A Reflection on the Sudden Transition: Ideas to Make Your Synchronous Online Classes More Fun
From: Faculty Focus April 29, 2020
Article by: Siva priya Santhanam, Ph.D.
The transition to online teaching has been partially, if not completely, challenging for faculty teaching in colleges and universities. I am writing this article while reflecting on my own experiences since March 16, 2020, when our university made the decision to move to online teaching. Online teaching is not new to me; I have spent a great deal of time and effort learning and understanding best practices in online education, and I think I do a decent—if not stellar—job at it. But the speedy transition to online format has shifted my focus from student engagement and fostering the joy of learning together to “content delivery.” I have experienced a sense of rush and inadequacy, and I feel a need to hide my fears and challenges with this online transition from my students.
When this online transition was announced, I had only two requests of my students: I asked them to please be patient with me as I figured out this change, and please trust me in this process. I have noticed that students have been extremely flexible, understanding, forgiving, and even sweet and supportive during this process. Although they have more at stake (in terms of grades and graduation) and additional concerns with housing, family commitments, and jobs, they have been my biggest support system. However, my biggest challenge has been limited engagement in online synchronous classes. Even students who are typically talkative and engaged in face-to-face classes, do not engage as much in an online format. I use a hybrid approach—part of my class is asynchronous and part of it is synchronous online.