Posted on: September 25, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Deana Elhit, Features Editor

Since last spring, COVID-19 has caused the lockdown of most schools across the United States, including Moraine Valley Community College. The Glacier is presenting a series of stories to hear MVCC professors and students talk about the experiences and challenges they are facing while making the switch to digital learning.

Speech professor Krista Applequist misses the face-to-face interaction with students.

Getting used to sitting down and not moving physically — that has been the hardest for me. I’m used to running around in a classroom and seeing people.

Krista Applequist

Teaching public speaking when the public is on a screen

For Krista Applequist, learning how to teach courses like Speech Fundamentals through a screen has created a disconnect.

“I teach public speaking, so all of a sudden we don’t have that live connection anymore,” Appelquist said. 

When performing speeches online, new rules are applied. Notecards are no longer an option. You learn to stare at a webcam long enough to turn it into a person, and you finally learn how to be engaging, even if no one is there. 

Appelquist currently teaches five classes, each holding 26 students. Though teaching online has been different and challenging, she works to be creative and redesign her classes in new ways. She feels she is learning alongside her students and is growing to be a better teacher because of it.

Traditionally, her classes would require speaking to a full room of students. Now, all that has changed as speeches must be cut to fit shorter time limits and no live audience. Students record their speeches at home to be seen by anonymous students in the class. 

Appelquist teaches her students how to express their speeches in a different medium. They are learning to make videos that are inspired by viral speeches shared across media platforms. 

“I have to teach them that this is the presentation of you. So we really know how to adjust to your medium. No paper, make it work into the video… It’s all about having fun speeches,” she said.

Appelquist is new to using Canvas in depth. She had only used Canvas previously to post copies of assignments, grades and attendance.

She is also finding additional sources that can help her students within the online platforms. Students are using speech software where they upload their presentations and receive real live feedback and comments.

“I learned about WebEx, Zoom and how to do group assignments on Canvas,” she said. “I played with so many Canvas toys that I didn’t even know existed.” 

Appelquist learned about the importance of accessibility for students with disabilities. Closed captioning is available for the deaf and out-loud readers are available for the blind. She also explains that some students may not have good technology or wifi. Appelquist acknowledged she doesn’t have much control over these situations, but is reminded she needs to be aware of it. 

One challenge Appelquist has faced while working from home was not knowing her students as well as she would in person. Though she still feels connected with her online students through the virtual conferences and hearing their speeches, she misses face-to-face interactions.

“Getting used to sitting down and not moving physically — that has been the hardest for me. I’m used to running around in a classroom and seeing people,” she said.

Everything online needs to be monitored and turned into assignments for modules, which are then graded for points, she said, whereas when she was on campus, she could just walk around the classroom and ask her students questions. 

Appelquist believes there will be more online courses in the future at MVCC.  Before going digital, she had only seen herself as a face-to-face teacher, but she wouldn’t mind teaching online in the future now that she has the experience. 

“Not everything translates smoothly to an online medium, so you have to think of ways to use the medium in a good way, in a fun way, which might be different than class.”

MV student balances online courses with life as fashion model

As a fashion model who travels around the world, Khrystyna Khudytska is already aware of how online learning operates. Although this is the first time she has taken four classes at a time, she has only ever taken college classes online. 

Khudytska, 24, is a full-time sophomore at Moraine Valley, studying to get an associate’s degree in science, with a focus on nutrition and becoming a dietitian. Being able to study online at her own pace has been convenient for Khudytska, as her job often requires her to travel.

Managing being a fashion model and a student at the same time has required a lot of hard work. Khudytska would often find herself studying at work or on the go, inside cars, trains, and even airports. There wasn’t much time for relaxation between work and college. While modeling full time, Khudytska would take one class at a time.

Khudytska is a student of Krista Appelquist’s Speech Fundamentals class, which has given her a confidence boost in public speaking. 

She says the most beneficial part of taking speech online is being able to record her speech multiple times until she is satisfied with the result of the video. 

“I think it is a way to get better at a speech for students that are shy or unsure of their speaking to the audience,” Khudytska said. 

However, learning speech online can be difficult. Khudytska explains not having the ability to talk to Professor Appelquist for comments and correctness on real-time speeches can be a disadvantage. 

“I think it would be beneficial for all students to perform in front of the whole class no matter what major every student is achieving,” Khudytska said. 

She says her professors explain classwork well enough for her to understand everything and provide guidance for struggling students. 

Khudytska’s expectations for this semester will be challenging but she says she is mentally prepared and is determined to work towards getting her major. She believes online courses are manageable as long as students create a schedule for themselves for class and complete their work.

Since beginning online learning, Khudystska feels she has grown as a student. 

“I learned one important detail: You have to be on top of your class, know what’s happening, what to do and when. It teaches me a greater responsibility,” she said.

Though Khudytska hasn’t been to campus before, she feels certain classes are better explained in classrooms. However, she says, “Virtual class meetings are well structured; even harder classes can be achieved to learn online.

“I think it would be great to have more options online since there are many people that cannot attend school every day,” she said.

Khudytska says she is grateful for the college’s approach to online learning.

 “I like and appreciate that Moraine Valley teachers are professional and knowledgeable in the subject they teach,” she said. “I learned from the first class I took online that I must be responsible and committed to my class. I am thankful to MVCC for providing such a great online learning structure in a short period of time.”