Bevill State unveils online learning

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 3/30/20

Bevill State Community College students began online learning Monday, following the Alabama Community College System’s recent decision to suspend on-site campus instruction due to COVID-19 …

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Bevill State unveils online learning

Posted

Bevill State Community College students began online learning Monday, following the Alabama Community College System’s recent decision to suspend on-site campus instruction due to COVID-19 concerns.

The college has provided a number of resources for students who may lack Internet access or a computer to use for assignment completion. 

For students who don’t have a computer at home, Bevill State is recommending an offer from Comcast Internet Essentials.

“If you are or if you become an Internet Essentials customer, you have the option to purchase a laptop or desktop computer for $150.00,” the college stated in a Facebook post. “Each eligible family may purchase up to five devices.”

Furthermore, Comcast offers public Wi-Fi hotspots that anyone can use; however, it is not clear where those hotspots are in Walker County. 

To qualify for the Comcast Internet Essentials program, applicants must be eligible for one of the following: Medicaid, Public Housing Assistance, SNAP, TANF, SSI, NSLP/Head Start, LIHEAP, WIC, VA pension or other programs.

Installation of Comcast Internet Essentials can take up to seven days. For more information, visit https://www.internetessentials.com/.

Comcast Internet is not available in many rural areas of Walker County. An online application allows users to input their home address to confirm eligibility.

In terms of accessing online educational resources, AT&T is providing unlimited mobile data for the next 60 days to customers. AT&T also has a number of Wi-Fi hotspots for customers.The company has also promised to provide an additional 15GB of hotspot data for existing customers.

T-Mobile, as well, is providing unlimited data for 60 days to customers that have data plans. T-Mobile is also offering an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot and tethering data for 60 days.   

Sprint is offering unlimited data for the next 60 days for customers as well, along with an additional 20 GB of mobile hotspot data. 

Bevill State Community College noted that while the institution has provided a list of options students can take advantage of to access online learning, the Alabama Community College System is not publicly endorsing any of the options mentioned above.

The college is recommending VitalSource for students who do not have access to course materials since the college’s move to distance learning. 

“This program is made possible by the leading publishers and campus retailers in U.S. higher education,” Bevill State shared in a post to Facebook. “The program offers free access to tens of thousands of ebooks to spring semester students and instructors at impacted two- and four-year non-profit institutions in the U.S.”

VitalSource ebooks can be accessed at https://www.vitalsource.com/.

Students who do not have Internet access or who may not qualify for assistance programs can access Wi-Fi in parking lots on Bevill State campuses. Students are asked to remain in their vehicles if using on-campus Wi-Fi. 

Bevill State Community College President Dr. Kim Ennis released a statement to students and college personnel on Friday to address the changes made by the college.

“The changes being required of us during this global pandemic will be a transition, but I believe that change always brings opportunity. We will all be challenged to be innovative, patient, and compassionate,” Ennis said. “During this time, please know that Bevill State is committed to the well-being and success of our students. Our faculty and staff will work diligently and creatively to see that the educational needs of our students are met.”

Ennis also had a special message for students.

“Students, please remember to check your BearMail and Canvas accounts regularly for correspondence from your instructors on how this will look for each of your courses,” Ennis said. “Do not get discouraged during this change. We will all work together to help you achieve your educational goals.”

Ennis further stated that the college plans to reschedule graduation ceremonies and occasions to honor students. 

Bevill State will remain closed until further notice and advanced registration for the summer semester, which was scheduled for April 1, has been rescheduled. 

“I know that this is a fast-moving, fluid situation, and that this causes anxiety for many. Let me encourage you to remain calm and informed,” Ennis said. “The Bevill State family is strong, and will face this together. We will continue to keep you informed as information is available. Your patience and cooperation are appreciated."