Published on April 9, 2020 by Sara Roman  

Captain Wes Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in Samford University’s School of Health Professions, was recently deployed by the National Guard to help with the current COVID-19 crisis. In a typical deployment situation, Johnson would not have been able to continue teaching his courses. However, Samford’s transition to online learning allowed Johnson to continue teaching while away.

Johnson is serving as the National Guard’s team lead of the Medical Intelligence Cell of the overall Med Task Force Operation. While his position keeps him busy, the virtual classroom setting has allowed him to seamlessly continue weekly classes and communicate directly with students through online meetings.

Virtual learning tools like Kahoot!, an online game-based learning platform, have kept Johnson’s students engaged and provided a method to confirm that students are understanding and retaining information. At night, Johnson pre-records lectures and assigns students with reading material, then the class meets virtually to discuss specific topics and questions from the material. The discussion is followed by a mini-review through a Kahoot! quiz.

“The quizzes seem to be a big hit with the students and they have actually been an excellent teaching tool. I may even continue using them when we return to the classroom,” says Johnson. 

Johnson's virtual deskJohnson is currently teaching Clinical Medicine I and this summer he will teach Clinical Medicine II and Research Methods. Summer courses have also been moved to an online format to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to Johnson, the virtual format has stretched and strengthened him as an instructor and he feels that it has aided his students too.

“This situation has forced me to try new approaches and be creative in a format that was previously foreign to me. When we find ourselves in hard situations, we often find strength that we didn’t know we had,” said Johnson. “I have seen a level of resilience in my students that I have not necessarily seen before. It gives me great confidence in the kind of providers they are going to be.” 

To view the most recent information about Samford University related to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 webpage for ongoing updates.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.