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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State professors share perspective on remote delivery learning

Photo+credit%3A+Hannah+Thompson

Photo credit: Hannah Thompson

Groans echo from students as they stare at a brightly lit screen, eagerly waiting for their professors to provide an update on what the remainder of the spring semester will hold. COVID-19 has forced professors out of their classrooms and comfort zones, thrusting them into online territory that may be unfamiliar.
Texas State announced all courses will continue as online-only, three weeks ago, bringing extra stress to students and even more so to professors who now have to compromise their curriculum to satisfy the needs of an online structure. For professors who teach interactive courses like a performing arts class or a lab, they find this change to be especially difficult.
Lawrence Larson, electrical engineering professor of practice, said the most challenging aspect of switching to online courses has been figuring out how to conduct his senior-level engineering lab through Zoom.
The second half of the courses semester is dedicated to building circuits, with the final originally consisting of them writing a paper determining the functions of their creation. Due to limited access to materials off-campus, Larson has eliminated the creation of a circuit, which is usually his students favorite part of the semester.
“At least for this semester, the plan is basically that I will give them information that they might have taken. They will still need to do the analysis part, but will lose out on physically building it themselves.”
Larson said he is disappointed he will not be able to see his students achieve a portion of his class that was highly anticipated.
“This is the cool stuff, this is the last supreme build of things (students) don’t normally get to play with,” Larson said.
Although a screen has now replaced a stage, dance professors must navigate the challenges of remote learning to ensure the magic of dance is not lost within their students.
Michelle Nance, dance professor, said she was initially shocked and confused about how she would be able to transition a movement class online. She said a studio setting allowed her to use hands-on teaching methods to help the students adjust movements and dance pieces where-as an online platform she feels less like a teacher and more like a demonstrator.
“(In-person) there was a back and forth energy, whereas online there’s not as much feedback without stopping what I am doing, to look at the screen, ask how they are doing and so on,” Nance said. “It has been challenging not having that physical interaction.”
She said most students have voiced their concerns on limited space accessible in their apartments. Although it has been difficult, she views this learning curve as a chance to expand both her own and her students’ creativity by using materials they can access while at home.
“We have had to modify what we are doing so we stay in place but (students) can use the kitchen chair, the carpet or whatever they need to use to modify a dance,” Nance said. “If the students want to do something unusual like a piece in a confined space, then I’ll say okay, go into your closet with a flashlight and explore those elements of dance or choreography.”
Texas State’s physical therapy program has an interactive curriculum that prepares students for the pressures faced in the competitive and professional field as a physical therapist.
Angela Rich, physical therapy professor, said along with her teaching partner Jacob Garza, the two decided to create a normal environment within the abnormal circumstance, while they broadcast demonstrations and lectures from the lab. She said the best way to create a physical therapist is to provide hands-on tutorials on the skeletal models in order for her students’ to learn the proper techniques.
“Regardless of coronavirus, (Dr. Garza and I) are going to produce the same level of physical therapists that comes out of this program as we’ve ever produced,” Rich said. “That has been the biggest challenge, how do we make that same physical therapist in the environment we are in right now.”
Despite the immense challenges faced by professors, they are proving themselves to be innovative and ensuring the students receive the same level of education as before.

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