Despite some slight hiccups, the Northern Marianas College’s transition from face-to-face classes to virtual formats is going generally well, according to NMC interim president Frankie Eliptico.
“There are still many challenges and we are assessing them on a daily basis, but we have received positive feedback so far,” he said. “The students, the faculty, and others at NMC have been amazing in their efforts to transition to virtual formats.”
Eliptico acknowledges that the college is expected to further refine, modify, and adjust the online class system in a bid to further improve it as they move forward. “But that’s to be expected when undertaking this scale of activity,” he said.
Since March 18, students have begun meeting with their instructors through Zoom, a web-based video conferencing application, as a precautionary measure and in a bid to comply with the social distancing rule that is seen as an effective way to prevent a possible spread of COVID-19 virus in the CNMI. According to Eliptico, there is no specific date in place as to when the college will go back to face-to-face classes.
“We will bring our students and employees back to campus once it is safe to do so,” Eliptico said.
Eliptico also said that the college has developed a Pandemic Planning Task Force, which is intended to help the NMC community prepare for a potential outbreak in the CNMI.
“Our main priority is the students and their wellbeing,” Eliptico said. “We will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and will inform our students and employees immediately of any changes to the academic calendar.”
NMC counselors have been calling students to make sure they are faring well with their online classes.
An NMC student, who agreed to talk about his experience on the condition of anonymity, said that he doesn’t really like it mainly because of technological issues, but understands that it’s something that he has to get used to.
“I mean, I guess I’m fine with it, it would be better if I was equipped for it,” he said. He stated that he’s not used to seeing classmates through a single screen and prefers to be on campus since he learns better in a face-to-face learning environment.
Another NMC student who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity said that her experience hasn’t been too bad. She’s still able to ask questions about current topics, and she’s able to still learn efficiently during each session.
“I’m okay with the current situation—I’m fortunate to have internet access but it’s kind of unrealistic to expect everyone to do online classes so I hope they’re [teachers] understanding of others,” she said.