CSU professors talk about virtual teaching
When the coronavirus made its way to Ohio in March, Cleveland State University responded by converting entirely to remote teaching and learning. On-campus instruction returned for the fall semester, but many classes are still meeting remotely, forcing students and professors to adapt the ways they learn and teach.
Teaching online has become the new normal for the foreseeable future, and professors see advantages and disadvantages to the practice.
“I prefer discussing literature without wearing masks, since we are discussing the human experience, including the full range of human emotion,” Literary Analysis professor Rachel Carnell said. “It is nice to see the expression on students' faces as we chat, which is more feasible on Zoom than in a classroom, when we would all be wearing masks and sitting at a distance.”
Instructors said it is more challenging to get students to participate with online learning than in a classroom. Professors like Carnell and English professor Julie Burrell can’t really connect with their students online because some students can not or will not use their cameras for many reasons.
“At the same time, it is difficult, either logistically or for family reasons, for some students to use the video connection during class,” Carnell said. “I feel disconnected from those students who either cannot or will not use their video link — and more disconnected than I would feel from students sitting in the back of a classroom and not raising their hands to participate."
She has also found that office hours are better online. Students seem to come to office hours more often online than in person.
“What I love about online teaching is that more students come to office hours, and office hours can work well either for individual sessions or as an impromptu group conversation”, Carnell said. “I will definitely continue with the option of holding office hours on Zoom even when we are able to return to normal in-person interactions.”
Burrell also teaches online and sees advantages to the situation as well.
“One major upside is that virtual teaching can be more inclusive of our students’ diverse needs, which include everything from childcare to disabilities,” Burrell said.
“While I’m glad I’m not teaching face-to-face this semester for obvious reasons, I really miss seeing my students in person and building a classroom community,” she said. “That said, I am so impressed with the way CSU students are handling this difficult transition, with their increased workload and added anxiety”.
Professors also have the resources of the university at their back.
The Center for Faculty Excellence offers different workshops, video presentations and individualized services for professors to help with remote teaching.
“The Keep Teaching website gives an overview of events we have offered since March, which includes faculty learning community book discussions, weekly webinars and the provost teaching summit,” Director of CFE Joanne Goodell said. “These are things we have been doing for many years, but we offered summer book discussions for the first time this year, and they were very successful.”
Hopefully in semesters to come, professors will be able to be back in the classroom engaging with their students. Meanwhile professors are doing the best they can with the resources they have .