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Professor Leslie Ferreira uses action figure dolls to teach his “Theater 225: Beginning Direction” students through Zoom. Instead of directing humans, professor Ferreira’s students direct the dolls where they should place on stage.

Generation Zoom Learns Online

As the battle against COVID-19 rages, L.A. City College professors adopt a new style of teaching. 

By William B. Torrez

Professor Leslie
Professor Leslie Ferreira uses action figure dolls to teach his “Theater 225: Beginning Direction” students through Zoom. Instead of directing humans, professor Ferreira’s students direct the dolls where they should place on stage.

America enters its eighth month of lockdown, and it does not seem like it will unlock any time soon. 

People in America are adjusting to their work environment by working remotely. Colleges are no exception. 

Since the Spring of 2020, most community colleges in California have been teaching remotely. 

This is the first semester since quarantine began that Professor Leslie Ferreira has taught students Theater 225: Beginning Direction through Zoom. 

“I have been teaching for over 20 years, and I am finding online teaching to be really challenging,” said Professor Ferreira. “I am used to teaching actors in a real stage, not in a video chat.” 

Before Covid-19, cell phones presented instructors with their most significant problem during class. Today, instructors face a new problem: students do not want to show their faces on the Zoom camera. 

“It is hard to know if the student is paying attention in class because their camera is off,” Ferreira said. “For all we know, the student might be asleep as I’m teaching.” 

Like any instructor who works with Zoom, Professor Ferreira had to think outside the box. 

“I bought action figure dolls from all races and ages, so my students could get hands-on experience directing through Zoom,” Ferreira said. 

Joey Aquino is a second-year student at LACC who trains at the Theatre Academy. He was looking forward to directing students this semester, but now, he just watches Professor Ferreira as he discusses movement using dolls. 

“I know we are living in a hard time, but it is weird to direct action figure dolls instead of our peers,” Aquino said. “I guess we have to learn one way or the other during these difficult times.” 

Classes are not the only thing going online this year. Student performances went virtual as well. 

This semester, Professor Ferreira directed “Virtual Green Room,” an original one-act parody on acting students who learn remotely. 

Isiah Noriega also studies at the LACC Theatre Academy and is in his second year. He participated as an actor in “Virtual Green Room.” 

“Although our performance was done through Zoom, we still rehearsed with our partner(s) like it was a performance on stage,” Noriega said. “I’m personally grateful I can perform with an audience, even if it is through Zoom.” 

James Douglas received a double dose of remote learning. He graduated from high school last summer remotely and now attends LACC remotely. He is enrolled in Basic English and math courses. 

“I always thought my first year in college was going to be at a campus, surrounded by many of my peers, and learning from different professors,” Douglas said. “Never in a million years I thought I would graduate high school online and continue my higher education online as well. It feels so surreal.” 

While Pfizer has created a vaccine that has a 95% efficacy rate and submitted their application for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration, according to CNN.com, it won’t be available until 2021. 

Until a vaccine is available, Professor Ferreira will continue to use his dolls as a teaching method through Zoom for the entire school year. 

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