Coronavirus News: Making monsters remotely at NYU

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The challenges of remote learning have never been more obvious than during the coronavirus pandemic, and the fate of millions of students remains uncertain as the start of the fall semester rapidly approaches.

At New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, professors have had to totally re-invent classes that depend on students learning side by side.

Earlier this year, Rocio De Leon Pantoja was living her dream at NYU as a visiting student from Puerto Rico.

"I was having the time of my life," she said from her home in San Juan. "I loved New York."

She's a performer who has become fascinated with makeup, as taught by Professor Rob Benevides.

"I love instilling my passion for this kind of art in my students," he said.

Students create monsters, masks, and mythical creatures in his class, but in March, they were sent home to try and finish the course remotely.

"It's not the same," Rocio said. "But when you love something, you just find a way of doing it."

To finish the semester, she had to create Medusa in her San Juan apartment.

"When you're in a classroom with a professor, you like the professor to see your work," she said.

To help, Benevides put together makeup kits customized for each student and also provided detailed videos -- because he wanted "to still make my classes work."

He said the toughest part for him was keeping track of his students' progress with video conferencing.

"You heard so many stories about students that felt they got a lesser experience because of online classes," he said. "So I was very conscious of that and tried to make the environment as close to what it would have been in person."

The challenge may have been greater, but Rocio said it actually helped her learn more.

"When you do it remotely, it requires more effort and more dedication and discipline from you," she said.

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