SF State Faculty Rise to Shelter-in-Place Challenge with Remote Instruction

Tuesday, May 05, 2020
Photo of Greta Snider working with celluloid film inside of an open garage
Professor of Cinema Greta Snider demonstrates a film processing technique in her garage for her Material Cinema course.

SF STATE NEWS -- For Professor of Cinema Greta Snider, on the other hand, the key to transitioning to remote teaching was decidedly low-tech. In her Material Cinema course, students learn how to creatively shoot (and damage) physical film to create interesting visual effects. When the shelter-in-place requirement was announced, Snider leapt into action, individually mailing students rolls of film containing found footage for them to work with.

“The internet is good for some things, but not all things,” Snider explained. “The U.S. Mail has been incredibly important to our class.”

When students complete their experimentation at home, they mail the film back to Snider so she can digitize the film for editing. She’s embraced technology in other ways, though: Her classes have hosted demonstrations by visiting artists over Zoom, with some future appearances planned with speakers in locations as far away as Japan.

And as she adapts her course material, Snider has also tried recreating some of the social aspects of taking a class in person — all the more important at a time when many may feel isolated. She opens her Zoom classroom early to allow students opportunities to chat before she joins the class and holds regular check-ins where students can talk about their lives.

“People seem to enjoy it, and I hope it’s making a difference,” Snider said. “You might not go out for a sandwich with folks in your class, but you have developed this other relationship — and that’s really important.”