WC professors need to adapt to virtual teaching by being more academically lenient

By Megan Loock

Elm Staff Writer

Last Saturday, I started homework at noon and didn’t finish until 8 p.m. As much as I try to stay on top of every reading, assignment, and discussion post, sometimes it’s too much. 

I’m not the only student who feels this way.

“America’s educators know little about how to improve the online learning experience — and many districts are spending almost no time trying to figure it out before the fall term starts,” USA Today reporter Erin Richards said. 

Across the country, online classes were perceived as a temporary effect of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Now, educators accustomed to in-class teaching environments are left with no idea how the online format should work.

Students working virtually are expected to give on-campus effort for classes that were specifically designed for an in-class environment. Professors can’t expect students to put in the same exertion at home as they would on campus, because the atmospheres are too different to inspire the same work ethic.

“It’s exhausting,” sophomore Julia Clifton said. “I spend the whole week doing readings in all my free time and then I spend my entire weekend doing readings and panicking because, no matter how much reading I accomplish over the weekend, I still spend the whole week reading.”

Assistant Professor of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature Dr. Katherine Charles has captured the essence of what professors should be doing to best accommodate students during the pandemic. 

After numerous students approached Dr. Charles with concerns about her class’s course load being overwhelming, she removed a novel from the syllabus. 

Senior Rebecca Kanaskie feels like she has seen multiple WC professors work to accommodate students in the new learning environment.

“There is a tendency to feel like ‘oh we have this extra time, let’s just pack more in,’ but that constant sense of progress isn’t realistic if you expect quality work,” she said. 

Students are ultimately left to teach themselves because of the limits imposed by video conferencing. We are expected to adapt without the same standard being held to our professors.

Indeed, many professors are struggling with the change just as much as their students. But change only comes when both parties admit they are struggling.

In her midterm evaluation, Dr. Charles wrote a comforting reminder.

“This is [our] class,” she said. “Let’s work together to make the most of this time.”

Students’ opinions on their course load should be valued now more than ever. Without their feedback, there is an imbalance of power between the educator and their students. The less students communicate their academic needs, the greater this imbalance will become.

Featured Photo caption: During the virtual semester, many WC professors have been expecting the same amount of academic vigor from their students online as they do on campus. Photo by Izze Rios.

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