In response to the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the safety of Duquesne students, the University announced March 11 that classes would transition to remote/online delivery effective March 18 for the remainder of the semester.
Faculty and administrators from several campus offices—including Computing and Technology Services (CTS), Educational Technology, the Office of Classroom Technologies and the Office of Online Learning and Strategy—moved more than 9,000 students to online instruction virtually overnight.
“The efforts of the faculty and staff at Duquesne have been nothing short of Herculean at this time of challenge,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. David Dausey. “They have mobilized in an incredibly short period of time to put an entire comprehensive university online. Faculty have learned new software and tools in lightspeed to make this happen.”
To better illustrate the monumental effort, the following is a breakdown of the number of classes that were switched from the classroom or lab to completely online:
- 1,278+ lecture or seminar-based classes
- 109+ music instruction
- 68+ scientific laboratories
- 40+ recitations
- 34+ hybrid courses.
Faculty, staff and students have embraced Zoom video conferencing software to replace in-person meetings and instruction. Duquesne reported 1,581 new Zoom users with 261 Zoom training attendees from March 12 to 19, while more than 95 faculty members have moved their office hours to Zoom. In addition, the CTS Help Desk received and responded to 494 support calls and tickets during this time.
“The staff’s commitment and resilience in aiding in this process has helped it all come together,” Dausey said. “Collectively, our faculty and staff have demonstrated the very best of Duquesne.”
Some University faculty have had to get creative with the online transition. Jim Nova, brass area coordinator and adjunct professor of trombone, normally instructs ensemble groups in the Mary Pappert School of Music. Because ensemble groups can no longer meet in person, Nova has transitioned to teaching arranging and overdubbing—writing and arranging music in which each part can be recorded separately.
An example of overdubbing can be found on Nova’s YouTube channel, in which he honors the late Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Duquesne faculty member Murray Crewe with a rendition of A Chorale After Bruckner by Brian Pappal for trombone trio.
Nova’s students are also engaging in a studio-style class in which each musician plays and receives feedback from his or her peers.
“This time of fear and the sudden-but-necessary transfer to a totally different style of learning has been difficult for all,” Nova said. “But it’s been heartening to see how faculty and students alike have jumped into the deep end of the pool and figured out how to swim together. Some great creative learning methods have surfaced, many of which will be continued long after this difficult time is over.”