Home News Teaching online: Concordia’s professors prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

Teaching online: Concordia’s professors prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

by Juliette Palin September 6, 2020
Teaching online: Concordia’s professors prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

Months of training have lead faculty members to this moment

As we head into the new school year, we all contemplate how we will deal with the mountain of work that university brings. We organize our schedules, prepare our home offices and get ready for an academic year like none other.

But while we’ve been busy coping with the student side of things, Concordia’s faculty members are adapting swiftly to the online teaching model.

Professor Alan Nash teaches geography classes such as ‘A World of Food’ and ‘Place, Space and Identity.’ He used to motivate his students by throwing bags of chips their way when they answered a question.

But when thrown into the world of remote teaching, Nash had to find other ways to communicate with students.

“One of the things I tried to do is develop my PowerPoints so it would be possible to read them all through. But I realized that even written all out, some of it is not clear. Some things … need to be narrated or talked through.”

Nash is leaning fully into new teaching techniques to best deliver his courses online.

“I think what’s important here is I am as keen to figure out from the students what’s gonna work and how to do things,” he says. “I think we also have to recognize [online learning] is a different thing.”

Professor Amélie Daoust-Boisvert teaches many classes in the journalism department, such as ‘Gender, Diversity and Journalism.’ With an engaged teaching style, Daoust-Boisvert says, “it doesn’t matter what platform you use … What’s important is the relationship you are able to establish [with students] even though it’s online.”

Providing students with one-on-one meetings and small group workshops, Daoust-Boisvert is taking an asynchronous approach to her classes.

“For the shyer ones it’s a little easier. Because if you are 20 or 40 [students] in a Zoom meeting, maybe you’re a little shy to raise your hand. So those are the things I’m thinking about. I’m sure I will have to adjust anyway.”

Our professors have faced many challenges along the way, Alan Nash notes.

“In the geography department, we’ve had workshops on Friday afternoons where we got together on Zoom and said ‘Hey, how are we going to do this?’”

Although these professors have different teaching styles — and therefore have differently structured online classes — they both agree that feedback from students will be key.

“Usually [when] you’re in class, you know they understand or they’re bored — you see it in their faces,” says Professor Daoust-Boisvert. “I think everyone is looking for feedback right now.”

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