Student, faculty and staff safety has been a hot topic of discussion and is of the utmost importance to the University of Oklahoma and the Gibbs College of Architecture. You can learn more about Gibbs College efforts and share your own feedback here.

To help address these concerns, we recently spoke with Gibbs College program directors to find out what adjustments being made to their programs to ensure student, faculty and staff safety, while supporting learning outcomes.

Below, Director of the Haskell and Irene Lemon Division of Construction Science Ben Bigelow shares responses to some frequently asked questions.

Q: How are classes in your program being handled or adjusted this semester in light of COVID-19, and how does this differ from a typical semester?

A: Larger classes are online; one course has been split into two sections.

Q: Can you say how you expect this will impact student learning? What special ways will faculty in your program be working to support students?

A: There are obvious impacts to going online, and we’re doing the best we can to mitigate those impacts. The measures being taken are specific to each faculty member and their classes.

Q: Students in your program work on unique projects that have different needs, work cycles, project lengths and outcomes that are unique from other programs in the college and on campus. Can you give examples of some of those projects, how they have worked in the past, and how you expect them to be adapted this semester?

A: This is really a question for specific faculty and what they are doing in their classes. But, I have one class that I plan to have us meet outside in camp chairs using zoom on their devices so they can see my visual aids. We’ve had companies offer virtual site visits; that I expect faculty will take advantage of.

Q: Returning students are uncertain regarding how the next semester will unfold. Please share some advice or suggestions that may help students navigate this semester in your program and prepare to learn given any special changes or adjustments that are being made?

A: I recommend making time for office hours, whether they are in person or virtual. Students should make it a point to go talk to all of their instructors every week or two during office hours. Also, treat school like a job, designate your working hours, and go to work.  That also means finding a place to work (preferably not your couch where the tv or other distractions will be problems).

Q: Parents may have concerns about these same changes and adjustments. What insights might you offer parents who are concerned about the possible negative impacts of these changes? How can you assure them that their students are getting a valuable education/experience this fall?

A: Our faculty are working hard to deliver effective classes in whatever format they have been assigned, in the case of online delivery, faculty are spending significantly more time spent preparing for class because they all want the students to learn and understand the materials.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with our students/prospective students and their parents as we prepare for the Fall 2020 semester?

A: I encourage parents to ask their students specific questions about their classes and what the students are doing to stay on top of them.  Make them accountable to someone beyond the professor.