Faculty Resilience Keeps Education Moving Forward Through COVID-19
Remote learning and faculty meetings all require video software such as Zoom, as seen in this screenshot provided by ECSU’s Dr. Charles Reed, upper lefthand corner. Since March, ECSU faculty and students have been holding classes remotely.
Although the spring 2020 semester has brought on a new teaching protocol, going entirely online as students and faculty stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the professors working today are familiar with remote teaching. However, this is the first time in the institution’s history that university’s entire curriculum has been taught remotely, and it is something faculty, working from home, has had to adjust to over the semester.
History professor Dr. Charles Reed says he starts his day around 8:30 a.m. when his 9-year-old son has his daily Zoom session with his K-12 teacher at the kitchen table. Meanwhile, if Dr. Reed doesn’t have a scheduled meeting with colleagues, he might enjoy cartoons with his 5-year-old son.
“I spend much of the day talking to and meeting with students, grading, advising and preregistering students, reading and developing course content,” says Dr. Reed.
On days he has scheduled classes, Dr. Reed will have an “optional” afternoon Zoom session with students in his South African History course during the time the class would have physically met on campus.
After spending family time in the afternoon, Dr. Reed will resume his work, grading and working on his book. He says the schedule works for him, and he believes other faculty members are handling it well, also.
“Many of our faculty teach online regularly so I like to think that we are ahead of the curve in many ways,” he said. “I am the program coordinator for our online program in Interdisciplinary Studies and feel at home and comfortable teaching online.”
Dr. Joy Smith is the dean of education and business. Although she is not teaching courses this semester, her job demands a great deal of attention and, like her colleague Dr. Reed, she is online and on the phone throughout the day.
“A typical day starts with answering email questions and being available for online office hours,” said Dr. Smith.
Throughout the day, she is attending university meetings online. She is also busy preparing for the next semester. And while Dr. Smith is not currently teaching remote courses, it is something she has past experience with.
“If I am preparing a class for the next term, I may also spend a couple of hours going over PowerPoints and recording lectures,” she said.
Despite being familiar with remote teaching and administrative duties, professors say there are challenges. Dr. Smith says the “lag time” is one challenge she overcomes day-to-day.
“I don’t get the instantaneous response to things I am presenting that lets me know whether the class gets it, or it’s sort of coming through, or they’re totally lost,” she said. “That feedback in a face-to-face class helps me pace my lectures and make sure that students understand the concepts.”
Dr. Reed says that the “biggest challenge has been supporting students and helping them navigate through this historic moment.” And although many ECSU faculty have experience preparing for and teaching online courses, the short notice to switch to online curriculums earlier in the semester has been “labor intensive;” they have risen to the occasion.
“The fact that we have done it with real success is a testament to the staff, students, and faculty at ECSU,” he said.