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In the Midst of Crisis, COB Faculty Embrace Remote Teaching

Wednesday, April 15 2020 06:04pm

OHIO’s business faculty continue to engage students, even from a distance.

By Mishalaina Coles

When business schools across the country moved to remote instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many professors found themselves learning how to use different online platforms and finding ways to make their virtual class just as effective as in-person instruction. While faculty continue to navigate uncharted territory, OHIO business professors have found ways to make their online classes unique and are thriving in this new learning environment.

Jacob Hiler, Ph.D., for example, has found a way to incorporate a platform typically used for gaming. Professor Hiler, who currently teaches the consumer research and analytics capstone classes, is using the online application Discord for his class. Through Discord, Hiler is able to set up virtual rooms that allow for group collaboration, teamwork, and discussions about courses, projects and client presentations. Outside of classroom work, Hiler is also hosting a student game night through the platform. To make his class videos a little more interesting, he has been producing videos that are like TV shows. And, as the director of the Center for Consumer Research and Analytics, Hiler is looking into ways he can use the platform for the center as well.

Hiler’s not alone in his unique approach. Professors throughout the COB have incorporated other platforms into their online learning courses. For example:

  • Colin Gabler, Ph.D., is using Netflix Party for his sustainability marketing class.
  • Andrew Pueschel, Ph.D., is using GroupMe as an informal tool to touch base with his students and to provide support, poll students about work being done, etc.
  • Jason Stoner, Ph.D., is sharing his lectures with students on YouTube.
  • Annie Valeant, MBA '07, MSA ’08 is using Microsoft Teams to host guest speakers (alumni and industry leaders) each day for sport management students.

The college’s faculty are even introducing students to new technology. “I had never even heard of Netflix Party,” said Meg Christenson, a marketing and sports management double major in Professor Gabler’s sustainability marketing class. The application allows people to come together, watch movies, and chat at the same time.

Gabler uses the platform to allow his students to watch documentaries related to class concepts. As the host, he’s able to control the viewing screen by pausing the videos and go into discussion through the chat mode. The chat feature on Netflix Party allows students to ask each other questions and talk through their thoughts about the documentaries. In addition to Netflix Party, Gabler also took an extra effort to talk to his students about which ways they’d prefer to communicate; a majority favored the popular messaging app GroupMe.

Remote Gabler Netflix Party

GroupMe has recently grown in popularity on campuses across the country. Andrew Pueschel, an assistant professor of instruction, also uses GroupMe. It allows him to create polls and collect student feedback about course content and assignments. GroupMe also allows Pueschel to stay in contact with his students in a way that is familiar to them. “I think it’s important that we meet students where they are,” said Pueschel. “Asynchronous learning and communication provides the kind of flexibility that everyone needs right now.”

Another important theme during the transition to online classes has been timely communication. Christenson admitted that the transition was a bit anxiety-ridden. She said that “having all of the structure and in-person engagement stripped away in just a week was very frustrating” for her. It was the increased open communication she received from some of her professors, however, that helped her ease her concerns and worries.

Communication has been especially important for Associate Professor Jason Stoner. Although the management professor enjoyed giving lectures and having discussions in person, he quickly realized that some of his students “might appreciate a familiar face doing something similar to [their] pre-spring break life.” While migrating to a virtual format, he had to become familiar with several online platforms including YouTube. (A screen grab from his "Conflict Jackie&Barry 2020" video is included below.) Stoner has begun to use the well-known video website to give the students the feel of an in-person discussion in hope that his adapted mode of communication would provide additional clarity for viewers.

Remote Jason Stoner

Faculty in the Department of Sports Administration are taking advantage of online platforms too. Each day, Associate Professor of Instruction Annie Valeant hosts a “Lunch and Learn” on Microsoft Teams. The program’s intent is to “instill positivity” for students and provide an opportunity to talk with and ask questions of Sports Administration alumni.

And while these digital platforms (and others) have existed for several years, OHIO’s business faculty are now using those platforms to deliver a unique experience during online learning. Their hope is that the experience will provide valuable talking points when students go to job interviews.

Students and faculty alike have commented how the transition to online learning has also built a community of people with a shared set of experiences that they’re unlikely to ever forget. “We all have a common need,” said Christenson. “That common need is a feeling of togetherness and walking out of this time into a stronger, more united community.”