The Download: Feature Articles
NYU Student and Faculty Remote Voices: Apart but Together
By Jayson Miller, Jen Sloan, and Nicolas LeBrun | Spring, 2020
The "NYU Remote Voices" video series explores the creative ways members of the NYU community are using technology to adapt and thrive while teaching and learning remotely.
Kathryn Posin, Professor of World Dance and Choreography at NYU Gallatin
"I think we have to," says Kathryn Posin, Professor of World Dance and Choreography at NYU Gallatin, "in this stressful but challenging new digital time...go to the human being." Posin visited the Digital Studio the week before spring break, 2020, to acquaint herself with NYU Zoom and explore how the technology could be used in a course that requires full-body physical movement.
"I started...making people in the Digital Studio stand in different parts of it, and do dances and stuff."
Professor Posin discovered that gallery or speaker view worked best for her course.
"I'd let the students share their screen," she explained. "I told them to find a hall where you can back up. Each student had twenty minutes, showed cheer leading, showed sexy commercial jazz in front of a refrigerator, flamenco in her mother's office, belly dance in her house in Dubai, tango in his dorm."
To make her students feel more comfortable, both with Zoom and with the overall situation of learning from home, Posin asked them to concentrate on things that made them feel happy.
"I think my message is go to the human body," she summarizes. "Go to the human being. This is an opportunity for growth."
Marilyn Horowitz, Professor of Screenwriting, NYU School of Professional Studies
For Marilyn Horowitz, Professor of Screenwriting, NYU School of Professional Studies, both the effectiveness of her online course and the well-being of her students leans into keeping a sense of humor.
"Humor is a way of healing our underlying fundamental anxiety," she explains. "Laughter is the most healing thing and that's how we're gonna get through all of this."
Professor Horowitz found transitioning her accelerated screenwriting course to Zoom was relatively smooth, and the new environment introduced unexpected benefits.
"I think that one of the really wonderful things about the Zoom classes [is] there is a kind of intimacy that I was surprised about. There's a lack of distraction, and a focus in the Zoom classes that is quite a unique feature."
That intimacy, even when the class is at a distance, helps Horowitz and her students not only thrive in their new environment, but also maintain that positive attitude so helpful in managing a difficult situation.
"Laughter is the most healing thing. People need to be able to laugh because it's a defense mechanism and a release. Otherwise it's too scary and too overwhelming. ...I mean this is a time when we really need laughs."
Jing Chai, Professor od Intermediate and Advanced Chinese, NYU Shanghai
Professor Jing Chai teaches intermediate and advanced Chinese at NYU Shanghai. In this video, she discusses how teaching online has expanded the ways students have been able to learn languages online, as well as how it has led to increased collaboration and performance.
Jing Chai used the transition to NYU Zoom as a way to explore alternative ways of engaging with students and how too use Zoom features such as Breakout Rooms to maintain engagement despite the physical distance between everyone. She explains: “We started to think of some ways to make the Zoom sessions fun, but also educational. Zoom is a broad platform that allowed us to do many more things than just in the classroom setting.”
As she was exploring new ways to engage as an instructor, NYU Zoom also opened new ways for her students to express themselves and approach their coursework from different angles.
“Students are making their own videos, and they seem to love these kind of interactions. One student even used Garage Band to do a little song. They not only enjoy the classes, but they also start to look forward to the language classes online.”
While acknowledging the challenges of remote and blended courses, overall Jing Chai used it as a way to have fun and rethink the relationship between students, professors, and learning.
“We are distant from each other physically, but we are closer together than ever. It’s like the collaborative work has peaked this semester!”
In the video, NYU students Zoom in from New York, California, Texas, and New Delhi to discuss what online learning and taking courses remotely has been like for them.