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  • Writer's pictureBeth & Tim Manners

College Profs Adjust to Online Classes

USA TODAY: "Mark Naison, 73, had just days to move online his decades-old class, a history of music from rock-and-roll to hip hop ... The technology, mainly the video-streaming software Zoom, was unfamiliar to him. And without a physical presence in the classroom, the professor at Fordham University wondered how he would keep his students’ attention. He wasn't sure how to use the music videos he had played live in class ... So he filmed himself rapping. His material included odes to social distancing, hand-washing and self-quarantining. He is not the fastest rapper, but his rhymes mostly work. And his students seem to appreciate the lengths he is willing to get a laugh." "On Friday morning, five College of William and Mary students — some of them in focus, others a bit blurry — followed along via Zoom as Professor David Feldman drew economic models on a whiteboard ... But then, on one of the students' screens, a door slowly swung open. A furry yellow cat popped into the student’s lap. Hardly anyone noticed, and the rest of Feldman’s lecture went off without a hitch. Students were even able to break off into digital groups to talk about local and national economies. Zoom has an option to ping the instructor, a digital raising of the hand. But most of the students opted instead to raise their hands in real life. Feldman could spot them easily." "Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, an English professor at Arizona State University, said many of the institution’s students work in the service industry and are out of work as a result of the virus ... Part of making things more bearable for students is altering the expectations for what they need to do. Fonseca-Chávez was teaching a graduate-level course this semester that only met once a week for three hours. She knew that was not going to work online ... Instead, she shifted some of their discussions of literary texts to online message boards ... For the most part, the students seem to grasp the tweaks to the class, she said."

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