From classrooms to chatrooms: An instructor’s persepective on the transition to online classes

By Sangeeta Shrivastava, contributing writer

I am a lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science in the Huntley College of Agriculture, and I teach online, in-person and activity classes. I am currently teaching NTR 3450 lecture and its two activity portions. This class is designed to teach future registered dietitian and nutrition professionals how to do nutrition education and counseling, and we were just entering into in-depth counseling practice sessions in our activity classes.

(Eduardo Rangel | The Poly Post)

Calling off in-person classes was kind of a real shock as I am a people person. I encourage my online students to come and meet me during my in-person office hours. I absolutely adore my students and love to interact with them in person. Non-verbal communication is a huge part of human interaction, especially in teaching and nutrition education and counseling. I personally feel a vacuum not having the opportunity to meet in person, like something will be missing in all my lecture classes and especially in activity classes. 

I am an educator and counselor myself and want to educate my students in innovative ways and make them passionate novice professionals. I feel my own passion in the field is a good driving force to students as they learn to become novice counselors. My goal is to bring the best in each student and invoke their own uniqueness.

But I understand the university’s decision. It’s for the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Social distance seems to be the only solution to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and flattening the curve of cases is very important.

I plan to record my lectures via Camtasia and also hold Zoom class meetings, and I am offering phone call opportunities to my students as needed to strengthen counseling competence. I believe students can still practice counseling with their family members and friends and can share their video and notes via Blackboard. 

As an instructor, I want to make myself more available to my students, and I urge students to take charge of their learning in the virtual format. A good partnership between students and faculty will surely bring the best learning outcomes, even in a virtual format.

All in all, I am totally thankful to our Dean Lisa Kessler who promptly jumped to educate us in online tools, and our Faculty Center shared enormous resources to make the transition easy for all of us. Ultimately, our goal is to protect the health of our fellow Broncos and still do our best so that our students’ education is not compromised.

My goal is to meet the needs of our students, and I am willing to switch my instruction in any way to meet the needs of my students while protecting the health of our students, families and community.

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