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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Faculty and Staff

COVID-19 Updates: Lessons Learned from Spring Semester

Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank everyone who attended the VCEA Town Hall last Friday. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the video here.

With 200 participants on Zoom, we were able to have breakout sessions and discuss the successes and challenges of spring semester, some of which included:

Academic Success: Lessons Learned 

  • Personal interaction/connection is very important, and can be done remotely.  Instructors need to be available for students to ask questions, ask for assistance or even just a friendly “Hi”.
  • Student team meetings also have tremendous benefit.
  • Lecture classes went fairly well.
  • Being trained on the usage of multiple tech devices and apps was very beneficial.
  • Simple PowerPoint lectures work well, too.
  • Students expressed they like having recordings of lectures and live-teaching options. Students liked being able to go back and look at the lectures again (asynchronously, after the class)
  • Students found it easy to take notes, look at the supplied slides/notes and seek corrections/clarifications.
  • Students more willing to take advantage of office hours online than in-person pre-Covid..
  • Teaching at a slower pace was well-received.

Academic Challenges: Lessons Learned 

  • Transition was rapid- would have liked more time to prepare, such as create videos, powerpoints.
  • Web cams, microphones, document cams could have been higher quality, easier to obtain.
  • Inability to have access to labs creates difficulty in making progress on research.
  • There is an increase in classroom prep time.
  • It’s hard to know how engaged students are.
  • Proctoring exams is expensive, not easy to do.
  • Open-ended questions to classrooms not working. In-class interaction more challenging.
  • Designing lessons for those with tech issues.
  • Capstone and other hands-on learning are major losses.

Transitioning to Telework: Successes 

  • Keeping in communication with co-workers is important for work coordination and mental health.
  • MS Teams and Zoom are really beneficial apps for information sharing.

Transitioning to Telework: Challenges 

  • It takes longer to complete many tasks when working remotely.
  • Social isolation, sharing work-time with family can be difficult.
  • We’re missing our colleagues and students.

I particularly enjoyed getting a chance to hear about each of your experiences during this challenging time, and I was impressed by how many of you took the “Cougs Help Cougs” spirit to help each other out and troubleshoot solutions to others’ problems. As we continue in the State of Washington’s Phase 2 Plan of social distancing and prepare for teaching contingencies for fall semester, we’ll utilize your feedback to improve upon our success this past semester.

If you have not already participated, I encourage you to take advantage of AOI’s Learning Innovation Workshops which provide a comfortable place to discover, develop, and practice new skills technical and non-technical teaching skills for both beginners and seasoned users.

I also encourage you to attend WSU COVID-19 Town Hall this Friday, May 29, where WSU leaders will discuss:

  • Next steps in planning for fall semester
  • Preview of guidance for eventual return to WSU work locations
  • The University’s 10 percent budget cutting exercise
  • Update on resuming research activities

I know most of you have concerns about the university’s budget cutting exercise and what it means for Voiland College. You are not alone. I have been meeting daily with WSU and VCEA leadership to help navigate a process that follows WSU’s core principles, yet keeps our essential services intact.

This is a complex and difficult undertaking. I invite everyone to attend the VCEA Budget Forum on Monday, June 1, at 11 AM to learn more about the budget situation and share your ideas, recommendations, and concerns you may have as we move forward – together – to solve this issue.




Dean Mary Rezac's signature
Mary Rezac (she/her/hers)
Dean, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University
Phone: 509-335-5593
Twitter: @VCEA_Dean

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