How Bakersfield College professors are dealing with online learning

Teresa Balmori Perez, Reporter

The professors at Bakersfield College express their challenges and thoughts regarding the transition of online learning during the pandemic.

John Gerhold, a music professor at BC, expressed his feelings during the early transitions of online learning. “I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to teach as well and embarrassed that I wasn’t very good with technology,” Gerhold stated. “But I found that if I was upfront with students about my concerns about myself, that they were very patient.”

Mark Staller, a communication professor at BC, also shared that he was very overwhelmed with the thought of having to teach online and not being able to see his students face to face. 

Gerhold and Staller have also faced some challenges of teaching online. According to Gerhold, “ One is the technology itself. I was entirely new to online teaching and had to learn everything as on the job training.” He also explained that he had trouble testing students online because he was afraid that students would take advantage of the internet. 

As for Staller, he stated that “One challenge of online teaching is motivating and inspiring my students to fully engage in the Zoom sessions.” Staller explained that since he is a communication professor, he tries to make his students turn on their cameras and microphones so that they can practice nonverbal and verbal communication skills. 

They also miss teaching in a physical environment. “I miss my students. I miss my colleagues,” Gerhold said. “I miss hearing students sing and play instruments. Some disciplines may be better suited to online learning, but the music just doesn’t work right this way.” 

According to Staller, he misses being able to create small group activities. “Although you can use break-out rooms, students cannot observe how other small groups are interacting,” Staller said. 

Despite the challenges, Gerhold and Staller have both managed to adapt online. Gerhold explained that he has gotten better with it over time but he still has trouble with technology issues. Staller also gave his thoughts on the matter by stating “I actually feel competent with online instruction, and I am looking forward to continuing to teach a few classes online even when we return to face-to-face instruction.” 

Gerhold and Staller are both concerned with the possibility of returning to in-person classes during the fall. According to Gerhold, he is concerned about his safety and the safety of others. However, he hopes that by then he and many of his students will be vaccinated. Staller explained that he is also worried. The reason for this is because all of his students will be cramped in a small classroom and it will make it very hard for them to socially distance themselves.