Coronavirus vs. Penn State Professors

Photo from post-gazette.com

Following Penn State’s decision to hold hybrid classes for the fall semester, the transition to having Zoom classes has proven to be difficult for not just the students, but also the professors. For most people, a day of classes consists of sitting at home in front of a laptop on Zoom since there are not many classes actually being held in person. 

VALLEY wanted to focus on the transition from a professor’s point of view, as it has definitely been hard if not harder for them to adjust to this new norm. 

VALLEY interviewed Curt Chandler, a communications professor, for some insight on holding classes through Zoom. 

“I think that the school really tried to accommodate everyone, but it ended up being more Zoom-ier than anyone actually expected,” Chandler said. 

As far as classes go, it has been up to the professors whether or not to still hold in-person classes, while still following social distancing guidelines. However, all the big lecture classes were automatically moved online. Some professors have decided to hold in-person classes, while only allowing a certain amount of students to actually be in the classroom, while the rest of the class stayed remote. However, it does all come down to the professor’s comfort. 

“I have decided to hold only Zoom classes,” said Chandler. “Being a 60-year-old diabetic, I am definitely in the higher risk group.” 

In a world where everything has already started to be more digital, it would be seen transitioning classes in an online setting should be easy. However, this is not the case for some older professors or those who are not as experienced with technology. Technical difficulties are bound to happen when it comes to online classes, starting the very first day.

“I have had to adjust the way I teach my classes because the quality of showing a video through Zoom is not good at all,” Chandler said. “That has been tough because a lot of my classes are based upon videos that I show in class.”

With Zoom classes, many limitations and challenges arrive within itself. It is definitely hard for professors to build up a relationship with their students if their only interactions are through a screen. It is also so easy for students to remain silent through a muted mic or camera, tempted to click off a meeting or get distracted by their environment. 

“I had definitely found it hard to build a connection with my students,” Chandler said. “However, I am trying my best to work around it. I just held office hours for more than an hour today, and for some of the meetings we talked about so many other things than just class.”

Penn State also recently announced that the spring semester will be held the same way as this semester, with in-person, hybrid, and remote classes available. 

“I hope that by the time the spring semester comes around, I will feel comfortable enough to step into the classroom,” Chandler said. “However, I want to still be around in a year” 

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