Captain Joseph LaPlante’s spring vacation from the USMA ended up longer than he thought. LaPlante now teaches remotely from his hometown. Travel restrictions and school closures due to coronavirus concerns have stopped him and his family from returning.
“I’ve been here in Idaho for about the last month. Spring break for West Point came around and the academy had sent off cadets, staff and faculty for vacation. At this time it was still the early stages of the coronavirus so things were developing very rapidly. It became apparent to leadership as COVID-19 developed that it was not in the best interest of the safety of their cadets to bring everyone back,” LaPlante said.
The academy and its instructors had to scramble for a way for its cadets to continue their classes but from a distance. LaPlante said that the academy came up with a way to continue its courses in around four days. He said that he wouldn’t be able to have a quiet and remote area to work if it wasn’t for the St. Maries Fire Protection District allowing him to use the O’Gara Fire Station to teach his classes out of. “Thank you to the St. Maries Fire Protection District for their support,” LaPlante said.
He said that online instruction for his class can sometimes be difficult due to the open discussion format. He said that the remote learning has had its advantages for some students.“I teach a MX 400 Officership class which is the capstone course at USMA,” LaPlante said. “It’s everything a cadet needs to know before graduating and its a very discussion based class. It has been a challenge to carry out those discussions online. There is one mic and camera, and only one can speak at a time. I typically have 14 to 17 cadets in each class and we can’t break up into small groups.”
“There are some good parts about it though,” LaPlante said. “Instead of talking for 75 minutes, I can shorten class and have the cadets go to a forum and type out questions. This has given cadets that are introverts a chance to engage and it has shown me that these cadets have a lot of great things to say. We are leveraging technology to some peoples strengths.” Read more.