CPP faculty members share challenges of teaching remotely

As Cal Poly Pomona enters the halfway point of the fall semester, the switch from in-person to virtual instruction has placed many CPP instructors on a tight rope to replicate the classroom learning experience online this fall, demanding them to balance both their personal lives and teaching in one setting.

Many faculty members have found solutions to cope with teaching remotely; for others, it has been a difficult transition to bring their schoolwork into their own home.

Courtesy of Seema Shah-Fairbank

Seema Shah-Fairbank, an associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department, has found a tough time teaching remotely, as she was forced to transform her own home into a classroom.

“This has been really hard with remote teaching,” said Shah-Fairbank. “My office is in the living room and teaching remotely has resulted in more work and I am having to work late into the evening.”

Giuseppe Lomiento, associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department, faced a similar struggle to Shah-Fairbank, noting how difficult this year has been for him.

“A personal struggle I have been facing is physical fatigue,” said Lomiento. “Keeping students motivated, fostering discussions, managing questions, and so forth, requires a higher level of physical commitment.”

This level of commitment was put to the test during the abrupt switch to online during the spring semester. Instructors knew it was going to be a challenge, because they were forced to somehow find a method of taking their in-class plans to online lectures. Luckily for some instructors, this abrupt switch to online teaching was not a new challenge.

For Kevin Carpenter, an instructor in the Biological Sciences Department who has previously taught an online class, by the time the fall semester started, he was prepped with the content needed to teach his students.

“I knew how to do this, and in March of this year it looked increasingly likely that we were going to shut down to do this and I told my students that I knew how this was going to work,” said Carpenter. “I don’t teach over Zoom; I actually record the lectures over on screencast and I record them on PowerPoint.”

Courtesy of Kevin Carpenter

Carpenter elaborated that he plans out the content for his students a week ahead, in case of any instance where he falls behind within the current week.

From grading, meeting with students and lecturing, instructors are working tirelessly, and some find that personal life and schoolwork are blurred.

“One of the biggest problems is because we are teaching remotely, the line between work and home life has become more blurred,” said Raymond Kampf, a communication design professor in the Department of Arts. “I had to but a moratorium that at five o’clock every day, I do not look at any school work related to Cal Poly.”


Courtesy of Raymond Kampf

Despite their efforts, instructors may not favor this method of remote teaching. It has been difficult for faculty members, luckily there have been a few in-person classes that have been approved on campus. But for now, this is the only format option for them to teach.

“No, I do not like this style, but we can make it work,” said Giuseppe. “I believe learning uses all five senses, but sadly we are only using two, vision and hearing.”

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