mitchell is grateful to Dr. Asya Cooley, her teacher and supervisor of OSU’s National Student Advertising Competition team.
“Her adaptations made our success as a team possible during the online transition,” Mitchell said.
The 24 students in the class had to create a six-month advertising plan for Adobe to raise awareness for Adobe Experience Cloud for Advertisers, among other digital advertising platforms.
Once the school year went entirely online, students presented their 20-minute plan via Zoom.
“That experience taught me and my teammates the difficulty of designing a good campaign and the importance of being able to adjust on the fly,” Mitchell said. “The online competition really challenged all of us as presenters to still be animated, well-rehearsed and full of personality even though we were doing it over a Zoom call.”
The team placed third against colleges from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
A Changed Atmosphere
Cooley said going online only resulted in an unexpected change among her students.
“Many students lost steam,” she said. “The most engaged students became even more enthusiastic while the least engaged student almost completely disconnected from the group.”
Still, Cooley remains confident in the future of online learning.
“OSU leadership and the College of Arts and Science in particular have been very good at providing resources for online teaching,” Cooley said. “We don’t know what future holds, but I am confident in university administration in handling the situation. I believe that the teaching arm of universities (not just ours) is not going to be the same. The quicker we learn from this experience, the more resilient we will be in the future.”
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