By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
As students begin their new normal of online education throughout the duration of the semester, professors have had to make many adjustments to their syllabi, teaching styles, content and ways of interacting with students.
In light of this transition, the University Libraries has made a series of online courses available on their website. These courses are open to any faculty member, staff member or student that feels they made need to learn new skills in order to adapt.
Many of the courses are held throughout each day covering varying topics. Today’s topics included “Online Worries Debunked”, “Student Engagement Online”, “Kaltura 101” and “LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor.”
Tomorrow’s schedule includes these same courses with an additional “Webex Basics” course.
While the the Library and Academic Technology Services offers training sessions routinely, David Burns, associate vice president of Library and Academic Technology Services, said they have made plans to offer many more sessions after the switch to online courses.
“Under normal circumstances, we might have provided three sessions per month on average,” Burns said. “Over the past 12 days, we have provided 60 training sessions for faculty.”
In the first week, 131 staff members attended the online sessions and in the second week, 764 attended.
“While this situation does provide an opportunity to experience both the pitfalls and benefits of online teaching, the circumstances present significant challenges that don’t normally exist when faculty deliberately choose to design and teach an online course,” Burns said.
While some professors are choosing to pre-record their lectures, send out PowerPoint notes and use discussion boards, some professors have also begun to utilize video conference sites such as Webex and Zoom to host their classes.
Curtis Callaway, senior lecturer in the journalism department and professor of media photography and video journalism, began utilizing Webex for his courses Monday. He said that he has received a good reaction from students so far as they get to still meet face-to-face and have questions answered directly.
“[Students] like it because they want to see each other’s faces and the one on one with me as well,” Callaway said. “That’s what they paid for. It’s kind of a bit of a struggle for all us, but I think we’re going to get through it. This is definitely a learning experience for all.”
Webex and Zoom are both websites that allow professors and students to join together in the same video call, as opposed to meeting in person for class.
In addition, Callaway said he will be utilizing Kaltura, an online video platform, to pre-record certain lectures for students to go back and look at for reference if they have questions.
“The university has been great, our departments been great,” Callaway said. “They’re offering all kinds of support. When they extended the spring break to a second week for students, that second week was us doing training. The whole week it was training sessions. They offered online, they came to our department, we had meetings.”
In addition, the use of online resources such as YouTube has provided additional Canvas tutorials for professors as they learn the various ways to utilize the website.
However, issues such as returning and picking up equipment like cameras, lab equipment and studio equipment for various assignments remains a question for many professors.
In light of this, Burns said that he has been especially impressed with the collaboration among faculty and with their willingness to share resources.
“Faculty and experts have quickly created and willingly shared numerous resources, how-to videos and advice on making the shift to online teaching,” Burns said. “The idea that instructors are all in it together and willing to help each other, collectively working to make the best of this situation, is inspiring.”