Professors, Students Connect through Online Class Sessions

January 14, 2021

This week, with the Winter semester underway, Emmanuel instructors are using online class sessions to enhance the student learning experience.

The sessions are the distinctive feature of the newly designed Distance Education Plus (DE+), which is a modification of the College’s longstanding independent-learning format, Distance Education. The purpose of DE+ is to offer students more interaction with each other and with their professors, making the education more relational and community-focused.

One of the first to host an online session was Dr. Murray Baker, an experienced professor who this semester is teaching Bible Study Skills. He considers DE+ to be a “really positive development” and appears pleased with how the session went. “The best part was meeting the students and getting to know them a little,” he says. He also notes that having students learn together gives them more motivation to be diligent in their studies.

Kimberly Whyte, an associate professor and director of the Counselling and Human Services programs, also hosted an initial live session this week. She has chosen to orient the sessions toward discussion and reflection. Her virtual classroom, she says, will be a “round-table type of place where students can bounce ideas off of each other and learn and grow together.” Karen Joseph has a similar plan for her class time: “Our live sessions will give us a chance to discuss important topics like ‘How does our current culture impact how we share Jesus with youth and young adults?’”

Student Julia Mills is among those who learned through DE+ online sessions this week. While the pandemic has required some major adjustments to her academic activities, she found last semester that the flexibility afforded by Distance Education could be very beneficial. Because she didn’t have weekly lectures, she could, if she wanted, focus on certain courses one week and others the next. With the new DE+ format, she is able to keep much of this flexibility, since sessions are not held every week, while also benefitting from the live experiences. “It’s really great to be able to connect virtually face to face with my profs and classmates again,” she says.

This is the final semester of Mills’s program, and she has been preparing for studies at the master’s level. Although the pandemic restrictions have been an inconvenience, she has been pleased with how staff and faculty have overcome obstacles to help her complete her applications. Having this support, she finds, makes “the hurdles seem less daunting.” And while she is excited to move on to the next stage of her academic journey, she notes, “There are a few profs that I wish I could take with me into my next program.”

While the faculty are certainly looking forward to the day when in-person classes are allowed once again, the present situation offers much to look forward to as the new year and new semester begin.