news-article - Coastal Carolina University
In This Section

CCU adapts as learning environment shifts online for remainder of Spring 2020 semester

April 2, 2020
Though the physical campus remains empty of students, plenty of engaged learning is still happening through the innovative work of CCU faculty and staff.Though the physical campus remains empty of students, plenty of engaged learning is still happening through the innovative work of CCU faculty and staff.Though the physical campus remains empty of students, plenty of engaged learning is still happening through the innovative work of CCU faculty and staff.

The Chanticleer, a fierce and crafty rooster from Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," is the mascot of Coastal Carolina University for a reason: It embodies the true spirit of Teal Nation, a spirit that is evident most during adversity. Perhaps more than ever before, the faculty, staff, and administration of the University have had to channel their inner Chanticleer as the threat of COVID-19 progressed and ultimately shifted all academic instruction online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.

Colleges, departments, and offices across campus - from Kimbel Library to the Office of Admissions - are all finding their own ways to adapt to the closure of campus while still providing the same level of service and care to students and other stakeholders.


Even faculty members who teach courses that may seem impossible to teach virtually, like theatre courses, are finding ways to adapt. In the Department of Theatre, some faculty members are incorporating live video conferencing for student meetings, while others are creating video lectures and tutorials to coincide with online tests and discussions. Student assignments include uploading video recordings of auditions for "Romeo and Juliet," along with submitting work in the form of papers, videos, files, and drawings.

"I'm impressed by how quickly the faculty and the staff in the college have come together to share ideas and resources, and to guarantee that our students will continue to experience the high-impact education they are accustomed to in the Edwards College," said Claudia Bornholdt, dean of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts. "We are proving that the skills acquired in a liberal arts education prepare us to adapt to new situations, find creative solutions, collaboratively solve problems, and effectively communicate in writing, speaking, and now also on all sorts of new media platforms."

An HTC Honors College and Center for Interdisciplinary Studies honors general education course, Honors 201, examines a variety of apocalyptic scenarios, from nuclear disaster to zombie apocalypse to pandemic disease to climate catastrophe. Lecturer Jeremy Killian is integrating the gaming platform into Moodle to stream lectures and play through the game "Bioshock" with his students. This approach replaces the "lab days" when they would work together in person.

"The game is rich in philosophical, psychological, and political content, so it gives us a lot to talk about," he said. "Students play through the game, and we study it much like one would study a film or novel, mining it for thematic elements. Students can tune into the livestream and chat about what they've encountered in the game and help each other out with problems they might face in the game."

Student Support

Faculty responsible for student outreach programs have also made adjustments so students can continue to receive tutoring and support while completing various assignments. Math professors Keshev Jagannathan and Douglas Weathers normally oversee the popular Math Outreach program that provides math tutoring for all math classes.

After meeting to decide the best way to continue the program in a virtual format, the professors spent several days learning how to shift that outreach to Microsoft Teams so students could continue receiving help.

"We conducted Math Outreach starting Monday, March 23, on Microsoft Teams that are open to all students to join," said Jagannathan. "We can share screens and whiteboards, and we can also hold office hours/course class meetings online."

While the original intention of using Microsoft Teams was to reach the students, Weathers has realized the utility of the program and will continue to use it, even when things return to normal.

"It's nice to have the ability to open a virtual whiteboard with a student who emails me a question," he said. "I think I'll keep Teams around whenever we return to classes."

As the University transitioned to online teaching, the Coastal Student Success Center (CSSC) staff, including the Academic Coaching Experience Department and Tutoring and Learning Center also sprang into action. Under the leadership of Mary Fischer, director of the Academic Coaching Experience Department, and Brianne Parker, director of the Tutoring and Learning Center, academic staff members diligently transitioned to all online academic coaching and tutoring, allowing them to successfully deliver support services traditionally provided on campus.

The Academic Coaching Experience Department provides one-on-one online academic coaching appointments to help students get organized and create a strategy for each of their courses to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to support them in their academic success.

The Tutoring and Learning Center provides one-on-one online tutoring in the Writing Center, Mathematics Learning Center, and the Foreign Language Instructional Center (FLIC). Online appointments are made by visiting each center's website.

The Writing Center began offering online appointments as soon as classes were redirected to the online environment. Ten tutors were trained to engage with students through the Microsoft Teams app. Through the app, tutors are able to look at a draft with the student and discuss ideas for editing and revising that student's work.

"The process is actually quite similar to the tutoring done in person," said Scott Pleasant, Writing Center coordinator. "Communication may take a little longer during online appointments, but overall, these online sessions can be just as effective as in-person tutoring."

In addition, CSSC reached out to fellow academic campus partners to inquire about additional tutoring and student support services being provided to CCU students. So much information was gathered from that inquiry that CSSC created a centralized page - Spring 2020 Online Tutoring - that provides links for students to get information about additional tutoring and support opportunities. They are also providing updates on their Instagram page @ccuacademiccoaching.

Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS) and the ADS Testing Center in Laurel Hall also transitioned to online operations, holding all appointments and meetings either via phone or online spaces like Skype or Microsoft Teams.

The director of ADS, Emily Gaspar, recognizes that the shift to online instruction may mean that students need new or additional accommodations. She has asked faculty and staff to refer students in need to her office by emailing or calling 843-349-2503.

"For specific instances, since the physical ADS Testing Center is closed, ADS will be available to provide accommodations remotely," said Gaspar. "This may mean a Skype, Microsoft Teams, or phone meeting with the student and an approved testing proctor from the ADS staff to serve as scribe or reader."

Prospective Students

Staff in the Office of Admissions and Merit Awards have found creative ways to reach prospective students and their families during a time when they are normally on the road visiting different regions and states.

Admissions counselor Michelle Deberry launched "Chant Chats," which are 30-minute video calls using Google Duo. Prospective students and parents sign up for a chat using Doodle.

"I've had a great response to this idea," said Deberry. "I generally speak to six to eight students and/or parents a day. A lot of them are high school juniors who are taking advantage of getting to me early, or students who are accepted and have questions about CCU."

Admissions counselor Camrynn Gonzales is also using video technology to connect with students. She is hosting question-and-answer webinars using the Zoom application. She spent the last week connecting with students in Virginia.

"They are asking great questions and even inviting their parents to listen in on the updates and ask questions," she said. "This has been working out well and helping students not only get answers to their questions, but interact with each other and start to form friendships."

Discovery Day, traditionally an all-day on-campus event, has also moved online. Through the use of videos and livestreamed student Q&A panels, prospective students will have the opportunity to learn more about the University from multiple sources, including staff, faculty, and students.

The Early Childhood Development Center launched its online program for 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds using Zoom. The program will run three times a week, twice a day, and tuition is $75 a week, which is half of the center's normal tuition.

"Our hopes are to be able to give the children a time to socialize with their friends in a safe learning environment," said Duncan. "We are so excited about this opportunity, as it gives us all something positive to be focusing on right now."

Interested parents can email director Joanne Duncan at for more information or visit to apply.

While the uncertainty of the pandemic remains, what is certain is that Coastal Carolina University is using all the tools in the technology toolbox to think outside the box in how to deliver quality instruction and attention to current and prospective students.

"It is quite remarkable the variety of tools and techniques in use now," said Provost Dan Ennis, "online class discussions that simultaneously employ video conferencing and threaded comments, creative combinations of texting, web content, and new assessment modules deployed in the learning management systems - a full range of strategies."

Ennis attested to the innovative nature of the CCU faculty and how they are channeling their inner Chanticleer to use these technological resources available to them to continue providing instruction.

"Faculty have created virtual classrooms in dens, home offices, and even garages," he said. "Along the way, they've not only taught, but provided a connection between the student and the University."