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Going Online-Only: Professors make the most out of first day of revised courses


Empty seats accompany someone using the computers at Charles V. Park Library March 17 on campus. The Charles V. Park Library originally remained open despite classes being moved online.

For some Central Michigan University students, the first day of online of classes meant watching a video series of their professor performing dance techniques.

"Now they are in the process of making their own videos so that I can watch them doing the dance technique that I taught and send them each back individual corrections," Heather Trommer-Beardslee, theatre and dance faculty member, said.

Other students tuned into a Zoom class and attempted to sing together, despite the distance and different internet speeds.

"We took a stab at singing an exercise together and the combined, variable lag in thirty simultaneous feeds was hilarious," music faculty member James Batcheller said. 

On March 16, students and professors had their first day of online-only courses after all face-to-face classes were moved online until at least April 6 amid coronavirus concern.

Professors are relying more on Blackboard, the online learning platform CMU uses, and have been utilizing video teaching software, such as Zoom and WebEx. 

"I’m very proud of the response of faculty and staff and of the efforts our faculty have made to transition rapidly to teaching online," Provost Mary Schutten said. "This change in modality has created the need to be very creative and innovative in their approach, and they are keeping their students’ needs at the forefront of their work."

Much like Trommer-Beardslee and Batcheller, other professors have needed to get creative with presenting their content to students.

Recreation, parks and leisure faculty member Tim Otteman said that his first day of online classes was very tiring due to all the thinking and work it took for him to make his content online course compatible.

"It took a lot of brainpower to come up with a solution, and then you have to go and implement the solution," Otteman said. "I had to think my way through this, then I had to go tape it and then I had to put it up."

The professors have been working to give students the best educational experience possible.

"I am doing my best to create meaningful experiences for our CMU dance students despite the challenge of not being in the dance studio with them," Trommer-Beardslee said.

Batcheller said he has been struggling with making up for missing performance aspects, but he believes that Day One went as well as it could have.

"Our Zoom discussions were engaging and fun. It's not like being in a room together, but the students are being incredibly cooperative and patient," Batcheller said. "All in all, the day was a great success." 

Otteman also noted the cooperation of students. He said their reactions were the best part of his first day of online classes.

"The feedback from the students was, 1) Thank you for sending it out and making it fun and entertaining, but also informative,'" Otteman said. "And, 2) We know how hard you're working to make this the best situation for us. Thank you we appreciate it.'"