By: Lauren Wolters
Oilers face the first week of the spring semester fully online
The University of Findlay kicked off its spring semester a little differently for the new year. For the first time ever, the first week of classes occurred completely remotely. In other words, the usual introductions and syllabus-run-throughs were administered via Zoom. Naturally, the UF community had a lot to say about this unprecedented experience.
“I survived the first week of class online, but it was not without its hiccups,” said Dorys Evans, a first-year pre-vet major. “In a few of them [Zoom meetings] the microphones weren’t working, and there were some technical issues visually, but overall, it was not too bad.”
Kerry Teeple, UF Assistant Professor of Teaching in Education, had previous knowledge of instructing Zoom classes from last year’s lockdown and prior to that. However, she has never taught the first week of a semester synchronously online until now.
Teeple shared her thoughts on the first week in an email interview, “My Zoom muscles were still in shape from last semester, so the technology went well! I had almost no absences and the students who were absent communicated with me prior to class. Overall, it was a great first week!”
Eric Stoller, Assistant Professor of Teaching in Sports Management and Coordinator of Internship and Co-Operative Programs, also taught all his courses this past week via Zoom. While this was a new experience for many UF professors, Professor Stoller taught all his courses last semester via Zoom too. This experience has given him a lot of positives to online learning.
Professor Stoller listed several of these positives in an email interview, “People who aren’t feeling well or travelling can still join class. Students’ names are on the screen for guest speakers to know who they are. Guest speakers are more willing to join through Zoom, and most people are pretty good at using zoom now. Breakout rooms give a great opportunity for group work,” he said.
“The biggest positive is students are learning to adapt just like actual businesses,” Professor Stoller specified on his field of expertise, business. “We are learning newer and more efficient ways to work.”
Professor Teeple revealed her own positive thoughts concerning online learning the first week of the semester. Professor Teeple thought the schedule allowed more time for introductions.
“I spent more time this week on ‘get to know you’ type exercises with my students than I usually do,” Professor Teeple admitted. “I was trying to compensate for the lack of personal interaction that can come with online learning. It turned out to be a wonderful thing! There was a nice, laid back atmosphere that might otherwise be covered up with an agenda in face-to-face learning.”
Because of this success, Professor Teeple even confessed that she may set aside more time for introductions in the first week of her future courses.
Despite the benefits of extra time to ‘get to know’ each other, there were negatives to an online first week.
Professor Stoller found that “Being at home they [students] have a lot of distractions with roommates, tv, phone, pets, etc.”
Along with that, a lot of people dislike the lack of personal connection with online learning. Professor Teeple falls into this category.
“I just enjoy seeing people, the whole person, not just a face. It helps me to remember students better and make unique connections when I can see them in person,” she said. “It’s much harder to interact with 26 squares instead of 26 humans! That’s a drawback of having the beginning of the semester online.”
Professor Teeple also stated the difficulty of reading body language through a screen, which can be hard for both students and instructors.
UF students are adapting to these unprecedented experiences despite the shortcomings. Evans provided an example of how UF students have adapted to Zoom.
“Personally, I learn better in person and around others, so for those classes where everyone had their camera on, I felt that I was better able to understand and learn,” Evans stated.
It seems that UF professors have noticed this as many required their students to turn their cameras on for the Zoom meetings this week.
The UF community continues to face unprecedented experiences. The first fully online start of the semester appears to be just one of many more unprecedented experiences to come.