How One Local Turf University is Dealing with the Pandemic

We recently asked Dr. Linde, Turf Professor and Golf Coach at Delaware Valley University, to chime in on how his colleagues, students, and school are dealing with the pandemic:

DelVal moved totally online after spring break. Professors were forced to abruptly change their teaching methods and students had to quickly adapt.

After returning from my sabbatical in New Zealand a few weeks ago [Editor’s Note: this was a forced premature return due to the pandemic], I phoned all of my turf advisees to see how they were doing with learning online. All were understanding of the switch to online and are doing their best to finish the semester. I did not hear any of them complain about the change.

We asked Dr. Linde to speak to the implications of online curriculum considering much of turf and science learning is hands on/labs:

Turf majors at DelVal take a lot of science-based classes that have labs. The lab classes are where many students learn the most because the content is face-to-face, hands-on, interactive, and experiential. Before the virus situation, our students preferred the face-to-face learning style. Being forced to learn online has given all students a chance to learn a new way. Also, being forced to teach online has given professors a chance to teach a new way.

One of my colleagues, Dr. Jackie Ricotta, turned one of her regular field trips into an online experience. She compiled photos and recorded descriptions from previous field trips to a greenhouse into a presentation the students could watch and reflect upon. Other colleagues have created their own videos or have used videos already online to simulate a lab class.

Online classes have been around for many years. There is a difference between a professor planning an entire online class from the beginning versus being forced to go online half way through the semester: professors teaching an entire class online have chosen and planned for that delivery method many months or years prior. Developing a quality online class takes much preparation time. I commend my fellow faculty for rising to the challenge of changing their delivery method in such short notice and for the students being patient and flexible. Plus, they all had to make this change during a time when they had much anxiety related to other changes in their life caused by the virus.

Finally, we asked Dr. Linde to speak to the future: the incoming students for this fall as well as recruitment for fall 2021:

There are still many unknowns relating to student enrollment for the fall semester. Fortunately, DelVal is currently on track to have a full incoming class of new students. Most recruits for the fall have already visited campus at least once before mid-March and many have already made their college choice.

Also, DelVal has been offering virtual tours and virtual meetings with admissions counselors. High school juniors who want to visit face-to-face during the summer need to just “wait and see” for now. I always encourage my recruits to make one of their visits during the fall semester while classes are in session.

The administration at DelVal has been preparing for various scenarios for the fall semester. I’m hoping that we can have full semester of face-to-face teaching for the fall semester. Update 4/24/2020: DelVal announced yesterday that the university is freezing tuition for next school year [2020-2021].