empty classroom; photo by Ross Sneddon by Unsplash

Proactive Professor Gets Online Fast

March 16, 2020

While university updates on coronavirus were going out last week, Assistant Professor John Ronquillo, PhD, predicted CU Denver classes would probably be going online soon. “I knew it was likely a foregone conclusion,” he said. Instead of waiting for the official announcement, Ronquillo got a jump-start, making his classes virtual last Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2020. 

Ronquillo teaches in the School of Public Affairs, so it was easier for him to transition from in-person to online classes. One of his classes was already a hybrid class, so those students were better prepared to work remotely. Ronquillo’s Doctoral Seminar in Public Management, however, meets in a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. With six students, the class is small, and “the discussions are rich and vivid,” Ronquillo said. “I know that moving that aspect to Zoom may be a challenge, but given the circumstances, it’s doable.”

Higher Ed Takes to Twitter

We found out about Ronquillo’s quick educational response via Twitter. On his Twitter account, Ronquillo tweeted about moving his classes online in response to the coronavirus. He did it to show his students that he was willing to take the health threat seriously, while also considering their educational needs. “But I also think I did so to show solidarity with other folks in academia—faculty, staff, and students—in acknowledging that we can adapt and get through this,” he said. 

photo of Professor Ronquillo
Assistant Professor John Ronquillo announced online classes on Twitter.

It should be no surprise that Ronquillo was willing and able to make the move quickly. After all, he won CU Denver’s Online Innovator Award in 2018. But even Ronquillo had difficulties with learning to teach online: “It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I can say I honestly enjoy it, but I do.” He points out that online learning offers his students greater flexibility. He also gets to teach students who are not in Denver. “It’s been great having students all over Colorado, in other states, and even throughout the world,” he said.

Adapting to the Cloud

Ronquillo admits that there’s a learning curve (pun intended)—and the coronavirus is making professors and students learn new skills on an accelerated schedule. “There’s no doubt that with the quick shift we’ve had to undertake with the COVID-19 pandemic that some of us will have it easier than others.” For example, he wonders how professors in the physical sciences “or areas that genuinely necessitate tactile interactions” will adapt.

Ronquillo notes that there are many helpful resources across campus to help professors and students with online learning: the Center for Faculty Development, the Auraria Library, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and ThinqStudio. Most importantly, he believes faculty and students will work together to support each other’s learning. “We’ll keep going no matter what,” he said.