Switching to Distance Learning and How Professors Have Adjusted.

Professor of Mathematics David Jones Facebook picture, Professor Jones is active on the COS Student Connection FB page in order to assist and stay active with students.

Provided by David Jones

Professor of Mathematics David Jones Facebook picture, Professor Jones is active on the COS Student Connection FB page in order to assist and stay active with students.

From taking computer and writing classes to better prepare for distance learning, to just missing the daily interaction with students, some professors are doing their best to make the most out of distance learning while dealing with the challenges it presents.

March marks one year since College of The Sequoias switched its learning platform to distance learning in response to the global pandemic. Leaving many administrators and teachers in a scramble to move their entire lesson plans online and sort through new ways to engage with students and keep learning interesting. All while navigating new software programs and technical difficulties, no reports of a professor showing up to zoom as a cat yet.

A lot of the time when we hear about educators and this pandemic and how they are dealing with it, it usually comes in the form of negative light. Professors being pranked by their entire class during zoom, or teachers and administrators losing their cool without realizing they are still on the camera. What is not seen enough is the reality that these educators and administrators are also people, some of which have children they are also homeschooling, or family members battling COVID.

Professors just like students and parents had to find their footing when it came to switching to a fully online format, some professors going as far as taking computer courses on the very same campus as they teach as is the case with math professor David Jones. Professor Jones is not new to online instruction but even for those who have taught online, there were still challenges as Professor Jones stated, “My biggest challenge was filming the lecture videos without an audience.” Talking to a group of tired, overwork college students is still probably more engaging than a webcam recording you.

Some classes and professors made the switch to distance learning without too many bumps along the way due to having some experience teaching some classes online. However, classes such as Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry just does not have the same effect online as it does in person says Professor Laura Jacobo “student engagement, students waiting till the last minute to submit assignments, students not putting a block of time aside” when explaining some of her challenges with teaching her class in an online format.

A feeling that is felt by many professors at COS, Michael Skaff who teaches accounting 1 and 2, and income tax preparation cited the same challenge of getting students involved with class participation. The ability for students to turn off cameras and microphones during Zoom might mean this will be an ongoing challenge professors will face.

One thing a lot of professors seem to agree on is the ease at which students can access and utilize office hours, something that might have been an issue prior to distance learning due to busy work-school schedules interfering with professors’ scheduled office hours. Professor of Anthropology Marla Prochnow likes this ease of access also for her students “convenience for students that cannot get to campus; busy lives; student-parents” a perk that sets some students that might have struggled to get assistance or assignments submitted in a timelier manner a better chance at staying on top of their schoolwork.

Without a doubt, however, the majority of both students and professors agree that the in-person format is the most beneficial for the majority of students and subject matter. So as a student next time you are working your way through CANVAS and wonder what your professor was thinking when setting it up, or frustrated because part of your module is not published, remember that this all switch to distance learning was just as much a challenge for professors as it is for students.
We are in this together!