▶️ COCC profs adjust to hands-off instruction for hands-on courses


It might be simple for professors to teach math and English classes over Zoom calls. Some subjects are a little more complicated.

“Learning how to cook, learning how to be a chef or baker, is very hands-on,” Thor Erickson, a chef instructor, said. “It’s a big shift for teaching these students.”

Monday was the first day of the spring term for Central Oregon Community College. All classes at COCC will be taught remotely at least until April 28.

Students are having to adjust and make-do while taking classes that require certain tools and resources that they may not have at home.

“We have wonderful kitchens at the Culinary Arts Institute that aren’t being used,” Erickson said. “That includes things like saute pans and certain appliances. We are asking students to do their best with what they have.”

Massage therapy is another department that typically relies on hands-on learning. Professors are allowing students to borrow massage therapy tables to practice with at home.

“The only thing that’s changing is the method of delivery, and that’s temporary,” Alan Nunes, an assistant professor of massage therapy, said.

Instructor Michael Gesme says teachers in the music department are teaching more music theory before they can get back to in-person music lessons.

“Nobody is approaching this with, ‘this is the best way to do it,'” Gesme said. “We’re saying, this is the best way to do it with the circumstances we’re in.”

Many students’ biggest concern is the job market. Erickson and Nunes both say they’ve gotten a lot of questions about the usefulness of a culinary and massage therapy degree during the pandemic.

“Students are very concerned,” Erickson said. “Is the training I’m getting right now still going to be useful? Will the restaurant industry be changing as a whole with this epidemic is over? But, I’m hopeful.”

Teachers are giving both instruction and encouragement through Zoom calls.

“It’s going to come back,” Nunes said. “When this is all over, there’s going to be a demand for human connection, and that’s what we provide.”



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