Q: Which classes did you teach remotely this Spring?
I taught Biochemistry B: Metabolism in March and Chemistry 1: Atomic Structure and Bonding in April.
Q: What was similar and what was different about teaching remotely?
I kept a lot of the same material for both courses and still did readings and teaching, even if it was through Zoom. I still made sure a lot of the interesting and applied examples for chemistry were informed by the students in my class and what they were interested in. The major difference for me is obviously not being able to run in-person labs. I got around this by creating virtual lab programming that focussed on process – i.e. 90% of what would happen in lab spaces. When students return to campus (someday), I’ll be sure to hold a couple work-shops on lab-based techniques to make sure they don’t feel like they missed out on something.
Q: How do students take part in active and inquiry-based learning with remote classes?
There’s a few things students can do. First, know how hard your tutors are working to adjust to this remote environment! Do your best to be in class times, stay on top of things, and buy into what we’re planning. Second, we’re all going to have to work at building community since this normally comes from being in a classroom together. Make study groups, hold electronic discussion times, continue to be curious. Lastly, be structured. I think everyone is sick of their computer right now, but if you are really intentional about how you spend your time – class, homework, and then fresh air/exercise/creative projects with no distractions you’ll be more productive when you need to be.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in teaching remotely?
Chemistry is so experiential! I have always said that the classroom was a necessary place so that we can go to the lab! And we can’t. However, this is a fun challenge and I’m getting to be really creative and try new things that may even be better than what I had before.
Q: What were some of the benefits of remote learning?
Other than teaching classes in a dress shirt and sweatpants? I find I’m getting to collaborate more with my colleagues. I know that seems counterintuitive since we’re all at home, but we’re all feeling like we’re in this together and the faculty support network from other faculty has been amazing. I work with brilliant and dedicated colleagues and I’m learning so much from everyone and I’m working in so much good stuff that I’m borrowing (taking, really) from these incredible faculty that I’m so lucky to work with.