Professors discuss the advantages of teaching on campus


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Professors discuss about their experiences about being back on ground after two years. Professors were happy to finally be back in class with students.

After two years of having classes online and one semester where hard to convert classes came back on ground, professors discussed how they feel being back on campus for the spring semester.

Many chemistry classes were taught remotely prior to this semester, and Chemistry Professor Michael Russell said he feels great about being back on campus and teaching students in labs again.

“I understand that we needed to teach remotely during the pandemic, but teaching chemistry is, especially in the labs, is much more useful for the students when it’s actually hands-on. And so now that we’re back on campus, I’m enjoying it a lot more and I think the students are getting much more out of it,” Russell said.

Online learning had its up and down moments, as both professors and students were learning to adjust. Many students had never been on campus before, and professors like Russell tried to make the transition back on ground easier by making students feel comfortable speaking to him about any issues they may have.

“I left a lot of that material up for students to see and look back at to actually help out with the new hands on [experience] because many of them had never been to our college yet,” Russell said. “ In general, other simple things was I sent maps of the campus to students. I realized early on that many students had been taking courses here for over a year, but had never even been to the campus.”

Interacting with students in an actual classroom was an experience that many professors missed, as they can talk to students face to face and not over a computer where students often wouldn’t turn on their cameras for classes..

“In my Chem 401, the lectures are here on campus right after lab. And I think, for me, being with the students in person and getting real time feedback and real time questions answered, going back and forth with the students, I love it,” Russell said. “ I mean, I love working directly with the students face to face. I think the students like it better but I don’t want to speak for them. But I think they think they like that interaction better as well.”

Music performance classes were also online prior to the spring semester, and coming back on ground allowed students and professors to perform in person again.

Music Professor Maxwell Kiesner discussed how being on ground can really teach music students the ins and outs of preparing for concerts that couldn’t be taught online.

“Now that we’re back on ground, we have, you know, six performances a semester that all these have a setup and warm up, a whole like additional set of hours of preparation that go into them,” Kiesner said. “Mapping logistics, giving directions, having a successful event are all part of the game as it usually would be when we were on ground.”

There are many advantages that music students have when learning in person that they couldn’t have when learning and performing online.

“We just didn’t have the capacity to do synchronous performance experiences with the technology we had,” Kiesner said. “We were using other apps to perform so there wasn’t an ability for me to hear them and give them feedback in the same way that I can do that now. I can hear them immediately. Make changes immediately. We can change arrangements instantly and improvise things that we’re not able to do in a virtual environment.”

Professors like Russell and Kiesner are both happy that they get to teach and experience being on campus again after two years of being online.

“It feels really good to be back and playing with the students. The classes that I teach are performance classes, so it’s actually really nice to teach my academic lecture class at the hall,” Kiesner said. “So it’s nice that I get to have that experience and the experience that I have on the ground is with really highly motivated students and we’re all doing something creative. So it’s kind of the best of both worlds.”