NMU professors make online accommodations

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Jesse Wiederhold/NW

Jesse Wiederhold

Students have been through a lot this year whether that came from work, relationships, or changing school environments. In the wake of emerging protocols on social distancing and safety precautions, some NMU professors are opting to move classes online. This may worry some students, particularly the incoming freshman who haven’t experienced college environments before. Despite these difficulties, NMU has instructors willing to go the extra mile to keep up with excellent education.

“I’ve been teaching for 30 years, and I’ve done online, face-to-face, and hybrid. I’m very comfortable, and know I can make sure that students have the same learning outcome in an online environment that they would face-to-face,” English professor Wendy Farkas Ph.D. said.

“This is not the winter semester where everything came crashing down and we had to move so quickly,” Farkas said. “I knew that I was going to be teaching online for months now and could wrap my head around how I could do that.”

Farkas and others made the decision to go online because of health concerns.

“I would prefer face-to-face or hybrid, but because of the pandemic I’m erring on the side of safety,” Farkas said. “I have underlying health conditions that make me really scared to teach face-to-face right now. I just don’t want to take the risk.”

The biggest challenge converting courses to online for many has been securing a reliable internet connection, Farkas said.

“I live ten miles south of Ishpeming. Ironically though, I am three miles from an NMU tower. I can get [their] broadband out here,” she said.

With online materials, internet connections become very important. For those interested in acquiring NMU’s EAN (Educational Access Network), check out https://nmu.edu/lte.

Farkas is quite excited to see students this fall, even online.

“I miss people, so I am very excited… I will be engaging with [them] and talking about books and non-fiction texts and hearing their ideas,” Farkas said. “I care, know that I am empathetic. All of us are dealing with things we never even thought we had to deal with in our lifetime. So, I can definitely empathize with students.” 

There is something else important about changing classes online. Farkas explained the importance of paying attention to syllabi and other instructions from professors online.

“You don’t have a professor right there doing multiple reminders, writing things on the board, and telling them face-to-face,” Farkas said.

Some NMU students have no issue with their classes being online. In fact, some even prefer it.

“Most of my professors, especially the professors in my department are very concerned about the virus and don’t feel comfortable having in-class sessions,” Phillips said. “I personally think classes should be online because it seems too early to open areas that can house large groups of people.”