Written by Rachel MacAulay

Preparing a course to be offered online takes months of planning and development. However, this past spring the campus was shut down due to COVID-19 and classes needed to be moved online as soon as possible, leaving faculty and staff scrambling to find a way to support students while also being able to maintain a quality educational experience. Students in Professor Chris Demaske’s TCOM 486 Feature Writing class interviewed some of those faculty and staff to see how the transition went for them and what they learned through the entire process.

LeAnne Laux-Bachand, a senior lecturer at The University of Washington Tacoma, is new to the online teaching game. Laux-Bachand is one of the countless teachers around the globe right now who must adapt to changing technologies and policies due to the deadly spread of COVID-19. 

Laux-Bachand has been a teacher at UWT for seven years, but even so, she has not taught online before. However, she said that the online aspect is not a drawback. 

“The easiest part of the transition, teaching-wise, has been using Canvas since I’ve been doing that since graduate school,” Laux-Bachand said.

Although the technology increase does not phase Laux-Bachand, the stay-at-home order has not been without its struggles. 

The hardest part? 

“Not getting to know students face to face and not being able to help to create a classroom environment where they can learn from each other face-to-face,” Laux-Bachand said.

This pandemic has erased the ability to connect directly, a hallmark of the teacher-student relationship. Laux-Bachand, like many others at this moment, is treading unfamiliar water. 

The strange situation has brought on unexpected difficulties for many, including Laux-Bachand.

“I didn’t expect to have such difficulty getting in touch with a friend who is a UWT custodian. I still haven’t been able to determine if he is OK,” Laux-Bachand said.

This is a familiar feeling felt by many right now. The lack of direct exposure to people has revealed the tears in our social fabric. Zoom and FaceTime technologies can only go so far when it comes to substitute for human contact and you cannot “bump into” anyone there. 

Day-to-day interactions, which are not significantly reduced, make up much of our social contact and matter greatly to many, like Laux-Bachand. 

Not all is lost though. This pandemic has given many the opportunity to rise up and take control of this situation. Laux-Bachand pointed out one moment through the past two months that has made her proud of her UWT community.

“I’m glad that UWT’s Pantry is open and able to continue assisting those who need it. I’m also proud of the people making masks!”

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