Alumnus, staff member shares perspective on preparedness for online course delivery from inside the Walker College of Business

Tung Ong, the Walker College of Business' Computing Consultant, is helping meet the urgent needs of technology tools, connectivity and training for the Appalachian State University business faculty as they prepare to transition courses 100% online, beginning March 23. Tung works among computing equipment that, thanks to Dean's Club funding, is being utilized for online course use.

Tung Ong '90, '99, the Walker College of Business' dedicated computing consultant, is helping meet the urgent needs of technology tools, connectivity and training for Walker College of Business faculty members as they prepare to transition courses 100% online, beginning March 23. Pictured, Tung works among computing equipment that, thanks to Dean's Club funding, is being utilized for online course use.

Acting Dean Sandra Vannoy said that Dean's Club donors have helped meet the needs of approximately 120 business faculty transitioning to online course delivery with only a week's notice. "Our Dean's Club funding has allowed me — and Appalachian — to nimbly lead our business faculty as they teach our 3,000 business students through a global pandemic," she said.

Ong says that even though the escalating pandemic and resulting UNC System decision to transfer courses online was unexpected, the Walker College's faculty and staff are prepared. "Our faculty members already have laptops, and many already teach online," he said.

Ong added that "it's good to see our faculty step up to help each other." He said that the more experienced online instructors are workshopping those with less experience, helping to get not only their own students, but also their colleagues ready for the shift.

Every Appalachian faculty member was asked to communicate with the students in each of their courses during the extended spring break period, March 16-20, so that students feel specifically prepared for the course changes.

Ong said that even though instructors and staff are working "overtime" to prepare; there will still be challenges to face. "Right now, with coronavirus worldwide, the supply chain could be disrupted. Timeliness of equipment deliveries could be an issue, for example," he said. "But as far as our campus, everyone is doing everything they can to make sure our students are successful and as stress-free as possible."

Vannoy said, in an email to all business students, that "the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting us all... I'm thinking about you and your families during this unprecedented time. While our students come to Appalachian's campus from around the nation and around the world, we're a family."

Ong said he is confident the Appalachian Family will be successful in transitioning to online course delivery.

"If a student needs a computer, the college can provide one, and the university's Information Technology Services (ITS) unit is leveraging uDesk, a virtual desktop environment, allowing students who need access to special software log into machines on campus that have it installed. Ong cited an example. "Some students studying computer information systems require virtual access to GMetrix, a program that allows students to practice taking Microsoft Office Specialist certification exams. Our ITS staff are working hard to ensure our students can connect to our labs virtually — just like they're there in the Peacock Hall computer lab."

Ong, a 29-year veteran employee of Appalachian, said he thinks it's important to stay positive through this pandemic. "We just need to support each other," he said. "We need to reach out to do as much as possible for our students to support and comfort them, too. It's every faculty and staff members' responsibility to check on not only students' physical health, but also their mental health."

Vannoy said that she recognizes "each one of [our students have] unique circumstances, and I will do my best to help [them] navigate this difficult situation."

As far as tips for staying healthy, Ong — who is known around Peacock Hall for always observing positive habits including hand-washing, eating well and working out daily — plans to keep working together and socializing, from a safe distance, through tools like Zoom and Cisco Jabber. He also recommends getting outside, and staying physically fit.

"While we know it may get worse before it gets better," said Ong, "we need to stay positive, we just have to come together to stop the spread of the virus."

Ong said that he feels fortunate to be an employee of the state of North Carolina at Appalachian. "We are lucky we have our jobs and many of us can work remotely."

The Walker College of Business is actively promoting social distancing and strongly encourages business students to study and take classes from home and business faculty and staff members to work remotely.

For details about the operations of Walker College of Business departments, centers and offices, see WCOB Coronavirus Information.

About the Walker College of Business Dean's Club

The Walker College Dean's Club is an annual giving society designed to benefit our students and faculty while enhancing our academic programs. Contributions from Dean's Club donors provide unrestricted support each year for critical needs in the college such as: student scholarships, travel funds for faculty and students to attend course-related conferences and/or visits to corporations, seed money for new programs or opportunities within the college, and resources to bring guest lecturers, such as leaders in business and government, to the classroom. Learn more at

Published: Mar 19, 2020 10:52am