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Rethinking the “failures” of online classes
The presenter taught online classes through Zoom with class sizes of 40 (General English for university first-year students, and Oral English for university second-year students). Students very rarely turned on their cameras in class, a story that this presenter has heard often from many teachers. Aside from some limited success with Zoom polls and text answers in Zoom chat, student participation was difficult to elicit. The presenter felt that the classes were not going very well, and considered the classes to be far below the quality of in-person classes. However, students’ own written responses in Japanese on anonymous, university-wide class evaluation surveys at mid- and end-of-term paint a surprisingly different picture of their experiences in the presenter’s classes. The presenter will share summaries of what the students valued in these online classes, and how the students’ descriptions of some of the class activities contradict the presenters’ own negative self-evaluation of the same activities, forcing the presenter to view the success embedded into what was self-evaluated as mediocre if not an outright failure.
Bill Pellowe is an Associate Professor at Kindai University's campus in Fukuoka Prefecture, where he has been teaching since 2000. He came to Japan in 1990 at the age of 23 after spending a year teaching English to students studying abroad in Boston, MA. In the decade before Kindai, he taught at Eikaiwa schools, a Senmon Gakko, and part-time at universities. He is currently JALT's Director of Public Relations.