Teachers adapt to remote learning, one hurdle at a time

A person's elbow can be seen braced over a computer and an open notebook. It appears to show homework.

Story by Ally Vaupel/ Contributing Writer

All MTSU students are taking on-line classes now as a precaution against spreading the COVID-19 virus.

This change to online learning has come with chaos for students and professors, especially the hands-on lab courses. Professors knew this change was not going to be easy, but after three weeks on the new coronavirus schedule have managed to find ways that allow students to continue to succeed in their courses.

Nicole Foran, an associate professor in the Department of Art and Design says she has a hearing impaired student, so she was unable to use Zoom meetings like many professors.

Instead, she started using YouTube videos she found that related to her class, Drawing II, so her student could use the closed captioning in the video.

“(In) sculpture (class), they were about to move into aluminum pouring, and students don’t typically have foundries or welders at home, so, the faculty member changed the project, and students are now going to be constructing their own COVID-19 face masks,” said Foran.

Michael Parkinson, director of the School of Music said this school has moved all music classes online, but it hasn’t been easy.

“It’s pretty complicated to get everyone to get in line and say ‘Okay, here we go, everyone jump off the cliff at the same time,’ ” said Parkinson. He teaches a jazz class that teaches students how to teach middle and high school students how to play jazz. He said, he has faith in his 17 students, judging by their attendance and engagement this semester. He said they were some of the most dedicated students he’s ever had while at MTSU.

“The idea is to give them a solid foundation, a sufficient amount of information so that they will get through this, they will succeed when it’s their turn to teach,” said Parkinson.

The course is very hands on, with Parkinson playing a passage that the students echo, but now that seems impossible. He is recording lectures and walking his students through their textbook.

“The expectation is still there, that they’re going to work on these things, it’s just that my ability to hear them is severely limited,” Parkinson said.

Jennifer Vannatta-Hall, associate professor in the School of Music said she has employed software such as Panotoso she can show sheet music in real time.

She also found a free app, Marco Polo. When a student uploads a short video, Vannatta-Hall instantly receives a notification so she can critique it.

“We’re trying to meet the needs of our students, with the confines of not meeting face-to face,” said Vannatta-Hall. “I think we’re making the best of what we can with the circumstances, and I’m feeling really good about it. It’s prompting us to learn new ways to communicate, to teach and to serve our students.”

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