Biology professor embraces online communication for church and classroom

Biology professor

Lander biology professor embraces online communication for church and classroom instruction

Story by Eric Lawson Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

Mark Pilgrim
Dr. Mark Pilgrim, biology professor at Lander University and longtime member of Lowell United Methodist Church of Greenwood, leads his Sunday school class from his front porch via Facebook Live.

Having led online classes before, the transition to the medium because of the COVID-19 pandemic was not difficult for Lander University biology professor Dr. Mark Pilgrim. Also an active member of Lowell United Methodist Church in Greenwood, Pilgrim embraced the opportunity to lead his Sunday school classes online, too

“This past weekend (March 22) was the first time for no Sunday school or worship service in our church, so I led the Sunday school lesson from my front porch via Facebook Live,” Pilgrim explained. “Other groups in our church are doing the same thing, and our pastor is delivering daily devotionals through Facebook Live.”

For Pilgrim, there are both positives and negatives about the online approach from his church.

“We can see from the viewer tallies that we’re reaching hundreds of people, which is far more than our usual physical attendance. The downside is that my Sunday school lessons are usually heavily discussion-based, so I’m having to adjust to that.”

As for his Lander students, Pilgrim says overall, they are adjusting well to the transition to online instruction for the remainder of the spring semester.

“My students were understandably concerned initially, but they seem to have settled into things. Blackboard, the virtual learning tool we use, is proving to be a good way to maintain office hour communications, and maintain contact with our students. During this time, assuring our students that we’re here for them and to give them some sort of ‘anchor’ as we go through this together is the most important thing we can do.”

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