Les Rose: What I've learned while teaching online

March 26, 2020

Les Rose, professor of practice in broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ), shares some of the things he has learned during the first few days of remote instruction. Rose, who joined the Newhouse faculty in 2016, spent 22 years with CBS National News Network as a photojournalist and field producer. This semester, he is teaching Multimedia Storytelling (COM 117), Television and Digital News Reporting (BDJ 464) and Master Storytelling (BDJ 500) with BDJ adjunct Bob Dotson.

I got my master’s degree online, so I know that a student works just as hard online as they would in person. It’s just that the online student gets to wear pajama pants, and you cannot sit in the far back row, getting away with something.

During these first few days of online teaching I have learned:

  1. Students seem to have a lot of dogs.
  2. It's great when you can see everybody on one page of a large class and then realize a few minutes later: there's a second page. D’oh!
  3. Instructional Assistants (IAs) are the greatest human beings on earth. They’re really smart, they make things happen… and they can spot a student doing her nails when you thought she was "taking notes."
  4. This is a wonderful way to teach lighting. YES to windows lighting your face and NO to sitting right in front of windows—that is, unless you are in witness protection.
  5. The mute button can be a triumph of reducing background noise or make you look like you have profound laryngitis.
  6. Students show up early and seem to be very comfy. Apparently, the new fashion trend for quarantining is your choice of the "AM" sweatshirt" and the "PM" sweatshirt.
  7. Students have no choice but to do stories about their parents or siblings. But apparently little sisters aren't having it.
  8. Students eat a lot of home cooking. Thus the new phrase "Quarantine Fifteen."
  9. Video shown on Zoom can be clunky at best, so send your student's work in advance.
  10. The quiet students... well, are still quiet. But they’re some of my very best writers.
  11. The record button is your friend and the student's, too. You can always go back and attend that four-hour lecture, AGAIN!
  12. These are Newhouse students: brilliant, articulate, funny and caring, and they like to sit in front of windows for unplanned silhouettes. Did I mention that already?
  13. The time zone difference can be awful for our West Coast, international and Hawaiian students. I think the ratio is five cups of coffee per one-hour of lecture—otherwise, students do a keyboard face plant.

Bottom line: they are learning a lot, but I miss them and my colleagues profoundly.

BDJ 500
BDJ 500, taught online by Les Rose and Bob Dotson