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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Profs prepare

Pierce College professors are preparing their online coursework for the upcoming semesters as courses are expected to remain online until at least through spring.

As a result of COVID-19, the past two semesters professors have adapted their in-person courses to be taught online. 

Benny Ng, an assistant professor of chemistry, said in a phone interview that adapting his chemistry classes to an online format has been difficult, but has its upsides.

“Chemistry is a pretty hands-on discipline, you have the lab component and observations are better to make in person, so it’s been challenging,” Ng said. “But it also gave us the opportunity to go back and think about the current situation and what we really want our students to understand from the lab. So in terms of analyzing data, thinking about how to do the experiment, coming up with an experimental design procedure, I think there’s new stuff that a student can do using computer software, for example.”

Howard Schwesky, a professor of mathematics, said during a phone interview how difficult the transition has been for students and faculty.

“Not only is it challenging for us, the faculty, but it’s very, very challenging for the students,” Schwesky said. “As far as me being a teacher, it’s definitely more challenging because one thing I’d like to build is a rapport with my students. You can sort of do that with Zoom, but I’m used to having actual live people, faces in front of me.”

Schwesky included that he now makes multiple versions of exams for his courses, as one of his classes recently underwent a cheating scandal. 

James McKeever, a professor of sociology, also taught all in-person classes before the pandemic. He explained in a phone interview how he had to make major adjustments to convert his classes to fit an online format.

“I made assignments on Canvas for them and videotaped my lectures that I usually do face to face,” McKeever said. “I created quizzes and had a once a week discussion section so they could come in and we could discuss the material further. I wanted to create something that felt a little bit more like a classroom to them so that the students who hate being online and all the extra written work would have an option in my course.”

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