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Naval War College moves all lectures and courses online

U.S. Naval War College (Chief Mass Communication Specialist James E. Foehl/Flickr)

The U.S. Naval War College has moved all lectures and seminars online for its 600 in-residence students, in addition to postponing events, conferences and ceremonies in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

The college suspended all official travel and limited military members to taking personal leave only within the local area, in accordance with Department of Defense guidelines, said a written statement sent out Wednesday by Jeanette Steele, public affairs spokeswoman for the college.

The college is advocating social-distancing strategies such as preventing gatherings of more than 10 people, implementing widespread telework, and conducting all meetings by videoconference, Steele wrote.

As of Tuesday, 57% of the college’s telework-eligible employees were working remotely, surpassing the week’s original goal of 50%, and officials said the figure will soon go even higher.

“We have seen a tremendous response from our faculty, staff and students during this transition period,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana S. Chatfield, Naval War College president.

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The college has quickly moved to embrace the virtual classroom for all students, adapting practices already being used by the institution’s College of Distance Education, Steele wrote.

As of Monday, recorded lectures are being delivered through an intranet platform. This effort will include more than 40 lectures during the current trimester, Dean of Academics Phil Haun said.

For seminars, students are being introduced to the “virtual classroom” through a program that allows each person in a 12-person seminar to appear on camera via a laptop computer or tablet and speak in real time to the group, he said.

“So far, the word I’ve been getting back is success,” Haun said. “It’s not the same thing as being in a classroom, but it is far better than not being able to hold class at all. Our faculty is quickly learning how to adapt and improve, as well as our students.”

“There’s been a tremendous amount of work done already to keep our education readiness and fleet engagement quality,” Chatfield said in an email sent to the command earlier this week.

For example, Amanda Rosen, associate director of the college’s Teaching Excellence Center, has held impromptu workshops on virtual teaching for faculty members.

The college is working to make sure the educational process is not disrupted, despite the extra safety precautions required, Haun said.

“Our No. 1 objective is to keep our people safe,” he said. “And the No. 2 objective is to graduate our students in June with a master’s degree.”

“I’m so impressed by how quickly each department was able to put into place these social-distancing measures, which help not just the college but our local community, as well,” Chatfield said. “I admire the team effort to accomplish preparations and complete training so that we can maintain our academic schedule while transitioning to telework.”

The college is following Naval Station Newport’s Health Protection Condition Bravo guidelines, which call for no handshaking and increased cleaning of surfaces in common areas.

If a member of the college believes he or she has been exposed to COVID-19, that person should notify the chain of command. Additional protocols, including restriction of movement, will be considered if necessary.

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© 2020 Newport Daily News