Lecturers leap online to help graduation
Bermuda College lecturers made sure that their students graduated despite the Covid-19 pandemic and a forced move to online learning.
A total of 107 graduates will mark the end of an unprecedented academic year of challenges by collecting their associate degrees, diplomas or certificates in an organised drive at the College today.
The college revealed yesterday that 53 per cent of the Class of 2020 graduated with honours, earning either merit or distinction status.
Teneika Eve, a senior culinary lecturer, said that her biggest challenge was teaching a hands-on course over the internet.
She told The Royal Gazette: “A component of the course is actually having the lecturers taste the food, so when the pandemic reached Bermuda, of course I had to stop and think ‘OK, what are we going to do to try to maintain some of the objectives in the culinary class?'”
Ms Eve said that she sent ingredients to her stay-at-home students, so they could cook and experiment.
She added that photographs of their creations were e-mailed to her and judged on presentation and creativity.
Ms Eve admitted that, because she could not taste the dishes, her grades relied on the presentation of the dishes.
She added that she used previous knowledge of her students' skills to help grade their work.
Ms Eve said that, despite the problems, the situation taught students how to be adaptable — a crucial skill in the kitchen.
She explained: “I tell my students all the time that in the restaurant or hospitality business you might not have an ingredient or something might have gone bad, so you have to think on your feet, you have to be proactive and you have to be quick problem-solvers.
“You must remain adaptable in order to remain relevant and they were very successful in doing so.”
Dana Lightbourne, a senior mathematics lecturer, said she was familiar with the online lecture format and prepared for the change.
But she admitted that she racked her brains to find a way to grab the attention of students, who also had access to other online maths tutorials.
Ms Lightbourne explained: “When you take a class online I think you have to be aware, in particular for mathematics, that there are hundreds of millions of videos already online. Any one of my students could Google a topic and find a video of someone teaching it.”
Ms Lightbourne said that she based statistics lessons around the pandemic and other problems that affected her students to keep them engaged.
She added: “I gave my students the scenario of ‘it's 2038 and there's another pandemic looming and you have to analyse the data from what happened in 2019 to see if we can make connections between variables'.”
Ms Lightbourne said: “My students wouldn't say ‘oh Ms Lightbourne that was awesome' but I could tell by their engagement and how they asked questions afterwards that things were going well.”
Amy Harvey, the chairwoman of the Bermuda College Faculty Association, said that she was pleased by the commitment shown by staff and students. She added: “What I was really impressed with was the fact that we had students who were still working during lockdown.
“A lot of them worked in supermarkets and they would call in on their Zoom classes during their lunch break.”
Ms Harvey, an environmental science lecturer, said that she was touched by how many of her students phoned to check on her welfare.
She added: “I found that really motivated me to keep going.”
Duranda Greene, the college president, said: “I want to celebrate the tenacity with which our students embraced this unprecedented challenge: the fortitude it took for them to soldier on in a new learning environment and the spirit with which they fought to reach the end of this part of their journey.
“Similarly, BC faculty and staff are also champions of our students' success and today I salute and commend everyone.”
The largest group in the graduating class is the Associate of Arts (Business Administration), which produced 32 graduates.
Seventeen dual enrolment graduates will be awarded associate degrees, diplomas or certificates before receiving high school certificates next month.
Eleven nursing students could not complete the clinical component of their graduation requirements as a result of the pandemic. It is hoped that this will be completed in the fall.
In lieu of the traditional graduation ceremony, students will collect their degrees, diplomas and certificates, caps and gowns, and a personalised letter from Dr Greene, in a drive by the college gymnasium at 10.30am today.
Other activities will include a virtual commencement party from 6pm.