Required in-person instruction managing virtual learning transition


Jennifer Hernandez, Reporter

Some professors have shared their experiences on coping with the new adjustments and the difficulty in replicating the effectiveness of in-person lab research.

Following campus closures, professors across the nation have begun adjusting to virtual instructions and remote teaching through video conference softwares.

The department of chemistry and biochemistry is one of the many departments trying to rapidly adapt and transfer all learning materials online. As a department where classes rely on hands-on labs, the change is more complicated.

“Transferring laboratory classes has been extremely tough, with many of my instructors and teaching assistants spending huge amounts of time making recordings of parts of experiments to demonstrate online,” said Simon Garrett, department chair of chemistry and biochemistry. “The critical laboratory experience, the hands-on part central to chemistry and biochemistry, is almost impossible to replicate online.”

President Dianne F. Harrison expressed her gratitude to CSUN students, faculty and staff members for their commitment and determination in the new transition in an email on Friday.

“Staff are navigating the new reality of remote working while others are continuing to provide critical services on campus, maintaining physical distance and utilizing hygiene protocols,” said Harrison in the email. “Administrators are moving quickly to support the redeployment of resources to support these changes and find new ways to conduct operations, and our students are connecting with classmates and their instructors in new and meaningful ways.”

The removal of face-to face-instruction has presented challenges to the Department of Cinema and Television Arts as well.

“It’s tough for professors teaching production,” said Todd Holmes, a CTVA assistant professor. “That has been a real problem because the equipment that those classes require haven’t been available and the classes also require on-site practice.”

According to Holmes, the department has offered professors several resources such as the CSU Entertainment Alliance, which is providing free resources that enable professors to share educational videos with their students.

Holmes said some students have voiced concerns of various problems with Zoom sessions for different reasons, such as time zone differences, lack of time or a lack of resources.

“I have a student who had to go back home to China so there is a time difference between us,” said Holmes. “I have been recording my Zoom sessions and uploading them so it will be available on Canvas. We are committed to cater (to) students with any problems (with virtual learning) because we don’t want anyone to be at a disadvantage.”

CSUN has offered a number of resources to its faculty in any department in order to assist with virtual schooling. Some of these resources include advice on Zoom etiquette and on working from home. The university has also promoted access to broadband providers who are offering free Wi-Fi access.

The same resources are also available to any students that may need them in order to make virtual learning more efficient and accessible.