The pandemic has not been easy on anyone. Especially in the world of academia, former ways of learning and teaching have largely been thrown out the window for the time being, as all levels of school attempt to educate students safely. On college campuses, the changes have been most dramatic. Many universities have elected to move to remote instruction entirely, while others have brought students back with an abundance of regulations and a hope that they will not have to send them home before the semester is through.
The focus has been largely on the students these past few months. There has been much concern about their adjustment to online learning, as well as trying to “do college” from a home environment, and these concerns have been rightly placed. But what of the professors? What of the instructors who have been forced to teach in a way that many of them have never taught before?
According to Julie Raulli, Ph.D, a professor of Sociology at Wilson, the new changes this semester have come with both benefits and challenges.
In addition to her struggles with Panopto, she has found that “not having that ‘regular routine’ each day has been hard.” And perhaps one of the most disheartening parts of this online semester are the uniquely-Wilson activities and experiences that are now absent.
Says Raulli, “I miss seeing students, running into them around campus, visiting with my colleagues in their offices, having coffee at the College café, seeing our beautiful campus green from my office window. I miss athletic events, Arts Day, Orchesis performances, The Common Hour. Should I go on?”
But for this sociology professor, the glass is half full. The online format, although tricky at first, has provided her students with numerous opportunities to share ideas and connect with each other through discussion posts and Zoom meetings.
“I think in some ways I have become closer to my students by being able to meet with them over Zoom at various times of the day. I enjoy the ease of ‘hopping on Zoom’ and meeting with a student to hear about their work or talk about what we are reading or watching together…Online instruction often requires more writing, but I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to be more introspective and deeply explore questions and ideas. I truly enjoy reading the interactions students have with one another in online discussion posts,” she says.
She speaks highly of both Wilson staff and students during this largely transitional semester and urges any students struggling with aspects of their courses to reach out to their instructors, Student Life, or the Academic Success Center. No matter the teaching format, “We do the work we do because we believe that higher education opens up the world to students. We will do whatever is in our power to help you.”
Like the rest of the Wilson family, Raulli is eager to return to campus in the future and hopes to learn from the challenges this transition has presented and use these experiences to better her in-person classes in the future.