Passion and Motivation in Online Teaching

With the worldwide movement from in-person to online, one group of people, in particular, are lonelier than before. College professors and teachers at large have gone from shushing students to barely hearing their voices over a Zoom conference. 

Dr. Kyle William Bishop has recently finished his twentieth year as a professor at SUU of English literature, composition and film studies. Although his routine has remained mostly intact, he feels the pandemic has taken the unknown and spontaneity out of teaching. 

“I like to talk face-to-face with a group of students, using the whiteboard, looking at film clips, responding to comments and questions, often rather spontaneously… I am still sharing the information I would have before, but without the dynamism and energy and ‘happy accidents’ from a classroom setting,” Bishop said. 

According to Bishop, the problem with online teaching is not that students are learning less, they just aren’t learning with the same enthusiasm they would be normally. Because teachers are unable to express their passion in the classroom, students are losing motivation for learning entirely. 

“I think teachers who are good face to face are likely doing a pretty good job online, but some teachers are better one way than they are another, just as some students learn better one way or another. I think it is harder for most people to stay focused and on task when learning online and from home, and I think the classroom is generally a lot more fun for everyone,” Bishop said. 

From a student’s point of view, learning online has been frustrating for many. 

Morgan Branch, a senior social science education major, feels discouraged in the way most of her professors have been handling the shift. The major factor in her disappointment? Technology. 

“First thing’s first is that I have a lot of respect for teachers, seeing as that is the career field I am going into, but I have never been more disappointed with my education as I have been this year… I have had a hard time just because I have had little communication with my teachers… the technology barrier has been hard,” Branch said. 

While there are some professors like Bishop who pour their heart into the work they have dedicated themselves to, others might be losing drive right along with students.

One thing’s for sure: life is hard for everyone right now, not just for teachers and not just for students. 

The switch to online classes only works to its full extent when participating parties are willing and able to put in more effort than what meeting in person requires. During a time of confusion and uncertainty, trying to do that is not possible for everyone. 

“I worry that students will fall through the cracks because online learning requires a lot more proactive behavior on the part of students. Some will step up and do well, but others will just give up. I hope everyone can hang in there and finish strong!” Bishop concludes.


Story by: Amanda Walton
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