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November 11, 2020

Screen Time in a Contactless World

Emma Smith '23

Facing a computer screen a few hours a day for class can be like watching paint dry. Now, imagine taking a three-week course centered on watching and analyzing 10 cult films in a limited window of time. Seems almost impossible, right? In my experience, it was actually quite engaging. 

Professor of English Heather Hayton taught this Cult Movies course, and it turned out to be an experience that sparked my interest in Film Studies. Of course, taking the class fully online rather than in person was a big adjustment. Human interaction through a screen is quite different from being physically in class, but Heather transitioned us smoothly into our workload. 

Moving strictly into online learning during the pandemic was an unknown area for me. This being a three-week course added some other factors to how quickly and effectively I could absorb the information. I was unsure of how I was going to successfully retain the information on my own and then present my ideas and discussions to the class.

However, Heather morphed a seemingly complex class into an enjoyable experience. It not only challenged my way of understanding film, but also took a deeper dive into relating these films to the society we know today. Part of the course was even comparing aspects of the films with issues like the pandemic, making it a teachable moment in history — something for us to learn from. 

Heather made it accessible, in a troublesome time, to grasp knowledge that can be applicable to issues we are facing now. By utilizing discussion threads, breakout groups, and asking in-depth questions, she did an outstanding job of keeping her students, myself included, engaged. I accomplished understanding material that will definitely change my mindset on how to view and understand the world through film. 

Maybe learning through a screen about other screen- and film-based experiences is an adequate way of teaching this specific course. Overall, I feel it is possible to learn something from a three-week online class during a pandemic. It being able to stick all depends on the execution style of the professor. Heather Hayton is a prime example of how a course in a time like now is able to run smoothly. 

Guilford College is committed to providing engaging and transformative educational experiences, even during the pandemic. Schedule your personalized visit today to learn more.