COVID and career
Darla Moore School of Business professor Sanjay Ahire speaks of growth during pandemic times.
By Craig Brandhorst, email@example.com, 803-777-3085
This summer, Carolinian magazine reached out to a cross-section of alumni, faculty, staff and students to ask how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their work, and their workplace philosophies. This summer, Carolinian magazine reached out to a cross-section of alumni, faculty, staff and students to ask how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their work, and their workplace philosophies. Sanjay Ahire is a professor of operations and supply chain management at the Darla Moore School of Business. A classroom veteran, he was wary of online education but learned to adapt. “Regardless of technology advances, there’s no substitute for writing stuff on the whiteboard and the students writing that stuff along with your commentary into their notebooks,” he says. “But I realized the students were learning along with us professors as to how to do this remotely.”
Any professor will tell you there’s no substitute for the visceral energy communicated back and forth between students and the teacher when you’re face to face. When the pandemic hit, all of that went away as we were relegated to Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom. It was a big challenge for me personally because I had not done online teaching before. I didn’t believe in it.
Students are savvy technologically, but the learning process through remote teaching was quite new to them. I put myself in the students’ shoes and asked myself, “If I’m looking at a computer screen and my professor is teaching me, what do I expect him to do for me so I can actually get the same quality of instruction?”
I started using text documents instead of Power Point slides, and I would hide the answers to each of the steps by drawing a box over the key words. As I was solving the problem with the students in the Word file, I would ask them, “What is the answer to this? I’m not moving beyond this box unless I hear your responses.”
To compensate for not being there in person I gave them my cell phone number. They could call or text me at any time of the day or night, and I would respond to them within two hours if not right away, weekends included. You have to do certain things that are not expected of you as a professor to make sure that students aren’t shortchanged in their learning.
It was a very exhausting year, and it was a very fulfilling year because the students really appreciated the fact that I was going out of my way to help them learn. If you do the right thing, the person with whom you are communicating gets it, and they will rise to the occasion.
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