By Kailyn Strain – Contributing Writer
Online learning with CRUflex: Is CRUflex worth keeping?
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) launched CRUflex, which allows students to attend class online through Zoom. CRUflex gives students the option to either go to classes online or in the classroom, giving them the freedom to choose how they want to learn.
Not only does CRUflex allow students to attend class virtually, but it also allows a student the option to go back and listen to previous lectures if they feel like they missed something. With its flexibility, CRUflex has helped many students at UMHB to be able to attend class regardless of work, illness, and or disability, especially during the pandemic.
Education worldwide has changed drastically, and according to studies in the World Economic Forum’s, article, The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. This is how, online learning has been shown to increase retention of the material and take less time.
CRUflex is classified as E-learning. The Salem Press Encyclopedia defines E-learning as “the use of online computer-based technologies to complete an area of instruction,” which it says can occur in or out of classrooms while led by an instructor in real-time or it can be completed at a student’s preferred pace. It can also take place as a hybrid or combination of both teaching modes.
UMHB faculty and staff have taken steps to integrate such online learning with CRUflex and the incorporation of Zoom while ensuring a smooth transition for both professors and students.
Dr. Susan Wegmann, associate dean of Digital Learning and Innovation, stated that they began developing CRUflex in early May. Training faculty began in June, utilizing Canvas and Zoom to host the training sessions. While training was going on, the Information Technology department (IT) and the Physical Plant department bought and installed the webcams that make CRUflex possible.
“It was an incredible effort by the CDL team, IT, and the Physical Plant,” Dr. Wegmann said.
Many students are excited to have CRUflex as an option for their learning. Jacquelyn Gonzales, a senior majoring in engineering, is one.
CRUflex has allowed Jacquelyn to focus more on her health and be present for classes.
“I think CRUflex is great,” Gonzales said. “I believe CRUflex has made life and school so much easier to manage, as well as more accessible. It has helped me participate in many ways, especially when my health is not cooperating for me to go to class. Instead, I log on, and I do not feel guilty, burdened, or ashamed for not being 100% in class.”
Audrey Godley, a junior majoring in business, had the same enthusiasm about CRUflex. Godley expressed how CRUflex has helped disabled students, who have been waiting for this format for years. This is because it allows them to attend classes even while their disability doesn’t allow them to attend physically.
“Generally, I enjoy in-person classes,” Godley said. “However, CRUflex has been a huge benefit! The hardest part of attending in-person classes was getting places because I’m mobility impaired; it is extremely difficult and painful for me to walk from my car to the classroom,” she explained.
Godley hopes that UMHB keeps CRUflex as an option for all disabled community on campus, such as by providing more options for deaf and hard of hearing students.
In general however, CRUflex not only provides flexibility, but it allows most students to choose what works best for them, especially during this time with COVID-19.
UMHB is still investigating which parts of CRUflex that they might want to keep, and how it benefits both students and faculty.
Dr. Skaggs said he would like to see CRUflex stay as an option for students and has seen first-hand how helpful the program is. His wife, a nursing student, can now stay home with their children while their classes are online due to public school closures until October. CRUflex provided his family with the flexibility they need for their children and work.
Because of this flexibility, CRUflex allows students to choose what works best for them, especially during this time with COVID-19. Time will tell if CRUflex is here to stay as an option for students.