COVID-19 Shutdown in the History Department
Where in the world is Loyola University Chicago’s History Department?! Here, there, and everywhere as COVID-19 upended spring semester. Things have been a little quieter around campus. On March 10th, President Rooney ordered all in-person classes to be moved online. Not long after, campus was closed to all non-essential personal including administrative staff, faculty offices, and in-person library services. History faculty, staff, and students rallied to move into the world of remote learning.
In lieu of in-person sessions, classes were moved to the video conferencing platform Zoom. The switch to zoom has worked well for many, including Public history master’s student Miranda Ridener, who commented: “I did not feel as there was much adjusting. In one of my classes, I felt the teacher did not skip as many students because of the raise hand feature on zoom.” For other students, the transition required some more adjustment. Freshman Kat Rokusek described the situation as perplexing. “Taking classes from my bedroom has been a complete adjustment, I miss the in-person discussions, Zoom just doesn't quite do the trick.” But one aspect all students praised was the continued accessibility of the professors who have made students their priority. “My professors have been really accommodating and considerate of the present situation”, said senior Madeleine Lawler, “Nearly every professor I’m taking classes with this semester has expressed that we can reach out if we need anything.”
On the other end, faculty have been experiencing a rise in workload. Dr. Robert Bucholz said “My inbox is full. While this has added to my responsibilities it has, also, I think helped me to get through it so far.” But in addition to increased correspondence, the pandemic had required Dr. Bucholz to rework his classes to be successful online. “I got lucky, in my Western Civ. lectures already existed in electronic form thanks to the Teaching Company/Great Courses.” But lectures for his London Life and Culture 1550-1715 required lectures to be recorded and posted online. “This has proved to be much more time consuming than just walking into a classroom and delivering them: deprived of the spontaneous give-and-take of the classroom, online presentations have to be much more carefully scripted, the place of images and videos carefully choreographed,” said Dr. Bucholz.
Professor Michelle Nickerson explored in the impact of the COVD-19 impact on her teaching in a piece published by the History News Network. For her, student resilience was an important takeaway from the crisis. Click here to read her reflection.
TAs are also experiencing a variety of new challenges. United States Since 1865 TA Emily-Paige Taylor is adjusting to a lack of resources found in the TA office and quiet study lounge. While the absence of a printer can be remedied (upon adjustment) with online grading, it is difficult to separate her teaching, student, and personal lives without those spaces. But the absence of face-to-face time with students has proven difficult. “Something new I'm dealing with is mortal fear for my students,” says Emily-Paige. “I always worried about students if they didn't show up to class without warning, but now when I don't hear from one in a while it's terrifying.”
While times in the History Department have been challenging this spring, we find solace in the prospect of being together once again. As historians, we study the passage of events throughout time and one thing is clear: This too shall pass.