Sept. 11, 2020 | By Bella Staal | Illustration by Bibi Powers
Last Tuesday, Colorado College announced they would be significantly reducing the number of students living on campus, as well as the number of classes being held in an in-person or flex format. In addition to international students and students experiencing hardship, those who are already enrolled in an “in-person class, a hybrid class that fulfills the lab general education requirement, or Senior Studio Seminar” will be allowed to stay on campus, according to the official announcement.
Both students who will be remaining on campus and those being forced or choosing to leave are likely to be affected by this change. However, students are not the only ones caught off-guard. Many professors who had planned to include in-person lessons in their classes this semester must re-evaluate their options. Others will be seeing very little change to how they have been conducting classes since they went online in the spring. Three professors in three different departments spoke to me about how the changes will affect their teaching.
Elizabeth Coggins, Associate Professor of Political Science, said that “Having things moved online doesn’t affect my game plan or mindset too much.” She added that “While online learning is obviously quite different, I do believe that we can do great work together nonetheless.”
Coggins has adapted her own work-from-home space by buying a standing desk and a wide lens camera, which she uses to record “interactive lectures” that she posts on the Canvas page for her class. In order to maintain the high standard she has for her students, Coggins tries to keep them engaged with daily discussion questions, group discussions, and mini assignments throughout the week. To accommodate student’s different circumstances, Coggins splits students into discussion groups based on the times that work best for them, and said she has become more flexible about deadlines.
Sylvan Goldberg, Associate English Professor, is also trying to focus on flexibility. With classes over 10 people, he said, “It just becomes a challenge to hold a whole class discussion on Zoom, and definitely once you get over the threshold where you can keep all the faces on one screen on Zoom, it’s really hard to have a whole class discussion.”
When a student told Goldberg this block that they were having trouble getting their voice heard during discussions, Goldberg decided to split the class into three sections, and meet with those sections independently. But Goldberg emphasized, “What works for one class may not work for another class,” so he plans to keep himself open to different options as the semester progresses.
Murphy Brasuel, Associate Professor of Chemistry, has been teaching his Block 1 class online. He said his Block 2 class “is able to continue as hybrid since it is one of the classes that is designated for the [lab] credit, so the recent announcement on changing plans is not yet impacting my fall courses.”
Brasuel was featured in an article published on the CC website this spring about his General Chemistry II course. In the article, Brasuel emphasized how collaboration among himself, other professors, and department paraprofessionals was integral to the success of the class. But Brasuel also admitted that there were aspects of online teaching that were noticeably weaker, such as lacking the ability to go from table to table to help students with their work.
As students and processors continue to adapt to changing plans and circumstances, open-mindedness and flexibility are keys to success. As CC often emphasizes the flexibility of the Block Plan, this upcoming semester – and year – will definitely put that flexibility to the test.