Fine art and lab classes continue to connect online

With the decision to move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, certain classes have had to develop creative strategies to educate students online. In particular, music, theater and lab professors have
had to overcome some unique obstacles to translate their curriculums remotely.

In the science departments, lab courses are moving toward online instructional videos teaching students how to gather and utilize data.
Professors within various science departments are using YouTube and homemade videos in conjunction with PowerPoint presentations to develop new methods of “hands-on” educational experiences.

Chemistry professor Mary Stroud explained her modified lab format in this new academic era. “I guide them through the procedure, they go to this video, look at how this procedure would have been done,” Stroud said. “I later tell them what the value would be and they do the calculations as if they had done the calculations themselves — it’s as close as we can get.”

Chemistry Department Chair Richard Mullins noted that the department’s labs were trying to remain as uniform as possible, despite disparities in online education experience.

“We’ve tried to standardize (the learning experience) across the sections mainly because we don’t want to give different students different experiences,” Mullins said of the many General Chemistry Lab sections the department runs. “The hands-on experience of using an instrument… there’s really nothing that can replicate that in a remote (lab),” Mullins said.

Senior music major Maria Skill noted that virtual classrooms allow her to interact with fellow students. Choir classes are utilizing Canvas discussion boards so students can articulate their musical interpretations. Certain music classes will still incorporate performative elements into their learning. Symphonic Wind Ensemble will be recording music separately for a group assignment, as well as reflecting on and responding to other musical pieces. Other music performance classes will be focusing more heavily on music theory and history for the rest of the year.

Similar to music classes, theater classes will retain performative elements for the remainder of the year. First-year theater performance and Philosophy, Politics and the Public double major Annaleese Cahill
explained that in vocal classes, students will be sent prerecorded audio tracks and warmups that they can then sing along to through Zoom.

In her auditions class, Cahill will be self-recording and uploading videos of monologues and songs. The class will culminate with a series of online video auditions. The class will also hold conferences with directors and playwrights from across the country, allowing the students to speak with industry professionals who intended to visit their classroom before the campus shutdown.

Stroud worried that the rigor of her courses could not be maintained during remote learning, but took solace in knowing the struggle was a collective experience of the Xavier academic community.

“We’re doing the best that we can and it won’t be the same,” Stroud said. “But we’re doing the best that we can under these circumstances.”