Campus News

Handling the Online Transition

by The Beacon Staff

We are all facing some pretty significant digital challenges these days. Even if you’re a digital native (a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age), working with professors who are not tech savvy can make things rough. Many of the faculty members are struggling to adapt to their evolving roles as educators. Most of them are developing digital fluency exponentially, while others have held on firmly to some old standards that only marginally involve the use of some of the amazing technology that’s been made available to them. 

To illustrate this broad range of teaching options, I’ll write a little about my own experiences. For instance, in one class which was an online class to begin with, the instructor assigns four projects a semester. Two before the midterm, and two after. I think there is one discussion post near the end in addition to a quiz every week at the start of the course. These quizzes, while slightly annoying, are only 10% of the grade, and we are allowed to take them as many times as we want, so it’s pretty much a gift that can only count against you if you just blow it off. Each week there is a lab to do, and the professor actually records herself doing these labs with the expectation that you’ll be doing them with her. If you do, the projects are actually pretty easy. But since the labs are not graded, it’s easy to blow those off. When you do that, the projects seem a lot harder. 

My professor is teaching two sections of this class, one is face to face and the other is online. Here’s the interesting part. The online students are almost all getting an A, while the face to face students are struggling. Both classes have the exact same material available to them, but clearly they just don’t respond well to online instruction. I don’t get it… From the luxury of your own bed, with food and drinks nearby, and the comfort of your sweats or even pajamas, you can watch the video tutorials on your phone, and follow along on your laptop. SO easy.

My other class is an art class, and I know what you’re thinking…it’s that starts-loud, audio-fade “NOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo.” But guess what? My teacher has totally stepped up to the plate here. He starts us off with a Zoom meeting where we all talk about our work and the way we interpret the assignment. We then discuss what we plan to do moving forward. He corrects- or should I say directs our thinking, helps us expand the way we think. He calls us by name and asks each of us to talk, so it’s not very different from class. After that, he calls us one at a time and, having sent him photos of our work, we review each piece. I can’t imagine how much longer this takes him than regular class, but I am actually grateful for it. I mean, we are getting a lot out of it.

In another class I am taking, it just feels like the instructor is overwhelmed. I helped her learn the tools of Zoom, and we are plodding through the material, but the video class is a lot like regular class. She asks a question, nobody answers, there is some awkward silence, and then she tells us what she wanted us to say. There must be a way around that. 

I feel bad for my classmates that seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. I have heard some of them don’t get Internet at home, or don’t have devices, but I also heard that SMCC is providing laptops to those who need them. So it baffles me why about half of my classmates don’t show up for the video meetings. I mean, I get it, these are weird times. But for me, it actually helps me to have a little bit of structure in my day. I’m lucky, I guess. I can go out for a walk, I made myself a “no sew” face mask (here’s the link for that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_HgS61y9BY ),and I take walks a lot during the day. I’m keeping my distance, texting and calling my friends, and doing more art projects than I expected. One of my teachers made this cool website that I have visited. I plan to do some of the projects she posted. Here’s that link: https://questionengagedream.com/

Categories: Campus News

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