By Kira Wood, Correspondent
“Have a nice Spring Break!” Professors said goodbye, and students gathered their belongings and shuffled out of their last classes. No one anticipated the coming outbreak of COVID-19 and how much the world was about to change.To prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus on campus due to spring break travel, ERAU Administration made the decision to close campuses and move to online teaching on Mar. 13, 2020. Many students’ breaks were ruined by the news of online classes. Professors’’ breaks were cut short as they prepared to teach virtually for the remainder of the spring.
One of the main issues with virtual learning during the spring 2020 semester was receiving feedback and maintaining student attention.
Professor Heather Marriott said that “During in-person classes, I could see students’ faces and their reactions to the material. I could slow down or speed up the lecture as needed. This was much harder online because most students had their cameras off and I could not see their puzzled expression or frustrated look.” Professor Marriott taught Computer Science 1 and MATLAB and during the spring semester.
As a result, teachers had to actively communicate with students and ask them questions.
Dr. Brennan Hughey felt that “it was hard to get student feedback and understand what issues they were having. Explicitly posing questions and soliciting suggestions in Canvas helped.” During the remainder of the semester, he found that posting videos for asynchronous learning was more effective when long videos were broken into more short ones. “Not only was it pedagogically better for student retention, but it’s also less of a disaster when Canvas declines to save your work and you have to start over.” Dr. Hughey taught Physics 3 and Quantum Mechanics.
There were also lots of logistical challenges and technical difficulties teachers encountered. Professor Marion Mager who taught HU145 last semester, had previous experience teaching online and helped other instructors integrate Canvas into their curriculum.
“The hardest challenge I saw was them struggling to learn how to use Canvas. Canvas is not a difficult [Learning Management System (LMS)] to use, but they had a learning curve that was time sensitive,” Professor Mager explained.