Online transition

Weston Hopkins and Selena Buitrago

With the potential threat of the COVID-19 virus spreading in the Contra Costa Community College District, Los Medanos College will begin a trial period of online-only lecture classes in place of face-to-face lectures for the targeted time period of March 16 to April 13. 

The campus will remain open to students, but that is subject to change depending on how the situation advances.

As it currently stands, students will have the option to utilize student services and technological support from the school. 

According to the Contingency Plan for Alternate Instruction, laid out by the LMC Academic Senate during an emergency meeting March 11, these services include “the Child Study Center, the Center for Academic Support, the Math Lab, English/Writing Labs, the library, and all computer labs.”

While the campus will remain open for the time-being, Canvas will increase traffic from not only students, but also LMC staff members. 

According to the Canvas website, “Canvas simplifies teaching, elevates learning, and eliminates the headaches of supporting and growing traditional learning technologies.”

Canvas provides many resources for increased ease of communication and learning between professors and students. Professors can add discussion topics to Canvas that require students to work together, a list of assignments, their due dates, quizzes, post videos and power points. 

Canvas also has programs that can connect teachers with students in real-time, such as Zoom and Starfish.

“In the math department we’re talking about using Zoom,” said statistics instructor Charles Twitchell. 

According to Zoom’s website, “Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat, and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones, and room systems.” 

The use of Zoom can mitigate the lack of face-to-face interactions that many students and teachers are concerned with. 

Starfish is part of LMC Connect, which is “an ‘early alert’ technology and communication tool that will help the LMC community identify students who need additional support in real time and connect students with critical resources,” according to the LMC website.

Starfish allows teachers to use a “flags” and “kudos” system to raise concerns or positively reinforce students related to their performance. 

Although there are many resources, a change from face-to-face lectures to online classes is a drastic shift for many professors and students who may not have used Canvas before.

The concerns for the change range from issues navigating an online class, to not having internet access at home or students struggling to adapt in an online environment. 

“My biggest concern online is trying to meet what’s online compliant or ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. If we’re going to move labs online, I need additional support,” said art instructor Eric Sanchez.  

With the influx of users on Canvas due to the COVID-19 virus, there has been a concern on whether the server can accommodate the amount of new users. 

According to an email from Satish Warrier, the Director of Information Technology for the Contra Costa Community College district, “Canvas is hosted by the vendor in the Amazon cloud and like many other higher education institutions they should be able to handle the influx of traffic.”

A concern for Insite and Canvas users is a new cyber scam that came to fruition recently. In an email sent out by the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, they warn of a new COVID-19 cyber scam. 

“Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.”

While most students and teachers are sharing their issues with changing to only online classes, some students are okay with the change.

“I’ve taken a lot of online classes. I personally prefer online classes, I don’t enjoy lectures at all,” said student Jae Wakefield. 

The district has decided to move lecture classes online until further notice, to ensure health and safety of all students and staff on campus and prevent spreading of the virus to other individuals outside of the campus premises.