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Universities are shuttering their doors in the time of COVID-19 and turning to online lessons.

Teaching in the Time of COVID-19: Alex Oliszewski

Associate professor of Media Design for Live Performance and Installation at The Ohio State University Department of Theatre and a frequent instructor and speaker at LDI, Alex Oliszewski shares his thoughts on the new paradigm of online teaching as universities are shuttering their doors in the time of COVID-19.

“Indeed, all face-to-face classes are canceled. We are expected to pick up the semester on Monday where we left off—but fully online. I have seen quite a few different approaches to moving forward.

I personally am lucky, in that, the classes I am teaching right now are already online. They are theatre classes that were relying on students going out and seeing theatre—and that’s not happening—so we have turned to recordings of performances. But I’m mainly adjusting work expectations, not actually shifting my entire class online like some of my colleagues.

At ACCAD (The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design), we have a particularly difficult situation in that we rely on high-powered lab computers and expensive pieces of equipment that cannot easily be replicated, modeled, or loaned outside of our facilities. We are still figuring this out. We had started turning to remote desktops; unfortunately, it requires a very robust infrastructure to support the large number of people that would potentially be using this solution, and OSU doesn’t currently have those resources available.

Alex Oliszewski.jpeg

Alex Oliszewski is an Associate professor of Media Design for Live Performance and Installation at The Ohio State University Department of Theatre.

We have started turning to Zoom as a large group meeting tool. It allows for us to share screens and for anyone on the call to draw and annotate what is on a screen, which makes it more interactive. Also it is set up to take phone calls from folks that don’t have access to a computer. The overall setup of a Zoom call is also very straightforward and easy to get people logged into by sharing a simple url with a 10 number code at the end.

It has been one of the nicer moments of my week to see everyone’s faces all at the same time in the mosaic/grid view of a Zoom call. Helped me feel a little normal.

In theatre, we have started building a tool and resource list that we are all editing and sharing to. I just had a quick look inside the folder, and here are a few things that popped out at me.

One that has caught my interest is:

Teaching Theatre Online: A Shift in Pedagogy Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak, originally created by Dr. Daphnie Sicre (, Loyola Marymount University.

Also this article:

“Suddenly trying to teach humanities courses online?” by Colleen Flaherty published on Inside Higher Ed.

Otherwise, me, myself, and I — I’m in my second day of at least a 14-day self-quarantine period, having just returned to Ohio from Colorado. I’m feeling good physically but struggling emotionally. Haven’t had this many panic attacks in a single day since my divorce. That said, tonight has been a good night. I was able to escape into Netflix for a few hours with my partner, Amy. I was also able to FaceTime with my daughter and play some Minecraft with her, and we laughed and built emerald castles together. 

I’m finding that focusing on work and being productive and helpful to those around me has gone a long way to raising my spirits.

Indeed, Mr. Roger’s had it right: Look for the helpers…I’ve found this inspires me also to be one of those helpers. I’m looking for those opportunities to support my neighbors, acquaintances, and friends.”

TAGS: Theatre
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