With universities across the country switching to a remote-style learning, students aren’t the only ones who have struggled to adapt in these trying times.
It has been six months that students and professors have struggled.
The faculty of IUP has seen a lot of shortcomings in the fall semester due to most classes going remote.
Since many classes are taking place through Zoom, a virtual semester has forced professors to learn technology that they normally were not used to. It has also meant trying to find new ways to teach course material that was easier when classes met in person.
“I have seen a lot of professors get frustrated,” Austin Dukes (senior, criminology) said. “It seems to be taking a toll on them.”
IUP’s Executive Director of Media Relations Michelle Fryling has not heard another specific conversations or complaints from faculty, but she is aware that the semester has been tricky.
“I think every faculty member is having their own unique experiences and are working out best ways to teach during these unusual times,” she said.
Not only has remote classes been a struggle, but professors are also facing the possibility of retrenchment. It would see the loss of approximately 120 members of staff.
These changes have already affected some now former professors. Dr. Stacey Patrick was a professor in the geography department until the end on last semester.
“I was one of the many adjunct faculty who were laid off at the end of the spring 2020 semester,” she said.
Patrick had been a professor at IUP for 13 years before being let go.
“My position was already vulnerable due to the decreasing enrollment at IUP,” she said. “But the COVID-related housing refund really put the budget into crisis.”
Despite no longer working with the school, Patrick still wishes students and faculty the best through the difficult changes.
“Having been through the extraordinarily difficult last half of the semester we all endured in the spring; I know how terribly challenging it is right now.”
However difficult remote learning may be, not all professors find themselves facing problems.
Dr. Stanford Mukasa is a journalism professor. For him, the semester has been met with “smooth sailing.” Since 2002, Mukasa has been teaching students via online classes at both IUP and universities around the globe.
“My online courses are designed to simulate the face-to-face teaching environment by posting video recorded lectures on D2L and taking ‘virtual’ attendance during class times,” he said.
The biggest issue Mukasa has faced is through internet issues some students have encountered, and he had seen this issue especially with international universities.
Mukasa said he believed, overall, students had enough understanding of technology that made it easy to teach remotely.
“Shifting to online learning was natural for them.”
Professors and students alike will have more of a chance to get used to learning and teaching remotely as spring 2021 approaches. As of Oct. 6, it was made official by the IUP administration that the next semester will be set up the same way.
As for retrenchment, there is no say on which professors will be facing the loss of their job, but those who do will find out starting at the end of the month.