As all Loyola classes transition online for the rest of the semester, some professors say their main priority is making the change as smooth as possible for students.
Loyola’s administration announced March 12 via a school-wide email that students living on-campus in residence halls were to move out within a week’s time, and all classes should resume online by March 23.
Meghan Condon, a political science professor at Loyola, said she’s mainly concerned about the students than the class itself transitioning online.
“[We professors] understand that this is a big deal and that students are having to make a big transition and a big change, and that it’s harder on some students than others,” Condon said. “And for graduating seniors, this is especially disappointing. … We know that, and we want to help you through it.”
In a revised syllabus for one of her classes, Condon included advice for students to take care of themselves and others while in social isolation.
“Spend some time thinking about a routine,” she wrote for this week’s tip on the syllabus. “Put daily schoolwork, exercise, time outside and virtual connection (FaceTime, Phone) into it if you can. Try it out, but don’t be too hard on yourself.”
Condon also said she’s recording “mini lectures” that are shorter than actual classes for students to watch on their own time.
Like many other professors, Condon is using Zoom — a university-approved platform for video and audio conferences, chats and webinars across mobile devices — as one way to communicate with her classes online.
According to Loyola’s website, all active faculty, staff and students have the ability to host their own meetings on Zoom using their Loyola log-in information.
Claudio Katz said he co-teaches an honors class of over 260 first-year students with seven other professors. Rather than teaching a couple hundred students in a lecture hall, Katz said professors are recording their lectures for students. Smaller discussion groups of around 20 students have also been replaced by Zoom meetings. He said learning how to use the technology to teach students remotely has been daunting, but he’s “getting there.”
“Yes, I can teach, but I was not born to act,” Katz said of speaking to a camera instead of a class of students.
Patricia Lamberti, the program director of Loyola’s multimedia journalism program, said professors within the School of Communication have focused on changing assignments so students can meet the learning objectives of a class without being in a public setting or meeting people face-to-face.
“We are all very concerned,” Lamberti said. “There’s a lot of anxiety and school [work] should not be adding to the anxiety. … I’m not saying that everyone gets a free pass but I think that we all need to be understanding of each other’s situations.”
She emphasized the concept of social isolation and that students should remain six feet away from others. When it comes to journalism classes, Lamberti said a lot of writing and reporting can be done electronically. While this is a difficult transition, she said learning how to change plans quickly and think on one’s feet are necessary skills now and as a professional journalist.
David Klinger, a physics professor at Loyola who teaches second semester physics online, said although online classes can be a great timesaver for students, they require a lot of discipline.
He said his biggest concern right now is the well-being of his students. In terms of academics, he said he’s also concerned about student engagement. He said he’s worried students who aren’t as engaged with online classes as they are with regular classes won’t do as well during exams.
“It’s not their job to adapt to this,” Klinger said.