As the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States, students and teachers alike have made necessary changes to adjust to the new remote lifestyle. While instructors agree that in-person learning is essential for an effective education, many have expressed gratitude for the challenges and changes that online instruction has yielded.
Martin Kettling, a professor in the Theatre department, mentions that the key to effective instruction is allowing students to utilize space and build meaningful connections. Kettling’s typical classes involve students working “on their feet.” With the move to online instruction, the classroom space has transformed into a “restrained box” that “limits their perspective.” In one class, Professor Kettling had students create videos to describe a personal story that had a profound impact on them. Despite the physical separation between students, these videos no doubt helped to build deeper connections between them.
While this transition has been frustrating, Professor Kettling acknowledges that “challenge breeds innovation.” Remote learning will no doubt provoke innovative and remarkable ideas that will vastly improve the physical work environment.
Joe Cornelius, assistant professor in the Knight School of Communication, has experienced similar problems. In a physical classroom, students often use camcorders and other studio equipment to create compelling videos. With the shift to online instruction, students are now “limited to what they have at home.” Since most students are restricted to their iPhone, Professor Cornelius has focused primarily on the “theory and fundamentals of multimedia storytelling.” In the spring, he hopes that students will be familiar enough with these fundamentals that they will be able to apply their skills physically.
Also in the Knight School, associate professor Dr. Daina Nathaniel is grateful for the many advantages of online instruction. This semester, Dr. Nathaniel teaches both Global Communication and a capstone course that encourages student collaboration and discussion. For Dr. Nathaniel, operating both synchronously in her capstone class and asynchronously in Global Communication has “worked out nicely.” While she misses the spontaneous ideas created in a physical classroom, she still appreciates that students continue to meaningfully collaborate with their peers. Dr. Nathaniel stresses that, when pertaining to communication, “people are the most important.” Online instruction has allowed students and professors to catch a glimpse inside of each other’s lives. For Dr. Nathaniel, that kind of connection is unmatched.
In the science department, assistant professor Dr. Aaron Socha and other instructors have had to utilize creative instructing techniques. This semester, Dr. Socha teaches General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry I Lab. In his lab course, Dr. Socha mentions that he has had to be “innovative with learning” and has so far achieved “good results.” Even though his courses are primarily hands-on, modern technology has made a vast difference when it comes to online instruction.
Last year, Dr. Socha successfully convinced the university to invest in Remote Desktop, a software that provides students with many outstanding Chemistry resources. This software has the ability to make calculations, name compounds, predict spectral properties and even make drawings of chemical structures. Additionally, Dr. Socha was able to send students kits full of chemistry materials that allowed them to perform three of the labs from home.
Even though remote learning has been the cause of frustration and stress for many teachers and students, it has led to the advancement and improvement of many modern technologies and teaching techniques. At Queens University, professors value time with students. No distance will prevent instructors from being there for them.