IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MARTIN LUTHER COLLEGE’S VICE PRESIDENT FOR ACADEMICS, DR. JEFF WIECHMAN
Faculty and Staff Final update
Faculty and Staff update
Faculty and Staff update
Faculty and Staff update
End of the Year update
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
Hello, everyone. I’ve been looking for and asking for help a lot lately. No surprise there, right? To know me is to know that I need help! Are you like me? Do you need more help than ever right now? I’m not just talking about online learning. It’s everything: supplies, exercise, diet, and wondering if that tickle in my throat is something more serious! I’m comforted that I was taught by my parents, pastors, and teachers where to look. I know where to go. So did the psalmist. We look to “the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Our confidence for help is rock solid thanks to the saving work of Jesus.
This is an update about our online learning format being carried out at MLC. Many of you are living in states where “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders have been ordered by the government. In Minnesota, ours came on Wednesday afternoon of this week. Along with that order, came the directive that all K-12 education should continue using distance formats until May 4. This spurred discussion at MLC about our status for distance learning. The Administrative Council, based on my recommendation, is extending our online teaching and learning to the end of the Spring 2020 semester. This is a responsible decision for the same reasons many states have put their movement restrictions and teaching/learning ordinances in place. And yet, I hate to see it happen. Oh, I know you’ll be fine academically. You’re resilient people. Our faculty is capable and ready. Our student body is dedicated and committed. But I miss you, people! (Between you and me, I think I’m driving Mrs. Wiechman crazy!)
This decision brings with it more questions. I don’t have answers, just updates:
What about student teachers? We’re waiting on some decisions from the MN state legislature as well as the Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). In the meantime, we have ideas for you based on those decisions. It would be imprudent for us to jump the gun until we hear from them. Have faith and trust that we will communicate with you as soon as we possibly can. Thanks.
What about graduation? Well, our administrators are going to use April 8 as a deadline to communicate how this might take place. Live? Virtual? When? Where? How? Ideas abound.
What about that refund? Ah, yes, the refund! VP Schone and the Financial Services folks are ready to share the plan. Look for an announcement to come to you very soon.
What about my stuff in the dorm? This matter may take some time to figure out due to travel bans and restrictions in place, etc. But your friendly Dorm Staff will keep working at a solution. For now, leave things in our safe and secure care, and stay tuned!
So there it is, friends. Keep the pajamas, slippers, caffeine, and snacks in good supply for the long haul of a semester dedicated to online/distance learning. And remember: If you need help, you know where to look according to Psalm 121. I mentioned how thankful I am to my parents, pastors, and teachers. I’m also thankful for you as future parents, pastors, teachers, and staff ministers. You will point your future students and congregations in the right direction! To that end, may God bless you.
Jesus keep you safe, healthy, and strong in his promises!
Dear students of MLC,
So…anything new or interesting going on in your life? Wow. What a wild ride we’re on, huh? I can’t imagine the range of emotions you’re experiencing right now. From student teachers and seniors wondering about finishing out programs, graduation, and assignment day…to spring athletes losing a season…to Children’s Theatre folks…to musical groups thinking of concerts…just wild. Good thing we have a God who holds all that we need to know and do in the palm of his almighty and loving hands. Repeat after me: “God’s got this.” Remember Philippians 4:6 which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I’m sorry I didn’t communicate sooner. Mrs. W. and I just got back from moving our son to New Mexico where he is starting his first big job after college. Rental trucks, apartments, shopping…and toilet paper (!) were my other big challenges in the last week…thanks, COVID-19!
I don’t propose to have all (or any) of the final answers right now, but I can guarantee you that everyone on our campus is working very hard to get ready for this. My note to you today is to help get you ready as well. I thought I should send you a note about academic expectations as we venture into this new wave of teaching/learning in the weeks to come. So…buckle up…here are some thoughts:
1) This won’t be easy, and it’s not a break or a chance to start working a full-time job again. You are all still college students. Professors are working very hard to figure out the best way to cover material, hear back from you, assess your work, and decide on how much will need to be done to earn credit for the semester. I’m stressing to faculty that their expectations cannot be the same as they would be in a face-to-face setting. Learning may take on a number of forms to fit each professor’s ability and comfort levels. You’re probably hearing from them already. It’s going to be overwhelming for them, and most likely for you. Be patient with your professors, and ask questions. No ranting on social media, please. Such responses reflect more poorly on you than they do on MLC. You’re training to be called workers and professionals in gospel ministry, so do your best to maintain that level in these new times. Thanks in advance for this.
2) Academic work will fall into one of two main categories:
a. Some professors may choose to try and meet synchronously (all at once) with you. This would have to happen during the regularly scheduled class hours you were adhering to before the break. You will have to be able to meet at those times. Wanting to work at a job or do other things will have to wait. You need to honor these times if any of your classes fall into this category of synchronous learning. There should be no conflicts with other classes. Profs who want to teach this way know that they need to honor the existing schedule. If you are in a different time zone, profs should be aware of this and making plans to accommodate you. You may need to meet once or twice at very early hours (hello, west coast!) to get started and organized as a class. If there are concerns later, be sure to gently remind your prof about this. We need to adjust to your situation, but it won’t always be easy. Have I mentioned patience?
b. The second category for learning would be asynchronous. Profs would email or use Moodle to have you check-in, read, study, etc. and then submit work at particular dates and times using those same tools. I’m sure the methods for delivery will vary. The deadlines might be weekly or at various times throughout the week. This requires responsibility and organization (and did I mention patience?) on your part.
3) These kinds of learning pose the problem of you getting inundated with lots of directions, expectations, due dates, etc. Sounds like face-to-face school, right? Again, you will really need to ramp up your organization and responsibility skills. Online/Distance learning is most definitely more complicated and more difficult than face-to-face instruction. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what we have right now. If you aren’t a calendar/list/deadline person, I strongly suggest becoming one. As you begin hearing from professors, receiving instruction, and learning about expectations, write things down in an organized way. Again, patience is a must. If you want access to a tutor from the Academic Success Center (Coach Cox) or Writing Center (Prof. Grubbs), just ask. We’ve just started talking about how to continue those services for you.
4) Next, some “other” things:
a. Network Services asks that you be sure to have your login and password information set and ready. If you are unsure or need help logging in from a distance, start sending them requests now, so they don’t get inundated next week when things get going. Use firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, Network Service is currently working on beefing up the “Moodle for Students” book on “KnightHelp” and revamping the existing Intro to Online Learning Tutorial to be something for students to use if needed. These sites are “works in progress.” There’s that patience thing again. See below for details.
b. More on technology (AGAIN…THE LINKS THAT FOLLOW ARE A WORK IN PROGRESS): Need help to adjust to online learning? Take a look here for help.We will be doing more than ever with Moodle. Need a tutorial? Try this. While we’re hoping most – if not all – of you have the needed internet access, we cannot assume this or expect it. If you feel you do not have the proper access, I would humbly ask that you approach a local school, church, library, etc. that will hopefully help you. FYI: MLC will be sending messages out to every one of your congregations asking them to help support you by opening doors and providing access. If you still struggle, reach out to your adviser, dean, and professors. Several internet providers are offering free service. Check a list here. Otherwise, we may need to go “old school” via the postal service (you know letters and stamps and stuff)! By the way, your smartphone shouldn’t be considered good enough, but if it’s all you legitimately have and can find nothing else…
c. Pastor Boeder and VP Schone are making plans to make God’s Word from MLC a normal part of your day. When things get out-of-whack in your schedule, it’s nice to have some things that never change. Watch for more e-mail on what they hope to provide for you, and make it a regular part of each day. They’ll use the same 10:30 A.M. (CST) time slot.
d. As you have probably thought of, we’re getting into the time of year for scheduling classes for 2020-2021. Watch for directions and messages about this from the deans’ office. Our plan is to follow the normal dates and times and procedures for this event. It will require more communication with your adviser. They will be ready to help!
e. Student teachers and seniors: we’re on it. We meet about these questions almost daily right now as the situation changes just as frequently. We’ll keep you posted on credit earned, experiences completed, and graduation. More than ever, patience is needed. Again, we’re on it.
f. This one’s awkward, but we need to talk about academic integrity. Please don’t assume a lack of trust on our part, but please also know that the temptations will be great, the opportunities will be frequent, and that the penalties will not change according to an instructors’ syllabus and campus policy. Thanks for letting me say what needed to be said.
5) Finally, a note of thanks. Thanks for putting all you have into your studies when they are delivered in an atypical way. Thanks for being patient with profs, technology, and schedules. Thanks for being organized and responsible and good communicators. And one more: thanks for holding off on all the questions you might have until we can share more. Your profs want the questions. Your adviser will be a good resource. The deans will be a good resource. And my email and cell and Twitter DM (see all below) are always available to you. Of course, DMing me on Twitter is more fun…but you can decide that for yourself.
Blessings, brothers, and sisters, as we walk together.