ETBU leaders: University was proactive in preparing for full online instruction

ETBU leaders: University was proactive in preparing for full online instruction

MARSHALL, Texas (KLTV) - For many universities across the country spring break was extended for a week or more, but not at East Texas Baptist University.

WEBXTRA: ETBU officials discuss state of university during distance learning

KLTV 7s Jamey Boyum spoke with ETBU President Blair Blackburn and Provost Thomas Sanders about technology they already had in place and how their students are able to move forward toward their diploma during these challenging times.

Provost Thomas Sanders and President Blair Blackburn may look as if they’re alone on ETBUs campus in Marshall, but they’re not.

“So we have still about 170 of our students that are living on campus,” Blackburn said.

That’s down from a thousand. Blackburn says students were allowed to be wherever they felt most safe.

Of course all students are attending class through technology which had already been in place.

“We have technology embedded across the curriculum. Our faculty use their Canvas technology platform to teach their classes. So they made adjustments working with our on line education department and continued to offer the classes to the students through remote learning,” Blackburn said.

Sanders says faculty was instructed to prepare.

“So we already told faculty before spring break to have one week ready online so that if it went after spring break we’d be ready to go,” Sanders said.

Empty classrooms illustrate that instructors are now teaching from home.

“It’s requiring a lot more involvement in preparing the classes so that they maintain that connectivity to the students,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn says many students feel they’re in a big family at ETBU. So students:

“Being able to connect through video is so important,” Blackburn said.

Some students use their own technology to learn while others use that provided by the school.

“We have our custodial staff that’s immediately coming in when a student leaves from a space, they are wiping and cleaning. And we have sanitization stations,” Blackburn said.

The library is open but students may not have to go inside since:

“We’ve got a number of libraries that are working in support of faculty as well as the students providing online resource support to their learning,” Blackburn said.

So about 1,400 students are able to continue learning.

“The American people are resilient. ETBU is a resilient institution. We’re strong. We’re stable, and we’re going to be here on the other side of this,” Blackburn said.

They both feel through perseverance they will all achieve their goals.

ETBU also offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and has announced they plan on opening a clinic in Tyler in the next year or so. They will will offer employment to graduates and other qualified mental health professionals.

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