Virtual instruction becomes new norm

Face-to-face classes were temporarily paused beginning March 13 through March 17, which has posed different challenges and efforts on both parts for instructors and students.  

In an email to the campus community, Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley announced March 17 that all classes would be moved to an online format beginning March 18 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Students and faculty are still adjusting to a university that is now offering all instruction completely online. Some classes have been reformatted entirely due to the move. 

As an example, several courses in the theater and new dance department at CPP were affected when production was canceled a week before opening night. 

“We are exploring virtual reality (VR) and how it could convey and/or enhance presentational modes of student work this semester,” said Bernardo Solano, the chair of the Department of Theatre and New Dance. 

“Students will be participating in online workshops and seminars about VR and will develop presentations discussing how they would create VR-based content using this specific production as a test case,” Solano said.

Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post

Some students are embracing the change to online courses with open arms, especially commuter students who don’t have to struggle with finding parking and long drives to school.

“I was never a fan of the traditional schooling system of showing up to class, enduring class, then going home and self-teaching,” said Davis Dilanchian, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student.   “Face-to-face lectures were never that useful for me anyway, so the transition to online has largely been positive … not having to deal with traffic, carpool and parking has also been fantastic.”

However, not all students are having an easy time with the transition to online classes. Students who would study on campus or took advantage of resources provided by the university are struggling with the transition. 

“I rely on the school library, office hours and other students to be able to learn properly and get my work done,” said Cody Farlow, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student. “I know that Zoom exists and it’s a great resource, but I struggle to study at my house and there’s no libraries or coffee shops nearby that I can go to study.” 

One of the main struggles professors are having during this transition is the lack of response from students. While in a face-to-face class, a professor can easily read if a student understands the material or even if they find their jokes funny. 

“Personally, it hasn’t been too bad because all of my lectures are already in a PowerPoint presentation format and I’m already familiar with most of the technology like Zoom. I know how to upload videos to YouTube,” said Paul Nissenson, associate professor in the department of mechanical engineering.   “I think the most difficult thing has been trying to figure out how to read if the students are understanding what I’m saying.” 

Summer courses will also be offered through online methods, and face-to-face courses have been suspended, as stated in an email from the Office of Student Success sent March 30. 

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