by Yixuan Zang, Chinese Social Media Intern
Due to the Covid 19 epidemic, the University of Pittsburgh’s fall 2020 term has undergone many adjustments to help keep the entire Pitt community safe and healthy. The Flex@Pitt concept allows for in-person, remote, synchronous and asynchronous approaches to courses that will build on the innovative ways that instructors have already adapted to the ever-changing learning environment this year. Meanwhile, instructors post the latest news related to the subject via Canvas. Students can also use Canvas to complete discussions and interact with other students or instructors. These changes and innovations in teaching methods provide a better interactive platform for students and instructors.
First of all, we got some thoughts on teaching online from Pitt faculty:
Bliss Hou (Chinese Language Instructor): Compared with traditional face-to-face instruction, remote language courses limit the interaction between teachers and students, and the overall difficulty for beginners has increased. In addition, the uncontrollable factors of the Internet and technology occasionally cause interruptions or delays during the class. However, it is worthwhile to be happy that my lovely students and I are reaching a tacit understanding, and we will have more patience for each other.
James (History Professor): I much prefer face-to-face classes because it builds a true humane spirit between students and professor. For professors, converting a class to online instruction is very challenging. Also, we cannot have large group discussions. Nonetheless I think the University has done a good job in the design and function of the Flex@Pitt platform. It protects the entire Pitt community.
Then, let’s take a look at some Chinese international students’ feelings and thoughts on the fall online courses this semester:
Liang (undergraduate student): I am in the U.S. right now. The online courses make me feel very fulfilled. I spend more time asking questions and making conversations in professor’s office hours. However, I need more time to study after classes. In this situation, I feel more stressful to study than before. Besides, the study time becomes tenser, causing me to lose part of my entertainment time.
Ge (undergraduate student): Although the efficiency of class discussion, the choice of class activities, and the form of homework have been affected, online courses are currently the most stable and reliable way to ensure the health and education of our students. This new teaching method is absolutely necessary to continue under the current epidemic situation.
Zang (graduate student): Compared with the online courses, I prefer the in-person class more. I feel we have less communication and talk with each other less than before. Besides, the internet problem also affects the learning quality. However, in order to fix this problem, we add more group meeting via zoom to improve the learning after class.
Li (graduate student): I feel the online course are a better fit for me. First of all, I feel safer and more comfortable to study at my home. Secondly, I can watch the recorded video of classes whenever I have any questions about the courses. I feel there’s no difference between the in-person and online courses because of the function of “sharing screen” and “group discussion separation”. Besides, the discussion board could provide more opportunities for me to communicate and share ideas with other students.