USNA Begins Remote Academic Instruction
POSTED ON: Friday, March 20, 2020 6:24 PM by MC2 Josiah Pearce
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — For the first time, U.S. Naval Academy faculty and staff are implementing an entirely remote, online learning system to resume classes Friday, March 20.
Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck delayed the return of the Brigade of Midshipmen after spring break to protect the health and welfare of the midshipmen, faculty, staff, and coaches in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The system will utilize synchronous learning, where midshipmen receive live online instruction and feedback simultaneously, as well as asynchronous learning, where midshipmen complete coursework such as test taking or viewing recorded lectures and materials at their own pace. This allows faculty to decide which resources will work best in a given situation and provide options to those midshipmen without reliable online access.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the faculty to sharpen their teaching skills,” said Karyn Sproles, Center for Teaching and Learning director. “I have already seen the faculty come up with creative solutions that might well turn out to be more effective than what we have been doing.”
The USNA Center for Teaching and Learning, part of the academic dean’s office, is hosting workshops on remote-learning platforms such as Panopto, Google Classroom, and Blackboard to support USNA faculty as they adapt their classroom curriculum to online courses that deliver effective remote instruction.
“I am confident that our faculty will be able to deliver our academic curriculum in a way that maintains our high quality of education,” said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Waters. “In some cases, our teaching and learning may not be as superior as it normally is (e.g., since we cannot deliver face-to-face or hands-on experiences such as labs and project-based learning experiences), but I am sure the overall academic experience will still be excellent. Our faculty and staff are quite creative and incredibly dedicated to our midshipmen.”
To support the unprecedented demand to create online material, USNA’s Multimedia Support Center stood up three rooms where faculty and staff can record video or audio lectures to be made available to students online.
“I think this new system could change the way USNA [academics] operates in the future,” said April Edwards, a Cyber Science department professor. “I don’t think USNA would ever go completely online, because the mission is more than just academic learning, but instead, I would like to see a mix of new techniques used and the potential to handle situations where people are sick or injured and need to make up work.”
There is currently no date for the return to in-person classes.
“We will certainly go back to the traditional face-to-face learning system as soon as possible,” said Sproles. “Nothing beats personal contact, but I think we will go back with additional tools that will help us accomplish our learning objectives.”
As the undergraduate college of our country's naval service for 175 years, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.