Skyline Teachers More Comfortable with Zoom Instruction

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March, it introduced students to the new normal of online learning. And it all happened very quickly. For those who need a reminder, March 11 the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) announced that classes would transition to primarily online courses starting March 17. 

So with about six days of planning, Skyline College professors had to embrace and tackle this just as much as students had to a new way of teaching just as much as a new way of learning.

Courtney Ghan is an English professor at Skyline who hadn’t used Canvas or Zoom to their full capabilities leading up to the end of the spring 2020 semester, but used them in order to keep her classes on a normal routine.  

“I was getting a lot of positive feedback from students They felt most connected to my class because I was consistent with meetings,” Ghan said, who also got word from her students many teachers and classes just got put off

And in order to be flexible with her students and maintain her own expectations, Ghan had to cut a unit of the curriculum for that semester. With that, along with the college and district giving out information on the fly, it was a tough time to be an instructor.

“It felt like at that time, I was on an island,” Ghan said. “I felt I was trying to keep my ship afloat that I couldn’t get advice (from colleagues). I just really needed to worry about making sure I did what I needed to do.” 

Ghan credits a five-week Canvas training course that she took at Skyline in the early summer with making her feel more comfortable with the entire online learning aspect and putting her in a better position going into the fall semester. 

Her only struggle now is to keep her students engaged in her discussion-driven English course. In order to do so, she requests students have their cameras on in order to associate a face to one’s name. It helps Ghan keep track as to who might look bored or seem clueless, as well keeping it from feeling awkward.

Michael Maxwell teaches a math course at Skyline and feels the same way.

“I feel more comfortable having the material ready and accessible,” Maxwell said. “I still find it hard to teach to a computer screen and not to live bodies and faces.”

And just like students, professors all have different setups in their homes in order to be the most productive they can be. 

Maxwell would have taught in Building 4 if not for the pandemic, but now he teaches his math course from the comfort of his own garage. 

“My setup is to use my MacBook Pro attached with an Ethernet Cable to my router, and an iPad attached to my MacBook so I can use my Apple Pencil with GoodNotes,” Maxwell said. “It’s all set up in my garage.”

Ghan didn’t have an actual office space while at Skyline, but now has all the necessary supplies as well as her own little office setup in order to be the most productive she can be. 

The new normal for us students now involves being in front of our computers, and it’s the exact same for our instructors. It’s going to come with obstacles on both ends, but we all for sure feel a lot more comfortable and ready for what’s ahead.