It’s been an interesting first week of online classes, with everyone —students, faculty, and people’s dogs—still adjusting to the change of staying home. UMass Boston professors have spent their spring break making big changes to their syllabuses and choosing the method of online teaching that they find most appropriate. Some professors are using Zoom, some are posting videos of themselves teaching, and some, citing their distrust of technology, are communicating with their students via pigeon post. These new circumstances have definitely forced faculty to get creative.
While switching to online school may be a natural transition for the tech-savvy, some professors who prefer the chalkboard are struggling with the shift. One example of this is a professor from the history department, who wishes to remain anonymous. On the first day back from classes this professor opened up the photo booth application on his computer at 10 a.m. precisely, and began to teach. It was only after he received confused emails from 21 students that he realized his mistake.
“I guess I did notice that nobody was asking questions or anything, but I didn’t think much of it,” the anonymous professor said, when interviewed on Wednesday. “They don’t normally ask questions; I guess I assumed they were just shy.”
When asked what method of online teaching he was now pursuing, the professor answered, “I’ve been considering pigeon post.”
However, this professor may reconsider the pigeon post, because according to sophomore Abbey Basile, “The pigeon post thing is not working out. On Tuesday we had a test in my biology class, and I found my test torn up in shreds in my front yard. It turned out that the pigeon had decided to use my test as a lining for its nest on my roof. When my professor asked why my test hadn’t been turned in, I just sent him a picture of the pigeon nest. He turned the whole thing into a lesson about bird nest making. I just want an A.”
Of course, even professors that make it to using Zoom have run into their fair share of challenges:
“Someone’s curious grandma is always poking into the frame, asking questions,” said one frustrated professor. “I’m trying to teach here.”
“Half my students are still in bed during my 8 a.m. class,” said another professor, “This isn’t naptime! We’re learning advanced trig-super-calculus-geometric-algebra! So I typically blare an alarm sound until they all get up. They all are mad at me, but at least I’m not teaching via snail mail.”
One nice new highlight of online classes is the increased level of comfort in everyone’s school experience. You can now go to class on your couch, in your pajamas, with your dog, eating a snack, or sitting on the floor three feet away from the router because that’s the only place you get perfect Wifi reception.
Another aspect of online classes is the constant flow of emails into inboxes. Every day every one of your professors has a new thing to email. And for the professors, every day their inboxes are full of claims that “my dog ate my computer”.
“To be honest I can’t keep up with all the emails,” said an anonymous junior. “It’s crazy. And most of the emails are just, ‘don’t forget to check your window for the arrival of your pigeon.’”