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Titan Voices

Online Teaching, Balance and Breakfast Cereal

Posted on: April 01, 2020 in Faculty Stories by Michael Mahi

Jon and Freddi-Jo Bruschke have their hands full these days.

While they teach classes via Zoom from either their living room, a spare bedroom or the patio, their daughter is taking an online dance class and their son is receiving online calculus tutoring.

“If our internet goes out, we are doomed,” says Jon, chair and professor of human communications studies, during a stroll with his wife on the nearly empty Cal State Fullerton campus.

Jon Bruschke's blue painted nails
Professor Jon Bruschke shows off his freshly painted nails, the handiwork of his 12-year-old daughter Andromeda, who has been finding innovative ways to occupy her newfound time at home.

“What we’re doing today is just trying to get out and away from the Zoom thing, to get space from everyone being in the same 1,600 square feet, 24 hours a day,” he says. 

The Bruschkes are among more than 2,000 full- and part-time faculty who have made the switch from traditional classrooms to online environments in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Freddi-Jo, a lecturer in geological sciences, is teaching four classes this semester and they are all labs.

“It’s been pretty bumpy for me, so nothing I was going to do is transferable,” she says. “I’m trying to come up with new things on the fly.”

One of the strategies for online teaching is asynchronous learning.

“Do you know what that means?” she asks. “Many of the students didn’t know what that meant either.”

Freddi-Jo explains that she doesn’t require students to be online at a specific time. She records the lessons, and students can watch them when they are available. 

“When they’re able to get to the internet or get access, they can do the work at that point,” she says. She also offers opportunities for students to meet online in case they have questions or need help.

As a department chair, Jon says his focus is on its 82 faculty members and their needs. He says the transition has been seamless for those who have extensive online experience, while other professors have never taught online.

Jon Bruschke
Jon Bruschke

Jon is teaching a legal argumentation class this semester. He says his last mock trial was reflective of the challenges of learning online, having to balance outside work and family life.

“The students did great,” he says. “But the opening argument of the student presenting the defense was delivered with a 1-year-old eating Fruit Loops on the lap of the speaker.”

What did Freddi-Jo think of that teaching moment?

“It was adorable,” she says.

Cal State Fullerton is looking for stories from our campus community about being a witness to history. Contact Senior Director of Digital Media Michael Mahi at mimahi@fullerton.edu.

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    Michael Mahi

    Michael Mahi is the Senior Director of Digital Media.

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