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Barry Professors: A Day in the Life of a Virtual Teacher

By Amanda Gonzalez Garcia

Virtual learning has required many adjustments to be made by students and professors alike.

Photo Credit to Ask Doctor K

While the student experience is often voiced, students very rarely get an insight to how their professors are coping with the realities of the new education system. Some professors at Barry shared with The Buccaneer how they are getting by during the pandemic.

At Barry, professors are concerned with maintaining student’s interest in their course material while teaching on virtual platforms.

For Dr. Laura Finley, professor in the department of sociology and criminology, this means additional preparation time for courses.

“I have had to learn more about the technologies needed to make classes successful and interesting and have to ensure all my material is uploaded on Canvas before classes,” said Dr. Finley, who wakes up at 9 a.m. daily to complete this preparation.

Photo Credit to Emma James

Dr. Fernando Perez of the same department prepares for classes in a similar manner to Dr. Finley, as he has extended resources for his classes through the Canvas site. However, Dr. Perez adds that preparations go beyond the length of class. 

“Once my day's lectures are finished, I begin numerous other tasks that faculty engage in, including: finalizing the next day's lectures, answering emails, taking care of student advising issues, handling departmental issues, as well as university committee work as I am a current member of the Faculty Senate and the University's Grade Appeal committee,” said Dr. Perez.

Dr. Perez also attempts to use his preparation time to figure out how to increase class involvement, which he says the use of the Canvas site has done for his classes. Students are now able to access course information at any time they may need it, which has led to students staying on top of the coursework like assignments and exams.

He also uses PowerPoint, videos, and other visual learning tools to engage students.

Dr. Finley does the same, taking it a step forward by dressing up in different costumes for each one of her classes. Dr. Finley has also seen an increase in participation, which she partially attributes to the Zoom chat box, which students can use if they prefer not to verbally speak up.

Despite all of their continuous preparation and the current success of their classes, however, both Dr. Finley and Dr. Perez believe that there may be issues as the semester continues. 

To combat these issues, Dr. Perez believes students and professors need to be flexible as the semester proceeds. This means being willing to adapt to circumstances as they change and constantly rethink our approaches to online learning. 

“In the end, I am confident we will all come out better, stronger, and smarter,” he said.

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