Wesleyan Faculty Adapting the Wesleyan Experience to Online Learning
Tuesday, April 14th, 2020
On March 23 all undergraduate and graduate courses moved to remote instruction to safeguard the Wesleyan community from the health impacts of COVID-19. Faculty worked diligently to convert their seminar style classes to an online format while ensuring each students' needs were continuing to be met.
"My focus going into this was not to create anything new for my students to do but to look at what I would have done with them face to face and attempt to create the same feeling and opportunities. I set up a private Facebook Group so that students can interact and share things pertinent to the content we're discussing each week. These can also be safe places for students to present for longer than five minutes and to engage in longer conversations. I am also using Zoom to teach a lesson once a week which then is shared in multiple venues for those who were unable to join live. I am trying to keep the Zoom lessons short, pertinent, and engaging. Finally, I restructured our Canvas course content to reflect the weekly expectations and check ins on the virtual sites," said Associate Professor of Education and Education Department Chair Virginia Bowman Wilcox '90.
Associate Professor of Music Chenny Gan ’02 shared, "I am now using a combination of assignments to simulate the experience and learning outcomes planned for our students. For my applied piano lesson class, I started using a new video-feedback software called GoReact, which allows students to upload videos of their performances for me to evaluate carefully using time-stamped multimedia tools. I also teach them piano lessons via Zoom from my living room."
"I can see ways to use some of these virtual tools in future hybrid and face-to-face courses to enhance levels of interactions. I have found some of my students who rarely raised their hands to participate in class are participating more in the new online experiences. I can see that they've logged in more frequently, stayed in the areas longer, and spent more time viewing and reviewing the content. They also spend more time debriefing, reflecting, and providing feedback to their classmates. It's a very cool thing to see happening," observed Dr. Wilcox.
Dr. Gan said, "I try to be there for my students as much as they need me, and I continue trying to be the best teacher I can be. Great teaching is what Wesleyan is about, and it's what I love, so I continue to hold that as a top priority. Regardless of the medium through which we have to teach, I believe that meaningful transmission of knowledge, community engagement, and critical thinking can still be accomplished."