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Arizona State University Journalism Dean Says Students Can Still ‘Report From Home’ During Coronavirus

Adrienne Patton

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March 24, 2020 – In another “Social Distance Social” held over Zoom on Tuesday, Future Tense Editor Torie Bosch interviewed Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Chris Callahan, who said students are encouraged to “report from home” as they adapt to this pandemic-ridden environment.

When the first two universities announced they would do virtual classes over two weeks ago, that got the ball rolling for our university, said Callahan.

The faculty spent 96 hours working to quickly move to an online platform in light of the spreading coronavirus.

The majority of the professors adapted quickly, and those who struggled could get help swiftly because it is easy to monitor classes being held online in real-time, said Callahan. Deans checked in on the online courses with permission to see if any professors needed additional help from IT.

Bosch asked how students are handling the change.

“This is hard for everybody,” especially the social aspect for the students, said Callahan. However, parents also showed great concern over the drastic, rapid changes in response to the pandemic.

Through constant contact and extensive communication, Callahan reached out to parents and students to help ease anxieties and concerns.

Callahan even started using Zoom for the parents to ask questions, and over a hundred parents tuned into the meeting.

Arizona State University is allowing students to stay on campus. Students were encouraged to go home if possible, but if not, the school would remain open to accommodate them.

The journalism school is deeply engaged with reporting, and the pandemic has changed the circumstances.

“We had to make some very early decisions,” but the safety of our students is the priority, said Callahan. The equipment rooms with cameras for the students to use were closed, and faculty encouraged students to stay home instead of venturing out into “the field” to conduct reporting.

These restrictions have really prompted the students to become more creative with storytelling and reporting, said Callahan.

Are there drawbacks to remote, online learning, asked Bosch.

Callahan said it depends on students’ preferred learning style, but there are not as many differences as people might expect.

“Our students who have been through this will be better positioned” and be able to transfer the skills learned during this uncertain time to a future job, said Callahan in response to an audience member’s concern that students are being encouraged to enter an economically unstable field at this time.

One of the faculty members created The Cronkite Café that hosts extracurricular activities for students to participate in online to foster connection during an isolating period.

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