Nearly a month into remote instruction, students and professors have settled into their new normal. Marilyn Vogel, lecturer and coordinator for Concepts of Science, said that now it’s a matter of keeping students moving and motivated.
“On the one hand we have more time to do work, but on the other hand I think students are struggling with motivation and a changed schedule.” Vogel said. “So now that we are in week four, the issue is not things settling down but keeping things moving.”
Vogel is one of many professors who have been working on a successful transition from in-person labs to online labs.
“It helped that my classes have already been adapted to online versions,” Vogel said. “Our labs use Canvas a lot, and as a STEM class we try to model technology adoption. The graduate students who teach Concepts of Science have all done a great job learning about new software and following instructions on the changed format.”
Online labs use more resources than in-person labs, and graduate teaching assistants have had to adapt to this quickly during the transition to online delivery.
“I have to make sure students have the right links to the online class sessions, that I’ve set up the virtual classroom correctly and being sure I had a space I could dedicate to teaching.” Tyler Smith said, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Geosciences.
The most important thing was making sure the students were comfortable and able to learn in whatever situation they might’ve ended up in with the sudden change, Smith said.
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“Several students suddenly found themselves in parts of the country, and the world, where a reliable internet connection was not always guaranteed or even available,” he said. “Diagnosing computer and connectivity issues both on my end and at a distance for the students in my class has also been a part of the process.”
Vogel said in lecture, graduate teaching assistants have also given one open book exam and allowed for more flexible deadlines in terms of assignments. For learning, on the other hand, it is up to students to put in the effort.
“With any normally online class you have students who will take shortcuts and do the minimal amount of work, and then you have students who do everything with great thoroughness and really seem to soak stuff up,” she said.
The online labs follow the same schedule of material as in-person labs, but use more online resources.
“I have a Slack tutoring channel and made a few other resources available to give extra support, but the learning experience resides mostly in the students’ hands right now,” Vogel said.
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