How the semester is shaping up for graphic information technology faculty and students

It has been about a month since the start of the Fall 2020 semester. Faculty and students all had expectations for this semester, whether it be the first or last or somewhere in between. Here in the graphic information technology program, those expectations are nothing short of being met. The program is already taught entirely online and on campus classes often have an iCourse offering, so this isn’t completely grey water. 

Technology has either been a best friend or worst enemy.

“Introducing a new format is expected to be clumsy at first,” reports an anonymous faculty member. We had half a semester to warm up to Sync, and to experiment with conducting classes on Zoom. But none of us were prepared for the hybrid classrooms and the challenge of running an In-Person/Sync combination class. It’s a nightmare. Technological problems slow down the flow of every meeting session. Students have connection issues and attention lapses.” 

Thankfully, tech support has been amazing with checking in on in-person classes daily and is always there to answer calls or questions to sync classes. It is tough though, especially after  years of experience and all of a sudden everything gets flipped upside down. 

“I think the hardest transition has been not being able to see and interact with the students in class,” says Laurie Ralston, a senior lecturer of graphic information technology.

Working in the photo studio is another aspect that students look forward to with GIT 384 and GIT 490, but now that experience of collaborating and being in the studio together doesn’t get to fully happen.

“The photo studio is challenging, says Penny Dolin, an associate professor of practice of graphic information technology, founder of the GIT Commercial Photography Studio at the Polytechnic campus, and director of the Technical Imaging Lab. “Only a few in at a time so no real team work. I really miss the energy in the studio when there are more students helping each other. Hard to be emotive masked up and wearing a face shield. I look forward to post-pandemic classes. However, challenging as it is, we are making it work and the students are getting real value from their time in the studio. And, they are actually enjoying the Zoom lectures- more comfortable and they can have snacks.”

However, some are thriving with this new way.

“I actually prefer how classes are going now to how they were in past semesters. I’m able to use my beefy computer and dual monitor setup rather than getting by with a laptop when doing school work,” says student Jacob Prochut.

Pajama day is everyday! Sip coffee in bed and comfortably attend class.

“I get up about five minutes before class in my PJs so I feel much more comfortable when doing creative work,” Prochut says. 

Making connections has reached a new level of difficulty for some, it is really hard to make friends and establish yourself with a box on your screen.

“Humans are social creatures, so it is a downside to not be physically present with my peers. However, the video contact is enough to make me feel socially satisfied. It’s personal enough that it doesn’t feel like an online class which is usually limited to a discussion board and essays,” Prochut says.

A way to get more connected is to  join clubs, AIGA Poly and The ASU Poly Photo Club. AIGA is a national organization and ASU has a student group at Polytechnic (and Tempe). At the ASU Poly Photo Club, students have the chance to meet and collaborate with other photographers on campus. 

There are pros and cons to everything, hopefully the positives overcome the negatives in the end.

“The lecture format is old, but well established. It’s how Aristotle learned from Plato,” says an anonymous faculty member. “Online is relatively new, but tested enough that we see the strengths and weaknesses. Sync is new for all of us. It’s not the same as the classroom by any means, but it introduces new possibilities. The trouble is attempting to make hybrids [teaching to in-person and online groups at the same time] — that seems to reveal new cracks, without offering any advantages.”

“I love teaching Synchronously and entirely online! I have experienced better engagement with my students and less stress for me,” says Christina Carrasquilla, a senior lecturer of graphic information technology.

Here’s to a great (and unexpected) semester!

Article contributed by graphic information technology student Kayla Arbelius.