SUBMISSION: Professors share their (anonymous) thoughts on online classes

By Dora Totoian | April 14, 2020 12:13pm
When asked to describe online classes in one word, these were professors' responses. The bigger the word, the more frequently it was mentioned. This image was created using

On Monday, April 6, The Beacon published some of the results of an anonymous Google form asking students to share their thoughts on online classes. In that article, we also invited professors and administrators to share their thoughts on online classes in a similar Google form. 

The Beacon asked: 

  • What do you want students to know about online classes? 

  • One word to describe online classes? 

  • Anything else you’d like to add? 

Far fewer professors and administrators (only seven) filled out this form than students who filled out the first Google form. There may be a number of reasons for this disparity. There are many more students than there are professors: 3,797 full-time and part-time undergraduates compared to 480 full-time and part-time faculty, along with administrators (some of whom are also faculty), according to Institutional Research

Professors and administrators also may not read Beacon articles as often in the same places students regularly do, such as social media. Finally, professors may have had greater concerns than students about anonymity. While the responses posted here are anonymous, UP emails were required on the form, and it was clearly stated at the top of the form that the form owners could read them, which may have deterred professors more than students. 

The responses of these seven professors show that they are also struggling, they miss being in the classroom and seeing their students, and they are doing their best to adjust to this strange new environment. 

The editorial board also knows that students, professors, administrators, staff, and other community members have many thoughts about online classes and the general situation of the entire world that won’t fit into a Google form. We and many of our readers would love to hear from you. Did you know that opinion submissions are often the most-read content on the site? Readers are genuinely curious to hear from other readers. To submit an opinion, visit our opinion submission page. The deadline to submit for this semester is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 16. 

Here are the professors’ responses. Similar to the submission about students’ thoughts on online classes, the responses are also anonymous, to allow people to be candid in a way they may not be with their names attached to their comments. We have indicated the school the professor teaches in to provide some context, similar to how we listed class years for the student responses: 

College of Arts and Sciences (CAS): This is difficult for professors, too, and many of us are trying our best to be flexible and accommodating.  However, we have been given pretty rigid rules to follow which has been terrible for us in wanting the freedom to be more lenient and creative in this dire situation. We really appreciate your understanding because these strict guidelines have come to us in over ten separate documents and have made us feel really stifled and hopeless. They are mostly focused on compliance over compassion. Speaking for myself, I completely understand how much privilege plays a role in how people are managing right now.  I know some of my students are consumed by stress, grieving, new jobs, scheduling changes, chaotic households, and terrible devices and internet access. Please also consider what we professors are going through and if perhaps those who are doing a better job might have fewer responsibilities at home. Submitted 4/7/20. 

CAS: My priority is, first, to stay connected to you; second, to make sure you're okay; and, third, to work with you on the material as best as we can in this new format. I don't want anyone's access to technology, time zone, family responsibilities, or other personal factors to mean you learn less than your peers. And they will NOT negatively affect your grade! Please know that adapting to online teaching in an emergency is very different from planning an online course from scratch. This is not what any of us signed up for, but I'm committed to doing my best for you! Submitted 4/7/20. 

CAS: I love seeing my students.  It's been a transition, to be sure, but I am committed to doing a good job for them. Thanks so much for publishing the student-generated word cloud. Submitted 4/8/20. 

CAS: I miss seeing you all in person so much! I can't see your eyebrows go up when you have a question, and my teaching is so very reliant on physical expression to convey something when we don't have the words -- being in an online world feels like teaching and learning in the dark sometimes. No one wanted this; we are clearly making do, but you're always on my mind, and I feel sad for the losses we are all facing. And I'm also grateful for having some good-enough technology to keep connecting as best we can. And as Queen Elizabeth said: "We will meet again." Reach out whenever you need something! We are here to help with coursework and to lend an ear if you need to vent a bit. And if you're struggling to stay motivated and to complete work, let us know about that too. Everyone wants to help. BTW getting up from my computer at least twice a day to take a walk or to look at the sky and the trees have been helping me a lot! Submitted 4/9/20. 

School of Business: We (faculty and students) should take advantage of the circumstance we are all in to develop online skills for the post-coronavirus world of business and education. Engage with your classmates when those online learning opportunities present themselves. Submitted 4/10/20. 

CAS: I want them to know how much I appreciate their active participation and their patience. As an instructor, I am trying things I never did before and my students follow and make the best of them. We are making it work together! Submitted 4/11/20. 

CAS: I want my students to know that none of this has been easy for me, either. Every day I have to find the energy to motivate myself and motivate them too. My responsibility has always been for them to learn something in my classes. Now, considering the circumstances, I also want to give them stability and continuity, even if that means having to record my lecture in the parking lot of a Starbucks because the internet in my house is down. Submitted 4/13/20. 

Dora Totoian is a reporter and the Opinion editor of The Beacon. She can be reached at