Updated: Oct 4, 2022
WELL-Core events are moving online for the rest of the spring semester.
All Belmont undergraduate students can get convo credit through live events and self-paced learning as it is posted on Blackboard.
For Vice Provost of Academic Affairs Phil Johnston, Blackboard seemed like the obvious choice as the medium to continue WELL-Core learning.
“We had to come up with something that folks could do that was very flexible, to be able to access wherever they are right now across the country. It was something that was tied to the university and something that both faculty and students were fairly familiar with,” said Johnston
Self-paced learning involves students interacting with videos, documentaries or other materials, and then completing a quiz on the subject matter to earn credit.
The content for the WELL-Core programs are being chosen based on the need of the graduating seniors and on topics relevant to students now.
“A couple of the things we’ve put in there now have to do with other epidemics in history,” said Johnston.
Live events will take place on Blackboard Collaborate, where live streaming and chat room capabilities are available to make the experience interactive.
“You always lose a little bit of excitement because you don’t have the person there to live,” said Johnston. “I think we’ll see live synchronous offerings come up, but we won’t have them right away”
Junior Rylee Hickey finds the transition online to be more convenient and accessible —there’s no longer anxiety around being late for class after a convocation, Hickey said.
“If convos during the school year were offered online, I would be way more inclined to do convos,” said Hickey.
But graduating seniors Matthew Estevez and Shelby Stills find the convocation requirement in the midst of the pandemic to be an unnecessary burden, they said.
“I think seniors especially have so much more to worry about right now than trying to get convo to graduate,” said Stills.
“We dealt with a tornado mere weeks ago and now we are trying to not contract this virus. There have been decisions made in the past that I haven’t been very happy with, but this one tops them all. I think they should just forget convo and give us all a break.”
“We have an entire pandemic to deal with, convo should be that last thing a university should push onto the people graduating into the real world after dealing with this whole thing,” said Estevez.
But administration maintains that convocation is an important requirement for graduation.
“As a university, we have to record with our accrediting bodies and others what is required for graduation. We can’t just as a whim get rid of it,” said Johnston.
“If we were to cancel something like that, we would have to have a lot of other folks beyond our university know that and agree to it.”
The biggest concern for the online adjustment is for students who don’t have access to essentials like laptops or WiFi, said Johnston.
He encourages these students to visit their public libraries or, in the case of these institutions being closed down, to send an email to email@example.com.
“If a student really does have extreme difficulty with that, we can help them out.”
Johnston said the online offerings will be just as valuable to students as the in-person events.
“I think we are all having some disappointment in the feel and the culture of the college campus being dampened by all of this, and it’s true across the country, unfortunately. But, I would say to go ahead and view a couple of these and see if you don’t believe their high value in what we’ve selected. We’ve been very selective. We don’t pick just anything.”
Article by Kendall Crawford. Contributing reporting by Madison Bowen.