Swarthmore Professors Talk Pros and Cons of Remote Teaching

An empty classroom at Swarthmore College.
Image via the Swarthmore Phoenix.
An empty classroom at Swarthmore College, representing the remote learning of the past year.

There was a steep learning curve switching to remote learning, but each week it got easier, says Swarthmore College History Department Chairman Bob Weinberg.

“I hope to never do it again because that’s not what you’re paying $70,000 a year for at Swarthmore.”

Swarthmore’s campus is open for Fall 2021, with restrictions like face coverings indoors, limited student gatherings, and biweekly testing reports the Swarthmore Phoenix.

So how did remote learning work out last year?

“People are social creatures,” said sociology Professor Daniel Laurison. “I’m sure that we don’t perceive ourselves and each other in the same way when people are little boxes on a screen.”

Laurison taught two courses remotely from his basement office.

It was better than expected, with good discussions, but something was lacking, he said.

“There’s just a sort of energy that you get [in the classroom] that you miss on Zoom.”

There’s also limitations. Only one person can talk at a time. People are less involved.

Zoom did improve focus and paring things down to the essential.

If there is a return to remote learning, Laurison hopes a “take two” of Zoom learning looks different.

“We’d need to really rethink our class schedules and especially class sizes,” he said.

Read more at the Swarthmore Phoenix.


This video looks at remote learning at Swarthmore College from a student’s perspective.