Professors’ outlook on online school

Professors encourage students to focus on school; find the time to do homework and study

Professors+are+working+to+help+their+students+stay+focused+with+online+school.

ANNIKA ZEIGLER

Professors are working to help their students stay focused with online school.

KASSANDRA VOGEL

Online school during a pandemic was a learning experience for not just students, but professors as well.  They had to learn how to transfer all their resources onto Blackboard and Zoom, to missing the connections they made with students during in-person office hours.

Gabriella Bedoyan, teaching assistant professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, recently celebrated her 15th year of teaching. Bedoyan chose not to hold lectures through Zoom because she was facing the competing demands of teaching live classes and helping her own young children with online school. Instead, she prerecorded her lectures as a solution.

“I thought it would grant everybody the flexibility we need if everything is prerecorded and students can go at their own pace,” Bedoyan said.

Her summer was spent preparing and recording all her lectures for the upcoming school year, which left her with no downtime. Although it was difficult, it was the right choice, she said.

“I’m the kind of professor that loves to have student interaction and to get the sense of my students,” Bedoyan said.

While Bedoyan preferred to interact with her students in a live setting, her solution was necessary for the situation.

“I think it was harder on students than it was on me,” Bedoyan said.

For newer educators like Abigail Salazar Romero, doctoral student with a focus in American and Cultural Studies, teaching during a pandemic offered new challenges. Spring will be Romero’s fourth semester of teaching its in general so she was very familiar with the struggles of an online format. Zoom was not her favorite, she said.

“I couldn’t really tell who was engaging with the material and who was not, so that made me feel more nervous,” Romero said. “It is hard to stay in one place for so many hours because it makes it difficult to be really excited.”

Ultimately, her love for the subject matter and the freedom to create her own course work were the positive aspects that helped her stick with it. After restructuring her ethnic studies class for the spring and removing the bulk of the assigned readings, Romero said she is feeling more optimistic about this semester.

“Being able to teach how I want to at this point, and having my own voice is something I have really liked,” Romero said. “I am excited now that the class is different because I am hoping that starting with more of a discussion and a lecture, I will get more engagement.”

Bedoyan noticed some freshmen students struggled to keep a consistent schedule and completing work on time compared to her older students.

“It is a lot of the same right now [and] we are all in the same boat. But I am trying to give as much grace and flexibility to my students as I can,” Bedoyan said.

Two of her professors at the University of Utah inspired her to teach, Romero said. Their compassion and understanding assisted her in gaining her degrees.

“We don’t know what is going on in others’ lives, so I provide my students with compassion I’ve experienced, and hope that I can play a role in helping them graduate,” Romero said. “Because of the two [professors] I had, that led me to want to pursue a Ph.D. and teaching. As I get this degree, I want to be that difference and help with retention rates of first-year students.”