It is no secret that students all over the world have been impacted by the changes that came with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Students all across the United States have been forced to move to online classes, which has been an easier transition for some students, more than others. Nearly three million students around the country struggle with not having home internet, according to NBC News.
But how has the transition to online classes affected educators?
“I needed to become familiar with more software and needed to rearrange my individual class plans,” John W. Cordes, PhD, associate professor of communications, said. “We are all adjusting and learning not only new material, but how to interact with it and others in class. ”
“Our primary concern wasn’t how the transition to online teaching would affect the faculty,” David Madway, an instructor for the department of mathematics, said. “We were extremely worried about its impact on our students in terms of dealing with the trauma of a major public health crisis and its effects on their families’ wellbeing”
“The problems of accessibility and affordability of the technology, as well as the impact on our diverse learners, are within the domain of our on-campus experts,” Madway said. “We are all working closely with the administration and the DRC to ensure that the online modality is meeting every student’s unique circumstances. But these effects are long-term and we have to recognize that the impact of the crisis goes far beyond providing the material means and technical support for online learning.”
Moving to online classes means that professors, many of which are unfamiliar with the software being used for online classes, have faced some struggles. Thankfully, faculty have made it a point to lend each other a helping hand. Madway said that his colleagues have been very helpful and that they communicate often about what works and what doesn’t.
Unfortunately, for professors, the hardest part about the transition wasn’t navigating the online courses and requirements.
“The hardest part about transitioning to online classes is not being fully physically present with my students in order to see more of how they are doing,” Cordes said.
“I miss the students. I miss my colleagues. I miss seeing them in person. I miss the easy conversation with my students before and after classes and the in-person interaction that defines our daily lives,” Madway said. “And then there is the lost opportunity to build productive and mutually beneficial working relationships with students, staff and faculty. This time is lost forever. And for many of our seniors who have been an important part of our lives for four years, we have lost the opportunity for final farewells and good wishes.”
Like every difficult situation, there are always positives to be grateful for. For many professors, they are grateful to have been able to adapt, in order to continue to teach their students and have gained a greater appreciation for the tools that they had before.
“I have a greater appreciation for face-to-face classes,” Cordes said. “And in the future, I will be more comfortable developing hybrid format classes.”
“One positive is that I have learned a new teaching modality,” Madway said. “Most importantly, I have learned a new depth of appreciation and love for the people I care about: my family, friends, colleagues, students and those I don’t know, but share a common purpose.”