Online Teaching during the Fall 2020 Semester: A Guide

Online teaching has changed the process in which students learn, but for professors, it has been more than just an adjustment period. Online teaching has prevented professors from making personal connections and answering questions swiftly, as well as making it difficult to ensure all students get equal attention. Despite these difficulties, BW professors are committed to making online or blended learning work.

Dr. Jeffery Covington, professor of English literature and composition, only taught remotely the first few weeks of this semester, then he transitioned into blended instruction. His classes are discussion based, so the change from having conversations in person to virtually through Zoom has been fairly smooth.

“Instructors are essentially teaching to two different groups during each class,” said Covington, adding that professors are so focused on the students physically in class and it can be difficult to make sure students online are receiving equal amounts of attention.

“There are other students…behind us…that want to contribute, have difficulty hearing comments, or type a question in the Zoom chat that we don’t see until minutes later,” he said.

Dr. Nadia Sahely, professor of French language, literature, and culture, discussed the various difficulties that faced foreign language courses.

“There is a lot of performance which goes on in a language class. I would often tell students that language learning isn’t rocket science, but you need to perform it the way a musician masters a piece,” Sahely said.

Foreign languages rely largely on speaking and interacting personally, so the switch to blended learning or an online format makes it more difficult.

“Teaching virtually (or in a socially distanced, masked class) means you have to rely on different ‘energies’ to engage the virtual classroom to promote understanding, get students to speak and interact, and to create an experience of immersion,” she said.

Sahely also said that Baldwin Wallace has provided several different workshops and training sessions to help with this difficulty.

During the Student Government meeting on Sept. 29, Provost Stephen Stahl mentioned that the 2021-2022 academic year would most likely include a mix of blended learning, virtual classes, and online classes. The past, current, and coming semesters have, and aim to, set professors up for success in the academic year to follow.