Fall at WSU has been a unique experience with learning and teaching delivered completely online. I have had issues and frustrations over test-taking and going on a wild goose chase to find all my assignments for the week.
Having to learn five different online learning platforms as well as learning how to navigate Blackboard has been a challenge.
However, students have not been alone in their efforts to navigate this semester. Professors are the unsung heroes of WSU this fall, working hard over the summer to develop plans to shift their classes to online.
“We build our own course, and we understand how things work and where all the links are and how things fit together,” Megan Hall, teaching assistant professor in the WSU Department of English, said. “It’s really challenging to divorce ourselves from our creation and put ourselves in the students’ view and how they will interact with this content.”
Professors understand that the students have five or six other classes and want to make life as stress-free for students as they can. Professors have also done their best to make their classes engaging and interactive for the students. They are trying to put students in the best situation to succeed.
“What I’ve been able to do is utilize Zoom’s breakout rooms and designate space on an online synchronous whiteboard and small groups can work together to type, make notes and write on it,” William Hall, assistant professor of mathematics, said.
William is truly able to create a virtual classroom instead of meeting with students, assigning them work and sending them off by themselves to complete it. This creates a sense of community between students that might not be typically felt.
I have spoken to only a handful of my peers this fall, so William’s strategy of creating small groups for students to work in is a great way to keep students talking to each other. William said to approach professors via email or Zoom to talk about any issues you may have but stay respectful and kind.
“You have to understand that some [professors] are teaching a lot of students, all of our class sizes went up, we have colleagues and friends who have lost positions and loved ones … approach your issue with patience and grace,” William said.
Professors are human too, and they are dealing with the same issues and struggles that the rest of the world is right now. If you email a professor and do not hear back in 15 minutes, take a breather and understand how stressed everybody is.
Throughout the process of traversing this tough time, understand that at the end of the day, professors are doing what is in the best interests of their students. If a test is hard to access, or you can’t find where to turn in your homework, or even if you don’t understand the platform you are learning on, just know that people are always able and willing to assist you.
Reach out to a professor or staff member and they will be happy to help.