professors teach online


Abby EpsteinNews Editor

Adjusting, adapting, acclimating — these are three words that can be used to describe the transformation to distance learning.

The university plans to keep students on campus until Thanksgiving break when the semester will be finished online, but many teachers are skeptical the semester will make it to Thanksgiving.

“I decided to go all online out of caution, because I think that there is a pretty good chance that might happen to more classes,” said Charles Baraw, a professor in the English department.

WebEx, Microsoft Teams and Blackboard were some of the new connection tools that faculty and students had to familiarize themselves with for this fall.

“Last spring was more of a problem because it caught people off guard and the teachers were learning the system the same time the students were,” said Gary Morin, professor and chairperson of Health and Movement Sciences. “This year so far seems to be a lot smoother since [professors] had time to prepare.”

The Office of Online Learning has provided videos and extra information on how to navigate the new collaboration tools.

Other than adapting to the new programs there are other problems professor have come across; seeing everyone on the screen depending on the platform and having students turn their camera on.

“I’m asking students to turn their cameras on as the default,” said Baraw. If something comes up or prevents them from doing that, I understand that they can’t always have their camera on, but I feel it makes a big difference.”

Baraw decided this semester to do individual meetings with his students in order to help create a community with his students while doing distance learning.

“Most faculty at Southern that I know, we all care very deeply about our students learning and not just their learning but their lives,” said Baraw. “So, we all know how challenging it is for all of you and that is one reason why I like the individual conferences because that is when we connect on a human level.”

Some students said they can tell their professors are trying to make online classes run as smoothly as possible.

“I had my first meeting for my lab on WebEx and she seemed like she knew what she was doing. It was pretty planned and pretty organized and there wasn’t any trouble with people getting on the call,” said nursing major Cecilia Vess, a sophomore.

Prof. Betsy Goff was given the option on how she wanted to teach her class, whether she was in person, doing a hybrid class, or strictly online.

“I chose to do it at home because I am 72-years-old and had a bad health run recently and although I am very fit and healthy I don’t want to be at risk, I don’t want to go to a college campus,” said Goff, a professor in sports management.

Other professors decided to go online because if the school is to go virtual there would be no change or adjustment made to their class.

“If we are not able to continue with on ground classes and everyone has to go online, I felt it would be better to already have students adapted to that experience instead of having the abrupt change we had last semester,” said Baraw.

Professors have said they know this semester is an adjustment for students and it will take patience and being tolerant.

“It’s just not saying patients and tolerance, its actually knowing something about what each other are going through and when we do,” said Baraw. “We don’t have to tell ourselves to be patient or tolerant, we are, because we have empathy.”

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