UM professor adjusts to new world of online teaching

Kevin Greer

The early morning class wake-up has been altered profoundly this semester.  For many, the shower, wardrobe and typical morning routine have been replaced by rolling over in bed just in time to open their laptop for class.

While life is good for students at home with a muted mic, University of Miami professors are adjusting to a new world of delivering material.

Of the 2,078 faculty members teaching courses, 552 instruct at least one of them online according to UM Communications.

“I had a couple screaming matches with Blackboard when it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do,” said School of Communication professor Sam Terilli. “Part of it is getting comfortable.”

Terilli is teaching courses remotely from his Miami-Dade home. Despite early struggles to adjust to this new normal, Terilli said online learning can be beneficial to students. Many professors have made recordings of past lectures available and keep tests open 24 hours after assigned.

“Some students have access to material they never would have had, and they’ll be able to work at their own pace,” Terilli said. “For the student who’s motivated, it may well be advantageous.”

The sudden change to online learning has also provided the ability to test the effectiveness of the practice for permanent implementation.

Terilli said in certain courses a permanent switch to online instruction may be effective. He emphasized courses he referred to as “digital classes,” such as web design or data visualization in which students use online resources within their classrooms.

“There are some courses that we’re watching very carefully because they may well be appropriate to leave in the remote, online function, said Terilli, who chairs the Journalism and Media Management Department.  “I’m looking at some of these courses right now, and I’m close to concluding that some of these ought to be online.”

UM has offered online classes since March and will continue to at least through the end of the semester.

“It will be a different education,” Terilli said, “but it will be a good one nonetheless.”