Facing Challenges Zoom-On

How professors are adapting to the different changes of online teaching

by Julia Dunne / Garnet & Black

With the semester in full effect, many issues with the adapted COVID-19 schedule have become apparent. While everyone seems to be more concerned about the students battling a pandemic during their semester, it can be very easy to forget about those tasked with teaching. 

Professors are dealing with numerous limitations presented to them by online learning. They are still being asked to keep students engaged and motivated about their courses and being told to do so from behind a screen or wearing a mask. This can be a difficult task when students can be more easily distracted by phones and peers when they're now virtually present rather than physically. 

The new virtual element of school also causes a lack of in-person interaction that can make it harder for students to remain interested. This is adding more responsibility to professors by forcing them to adapt their course content to better cater to the needs of a virtual audience. It is inevitable that students and possibly even professors may become unmotivated due to learning interactions only being possible through a screen. 

The virtual aspect also brings about technical issues for professors. Assignments and tests now have to be adapted to work online. This can be very difficult, especially if a professor incorporates group projects or non-multiple choice testing into their class. It is almost if professors are being asked to teach as well as become technology experts. With inevitable technological difficulties comes student questioning and concern. With no in-person interaction, professors have to take most of their students’ questions through email which can be difficult to keep up with. 

However, asynchronous courses are not the only ones faced with new teaching challenges. Some professors are still holding limited in-person courses that offer their own issues. Thanks to new COVID-19 regulations, professors have to be constantly aware of each student’s distance from one another, while also enforcing wearing masks. Many larger class sections were forced to break up into smaller sections just so professors could accommodate the six-foot distance rule. This causes professors to have to break up their course content over several days so that each student has the opportunity to learn everything. 

A lot is currently being asked of professors, but hopefully, as the semesters go on the challenges will become easier to deal with. In the event of a second socially-distanced semester, professors will have a better knowledge of how to guide their students to success.