Editor’s note: Today is the second day of the public health order requiring citizens of Contra Costa County and five other local municipalities to shelter in place. “The new normal” is a continuing series that looks into how members of the Los Medanos College community are coping with that order amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the shelter in place order continues in six Bay Area counties, and the district transitions to online classes, students and staff of Los Medanos College are adjusting to a new normal.
As a member of the Math Department, Julio Guerrero-Gonzalez teaches multiple courses of math and helps in the math lab. Now that LMC professors are forced to teach remotely, he has had a few days to adjust to the transition.
“First of all, I knew it would be difficult,” said Gonzalez during a Zoom interview. “What made it a lot worse was, how am I going to transition everything online in a week’s time?”
As a professor who thrives with the face-to-face aspect of teaching, Gonzalez has taken multiple steps to ensure that his personality-driven style of teaching would come across over the internet.
Students found that out when entering the Zoom conference call to begin class.
“I have a couple of Star Trek backgrounds, and a few Star Wars backgrounds that I plan on using. I like to have fun with my students,” said Gonzalez.
As far as how the online lectures would go, Gonzalez had a few concerns.
“My biggest concern was the group-work component of the classes,” said Gonzalez. “I want students to be actively discussing to help learn from each other.”
Worrying about the lack of group-work options, Gonzalez found that Zoom has a “Breakout Rooms” feature that has helped with managing group-work online.
According to Zoom’s website, “Breakout Rooms allow you to split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate sessions. The meeting host can choose to split the participants of the meeting into these separate sessions automatically or manually, and can switch between sessions at any time.”
In regards to student reception, Gonzalez had good things to say.
“The reception has been good so far. The classes aren’t as full as they would be in person but I’m happy with the turnout I’ve gotten,” said Gonzalez. “Students have done well to take turns answering and asking questions. Zoom has handled the traffic pretty well.”
Ana Misi, a student in Gonzalez’s statistics class, had this to say in an email of the first online lecture.
“It was hard for me to set up Zoom on my laptop because of connection issues. But once I did it was easy for me to understand his lecture just like in the classroom.”
As the district continues to deal with the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the new normal begins to set in for students and staff alike.