4/21/2020 Alicia Morrissey

F&M Senior Vlogs About Her Distance Learning Experience

Katie Coble ’20, a history and classical society joint major, decided to vlog her senior year as a way to look back on her time at F&M. From the best books she read in 2019 to what’s in her college backpack, Coble’s vlog documents her memories of her F&M senior year—but she never expected a pandemic to be part of them. 

“It’s interesting to have [this vlog] now, so I can look back at how COVID-19 affected my senior year,” she said.

One of Coble’s videos covers her first distance learning week at F&M. She had never taken a distance learning class before, but is now in four, three of which are Zoom experiences meeting at a specific time.

“I’m in a lot of smaller seminars, which work well with Zoom,” she said. “There are some technical difficulties, but the class is so small that we’re able to continue the discussion as we normally would in the classroom.”

  • Katie Coble '20 Katie Coble '20
  • Katie Coble '20 in her distance-learning space in off-campus housing Katie Coble '20 in her distance-learning space in off-campus housing

She noted her larger discussion-based classes have been a bit more challenging with Zoom.

“It’s hard to maintain a discussion with 20 people when you can't read each other’s body language,” she said. “We all still accidentally talk over each other.”

Coble described her fourth class as asynchronous, explaining that each week her professor sends out a PowerPoint presentation with audio of the lecture embedded in the slides. This format allows students to complete the class and assignments independently rather than having to join Zoom at a specified time. While that format is helpful for students who are in different time zones, Coble said she misses the discussion aspect that usually accompanies that class.

As for her professors, Coble noted they’re doing everything possible to ensure they’re available during this uncertain time. 

“All of my professors are holding some sort of virtual office hours,” she said. She also noted a few of her professors have joined Zoom sessions a half hour early and stayed a half hour late in case students need to ask questions or require additional help with lessons and subjects covered in the virtual classes.

After graduating from F&M, Coble plans to join Teach For America (TFA) in Nashville, where she will teach secondary history, although the timeline of that new adventure has been affected by COVID-19 as well. She’s still in the hiring process with schools in need of TFA placements and was supposed to move to Tennessee a few days after graduation for training, but now training is online only for the summer, so she probably won’t move until July.

“I’m really excited for it and it just means I get more time with my family in Virginia before I move down there,” she said.

Until then, Coble has been staying in Lancaster in off-campus housing, enjoying what she has left of her (virtual) senior year. Tune in to her vlog to follow her adventures!

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