Talking to a Professor about Coronavirus Effects on BW’s Classes

The recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has changed life as we know it for many; however, many are trying to find a new “normal” to cope with the changes.

In order to keep students and faculty safe, Baldwin Wallace has suspended all face-to-face classes for the rest of the spring semester, opting for online classes instead. Dr. Denise Kohn, an English professor as well as the English department chair, expressed her thoughts via email on the situation, stating that she thinks the university’s decision to cancel classes was a wise one.

“We really had no other choice, and I’m really grateful to the administration for the leadership and understanding it has shown to everyone in this difficult time,” Kohn said. “I think having the extra week over spring break was really helpful to faculty and students to reorient themselves and prepare for our new reality.”

Luckily, she has taught online classes before, so the switch just took some creative thinking.

When making adjusted semester plans, Kohn discovered the major issue at hand: Students not having access to internet at the places they are completing remote instruction.

At first, she wanted to do more with the traditional online conferences such as “Zoom.” She became concerned about students’ internet access at home and even more so when it was clear that public schools and most workplaces were closing, too.

“Families need to be able to share computers and internet services with everyone working at home,” Kohn told The Exponent. “I decided I needed to be cognizant of any problems my students might have and plan more asynchronous assignments.”

If her students had signed up for an online class, she says, she would have done more with synchronous learning.

Throughout her career, Kohn has never dealt with a global pandemic of this kind before.

Things right now are scary and uncertain, with many people realizing just how much they took for granted in their daily lives, like going to the gym or having a coffee with friends. Like most people in the world right now, Kohn misses her daily routine.

“I really miss my classes and colleagues,” she noted. “I just really miss seeing and talking with my students in person on a regular basis. They’re smart, interesting, and thoughtful people. I think the remote learning is working OK, but class discussion feels more immediate and intense to me in person and in real time.”