Faculty at Kent State appreciate remote learning and its unexpected benefits

DaJonay Johnson Teaching reporter

For some, remote learning has surprising benefits, professor Daisy Arokiasamy said during a Hyflex Learning event held by the Center for Teaching and Learning on Friday.

“I feel this is much better than in person teaching. I can do my work from home; I’m able to learn, attend and assist with family more,” Arokiasamy said.

As Kent State enters their second online semester, amid the stresses caused by COVID-19, remote learning is meeting needs to a greater extent. 

It provides a greater degree of flexibility, and it can be less stressful to manage alongside other commitments, Arokiasamy said. 

During the Hyflex Learning event, LeighAnn Tomaswick, a learning design specialist for CTL said, “I don’t have to travel 15 minutes or an hour from a regional campus to come visit; we can just virtually connect.” 

Director of Kent State online, Andrew Shipka, said students are attending class more regularly than they were in person. During traditional courses with 30 students, he would normally have about 20 students come to class. Now that he’s teaching remotely, there is almost perfect attendance. 

Since the transition, there haven’t been many faculty concerns about remote learning. Some professors have mentioned incorporating Microsoft Teams, but there’s no major difference to use teams instead of Blackboard, he said.

Online learning may be a permanent fixture in how institutions deliver undergraduate courses. 

“I can’t speak for the university in terms of what the future will hold, but I think change is possible,” said Jennifer Marcinkiewicz, Ph.D., director of CTL. 

“Nothing is off the table. If this is meeting some folks’ needs then there’s a possibility that there may be a shift in how we consider higher education,” she said.

CTL, the College of Information Technology and the Office of Continuing and Distance Education have worked together to support faculty during the transition. Information Technology has training on Blackboard and Teams platforms. They’re responsible for assisting faculty with the more technical needs, while CDE is responsible for assisting faculty with how they present their courses. This past summer the workshops reached a total of 800 faculty taking advantage of the program, Marcinkiewicz said.

The three offices coordinate with each other to assist professors with making an engaging remote learning experience. CTL is continuing to offer workshops weekly for faculty to learn effective strategies for remote instruction, with particular emphasis on student engagement. Kent State encourages faculty to continue to share their views as it relates to experiences with remote learning.

DaJonay Johnson is a teaching reporter. Contact her at [email protected].