Posted on: November 30, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Primary PC

By Deana Elhit, Features Editor

Since last spring, COVID-19 has caused the lockdown of most schools across the United States, including Moraine Valley Community College. The Glacier is presenting a series of stories to hear MVCC professors and students talk about the experiences and challenges they are facing while making the switch to digital learning.

Teaching students to become nurses amidst a pandemic is a challenge, especially if they’re going to be on the front lines. 

Students haven’t been able to see patients since all their clinicals have been switched to online, said Megan Morales, who teaches Nursing Arts I.

The hands-on course makes not interacting with students and professors in person a much more difficult environment for learning. 

“It is harder to gauge the comprehension of students; it feels less engaging at times and it is harder to get to know the students,” Morales said.

Morales teaches four classes with 12 students in each.

“There are many outside factors that play into this COVID environment including medical issues, family challenges, technology challenges and time management issues,” she said. “I have found that I need to offer a little more grace and understanding for what other issues our students are dealing with.”

The course includes labs, which requires students to go to campus once a week for one and a half hours. The labs are kept to six students at a time to limit person-to-person contact. Students also have an online lab day once a week.

“During lab we are practicing hands-on skills while practicing social distancing. They are doing things like vital signs, specimen collection, mobility, and wound care,” Morales said. “It is hard to teach a lab course online,” she said. “We are used to having our students hands-on twice a week and that contact time is limited now which is challenging.” 

I have found that I need to offer a little more grace and understanding for what other issues our students are dealing with.

Megan Morales, Nursing Professor

The most difficult part of making the switch to online for Morales is ensuring the work she produces is understandable, engaging, and challenging for her students.

“I’m continually trying to learn better ways to present the content and evaluate the learning of my students. It feels like the job is never done,” she said.

Morales has found her students struggling with time management and mastering the content since the online switch, she says. 

 “They are not forming the same bonds they would if they were together in the traditional setting,” she said.

Adjustments such as online proctoring for exams had to be made, and the online environment has made it harder for students to work in groups.

Morales plans to “continue to try and make sure the students are progressing in their skills and knowledge formation to help them be successful moving through our program.” She said she would rather teach “in person hands down.”