Having to balance both online and in-person classes can be challenging for not only students, but professors as well.
English professor Ana Schnellmann discovered quickly last spring that the University’s response to the pandemic was going to double the work she put in to teach her classes.
“I have to do everything twice,” Schnellmann said. “Design the online, design the on-ground. I am not complaining. I’m blessed to have this job. I love this job, but the work is harder.”
Schnellmann is just one member of the Lindenwood faculty who has had to adapt to the reality of teaching while the threat of the COVID-19 virus has prompted people to wear face masks and stay at least six feet apart. The shift to online teaching began in the spring, but when students returned in the fall, University officials told them they would be allowed to take almost every class either in-person or online. The choice belonged to the students, not the professors.
University officials developed safety protocols that reduced the number of students allowed in any one classroom. A room that accommodated 20 students last fall might accommodate only six or seven this fall.
What these changes meant for Schnellmann and other Lindenwood faculty was that they had to be more flexible in their teaching than ever before.
“I’ve been teaching since 1987, but I had never taught online ever. And I avoided it as long as I could because it’s just who I am,” Schnellmann said. “So we had just a few days to put everything online and doing it just for two weeks, and the entire faculty, the humanities faculty was in their offices from seven in the morning until late in the afternoon recording lectures, trying franticly to get everything set up by Monday because there just wasn’t enough time.”
The science department has also had to try to keep a balance and make sure that students are able to get the hands-on experience they need.
Professor Jennifer Firestine is going on her 19th year at Lindenwood. It was also challenging for her as well to move everything to online classes.
“It was a challenge in the sciences, lecture-wise I feel like we could do a really good job with content, video lectures, and things, but adjusting to laboratories because we’re such hands on based presented a challenge,” Firestine said. “We did our absolute best to make videos and simulations available, but we knew on such a quick challenge it was difficult. I think we did the absolute best job we could do for our students, but it presented one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my teaching career.”
This was a big challenge for the science department when they moved their classes online during the spring. Now that students are back at school, they are able to get their hands-on experience that they need.
Students in Firestine’s class are also getting split in half where only half the students attend on a certain day to stay safe. All students on campus are required to wear masks and in the science department, students are also given a safety shield to wear.
“We have basically adjusted all of the lectures online, and I am using lecture time for labs, so that I could split them in half and we can get at least each student four hours of lab per week,” Firestine said, “and then we had to move 100% of our lecture material online in order to accommodate that, but they’re getting the best hand on experience they can get.”
Students have been given the choice to come back to campus and take classes in-person and online if they’d like. Jordan Jost, who is a junior at Lindenwood, has decided to come back to campus and take classes.
“It’s actually been pretty straightforward for me so far; I think it’s been pretty easy,” Jost said. “The nature of the classes that I have, there are some that are like better doing online and there are some that are better to attend in person, and I think Lindenwood has good enough policies in place to where I could choose to do both which is great. I like that not everyone is obligated to either go in person or not all strictly online, I like that we have the option to choose.”