Due to the pandemic and for the safety of students and faculty, the UMSL School of Optometry began its online journey in March immediately following spring break. During this time, professors diligently worked to ensure that students continued to succeed in their courses by adapting to the challenges faced and by incorporating new ideas. In the new online environment, professors were presented with the challenges of interacting with students via discussion, teaching online for the first time, and converting in-class demonstrations into useful online presentations.
Out of these challenges arose collaboration and creativity. Lectures were pre-recorded, and to allow for interaction, weekly Zoom meetings were held to field questions between professors and students. To get these lectures up and running for those new to the online teaching experience, instructors worked with other faculty and participated in workshops in order to improve their knowledge of best practices for teaching online courses.
Converting demonstrations that were meant to be for in-person learning almost seemed impossible. Dr. Erin Brooks found new ways to incorporate PowerPoints and animations in order to create incredible demonstrations for learning the difficult subjects of physiology and pharmacology. These new integrations will carry over when in-person courses resume.
Students are very appreciative of all the effort professors put into shifting courses online and into creating great learning experiences during difficult times. Professors have had to learn and to adjust in order to adapt to online teaching. Many professors, like Dr. Tom Landgraf, “miss lecturing in the traditional sense,” and look forward to being back on campus and seeing students in person.
The future formatting of courses will forever be impacted by the changes and discoveries made during the pandemic. The UMSL faculty members have done an incredible job of being flexible, compassionate, and proactive throughout the last few months!