From room to zoom: Edinboro professor talks online education

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 at 12:06 PM

Imagine: it’s the fall semester of the academic year. The leaves begin to fall, and as they disappear, they turn to snow. It’s time for your first class of the day after a blizzard was roaring outside the night before. You carefully drive down Route 6N, past Wal-Mart and Tractor Supply. It’s then that your tires decide to dance on the ice, your vehicle sliding off the road. Now you’re late to class.  

“I don’t have to worry about students in a ditch,” said Dr. Jennifer Dempsey, when asked about the advantages of online learning. Dempsey is an education technology specialist and assistant professor in Edinboro’s middle/secondary education and educational leadership department. 

The two primary programs being used for remote learning at Edinboro this semester are D2L and Zoom. D2L has been part of Edinboro’s educational DNA for a while, but this year the university, and PASSHE, introduced Zoom to students’ lives.  

With these online programs allowing easy access to connect the classroom, there can also be many difficulties, including students or professors with poor internet connection, having household distractions, or even simple misunderstandings. 

As helpful as these programs are, Dempsey believes, “If you don’t create a relationship with students, then no amount of technology will help.” She explained that having a professional relationship between professors and students will make this new style of learning easier for everyone. 

Dempsey recommends that professors should “be in connection with their students.” She said she achieves this by helping them “to stay calm and patient. With the pandemic there’s a lot of fear and students bring it into the course.” 

Dempsey also emphasized the importance of “technology fatigue” with this new system of learning. She explained technology fatigue as using technology for an excessive amount of time. Dempsey recommends that the best way to avoid this is for students to “take a non-screen-based break.” 

With constant online classes and club meetings being hosted online, it is much easier to become technologically fatigued, and taking a short break to step away from the screen can help to focus the mind and relieve stress. Dempsey said that this break could include hanging out with family or friends, going for a short walk, or simply eating dinner. 

Dempsey also advised that it is very important for students and staff to: “take a deep breath and be patient. Give yourself a pat on the back.” 

Jenna Tupitza is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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