Faculty Spotlight: Professor Krayenbuhl on online education and summer pastimes

The Ledger got a chance to speak with Professor Pamela Krayenbuhl just before the beginning of the quarter. Discussing a variety of topics ranging from her academic past, teaching during the pandemic and what she has been up to over the summer, here’s a brief look at what she had to say. 

Professor Krayenbuhl studied at UC Berkeley, getting a dual BA in Rhetoric and Global Arts and Culture. She went on to Northwestern University to pursue her masters and doctorate degrees in Screen Cultures along with studying abroad in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and Luxembourg. 

When asked about her favorite part of teaching, Krayenbuhl said that it was the different talks outside of the classroom she had with other members of the universities. 

“By far the best part of my job was the unofficial chats with students and colleagues — between classes, during breaks, just running into people were when some of my most satisfying and renewing conversations happened,” Krayenbuhl said. “Now there’s no such thing as happenstance; all interactions must be scheduled and planned. As a result, I now feel more like a YouTube content producer than a professor. I’m constantly planning, recording, and editing videos, which is definitely not what I signed up for!”

Krayenbuhl spoke more on the dramatic change in teaching. 

“My teaching is also way less interactive and group-oriented now; there used to be a lot of small group work and options for bigger group projects, but now I really try to limit group work because it can be so difficult to coordinate online,” said Krayenbuhl. “In short, everything is streamlined to be simpler and more efficient, which probably pleases some of my students, but I miss the nuance and more engaging nature of my in-person courses.” 

The loss of in-person contact has made for a different learning environment, presenting its own problems. 

“The biggest change has been in complexity and depth. When we were face-to-face/in-person, I was usually able to help students tackle tough reading material together, and I facilitated some really interesting, thoughtful analysis and conversation,” Krayenbuhl explained. “There’s just no replicating that online, so to make things less overwhelming I’ve had to cut the reading in half for most of my courses.”

Apart from teaching during summer quarter, Krayenbuhl has spent most of her summer prepping for fall writing an article about tap dancers, “The Nicholas Brothers,” and thankfully was able muster some time for fun. 
“Like everyone, I tried to make some room for self care in there,” Krayenbuhl said. “I learned how to crochet, I got back into the lost art of burning mix CDs, and I rewatched Firefly. As one small means of trying to work through everything happening lately, I also purchased and read Zadie Smith’s “Intimations. Like many people, I’ve struggled to focus most of the time but Smith’s writing was the one thing that managed to hold my attention. I definitely recommend it.”