I really enjoyed this week’s topics and readings, as they are incredibility relevant to the online learning situation we have going on right now at Virginia Tech and around the world. We have all had to adjust to online learning with the coronavirus pandemic. I have also had to adjust with teaching as well now teaching public speaking online.
I would have to say that this semester has actually gone pretty well in an online format. First of all, we are in a much better situation than we were in March. We knew relatively early that we were going to have an online semester, instead of in March when we had to transition on the fly. For the class, I think it has become much easier to collect and keep track of all materials. When our class was in person, we had students buy a course guide and rip pages out of it to fill it out and turn in. For recording speeches, I would have to carry a camera and tripod to class to film speeches and then upload them onto my computer. Online, everything is much easier. All I have to do is press a button on Zoom to record. All of the materials I collect from students is submitted on Canvas. Instead of handwriting feedback, I am typing everything up, which is especially good for me because I do not get spot evals about how bad my handwriting is. I hope in a post-covid world we can find a way to keep the efficiency of an online class without going back to more archaic means in some aspects of in-person teaching.
From a student perspective, I think the class is a bit easier for them. In terms of delivering their speech, they have less to worry about. While we were in person they would have to remember thing such as making eye contact with the whole room and projecting so everyone can hear them. Now in Zoom, they only have to look at their webcam to fulfill eye contact requirements and be in a quiet enough room so that they are heard.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think there are drawbacks. There is more room for distractions because we cannot really control what students are doing on their technological devices. On a personal level, I miss the face to face connection we get in a classroom. On a broad note, I am not sure if I was someone who was paying a lot to be at college whether it was a private school, out of state school, or through loans that I would want to enroll if I was not getting the experience of being in person. Some students do not have access to certain technological devices, which makes it hard to be inclusive of everyone.
Overall, the reality is digital pedagogy is here to stay. Even after covid, I imagine many things will stay virtual to maintain that efficiency of work that I mentioned. How we adjust to it when it becomes the normal will be critical to meet the ever changing needs of pedagogy.