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  • Sincerely, Southern

Dean Cummings keeps up passionate teaching style even in the midst of a pandemic

By Alexis Southward

Photo courtesy Dean Cummings

With Covid-19 invading Georgia Southern’s hallways and classrooms, it may seem difficult to believe class is still in session, successfully that is. Dean Cummings, an Emmy-winning producer and writer and ongoing Multimedia Film and Production professor at GS for seven years now says he has never allowed his fierce teaching style to dwindle, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Cummings believes that the pandemic makes him even more adamant on successfully molding his students into stars in their field.

“My initial plan was to be very protective of myself and my students for safety reasons, but my goal as a professor is to be proud of them and their work as soon as they leave my doors and into the real world,” Cummings said. “That seems almost impossible if I couldn’t teach the way I normally would.”

He went on to add that he does follow protocol in some aspects by meeting mostly on zoom for his less invasive classes and following social distancing guidelines when he must teach in a classroom, but he still embeds his fiery and passionate teaching style into every lesson, in person and on zoom.

Cummings believes that being in broadcast requires hands-on action, and he attempts to do that as best he can within his Converged News class to successfully prepare them for being out in their field.

According to Zoe Boylan, a GS student taking Converged News with Cummings, the class is difficult but she believes he is a great professor because he does not let Covid-19 stop him from challenging the class to make work that would make it in the real world and helping them as much as he can along the way.

This class mimics a real-world newsroom, and Cummings believes that the class done remotely, which he calls “Converged-lite”, cannot be taught without in person meetings.

“The real world of broadcast is not civil like it is on zoom. Everything is a team production and you must interact with one another using eye contact and certain body language. And you can’t yell at one another, which is pretty necessary in a news room,” said Cummings.

Although he believes Zoom may not be the best for his Converged News class, he does believe it is pretty helpful for his Media Ethics course. He believes that being on zoom for a class that is not as invasive gives him a chance to get to know his students.

He adds that he can finally learn names on zoom because he is constantly seeing their name when they speak.

Cummings prides himself on how accessible he is to his students during these times.

He states that he uses GroupMe as one of his main means of communication because it allows him to help his students in the drop of a hat.

Mentoring is a big deal to Cummings, and he believes being able to communicate quickly and efficiently with students will place him in a role that the students can look up to and always go to for help when needed.

“He isn’t going to matter in 10 years, but the first two years are hell, and his teaching style and his mentoring will be all they can look back on and hold on to during that rough time,” Cummings said when asked why he believes it is so important to be set a standard for his students and to be a good mentor during college.

Since Covid-19 hit, Cummings believes that he must go even harder with his teaching to successfully prepare his students for the real world, and he believes the best way is to be there for your students but not coddle them.

He says that coddling is a dangerous game and that he must be a little hard on his students, but also be the biggest support system that they have. He strives to make sure his students know that as challenging as he may be in his classes, he is always there for them to lean on when necessary.

When asked what his motivation is to get up every day and still teach his students as strongly as he does, he says the students are.

“These students will be our department’s lineage,” Cummings said. “There’s nothing I want more than to send successful and well-prepared students into the world so that they can leave here and be proud of themselves and even me.”

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