UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — While Penn Staters may have had some time to adjust to pandemic life for the fall 2020 semester, there were still many challenges to overcome as students and instructors worked through the limitations of a mixed-mode learning environment.
In the College of Information Sciences and Technology, adjunct instructor Bryan Ollendyke added blogging and branding to his database design class; while Bart Pursel, affiliate associate research professor, and Jennifer Sparrow, adjunct instructor, brought their mixed-mode IST 110 class closer together by having in-class students also log in on Zoom to encourage more discussion. Kris Grey, a visiting artist and assistant teaching professor at the Penn State School of Visual Arts, worked around the limitations posed by COVID-19 for their Art 80: Introduction to Ceramics course by having students create their own Claymation short films at home.
These are just a few of the stories of Penn Staters going above and beyond as they work to continue educating students through a global pandemic. Lab work proved especially difficult to adapt to a remote learning environment, but educators came up with creative solutions to help students keep learning.
Two teaching assistants bring the lab home to students
In the College of Agricultural Sciences, two teaching assistants worked to ensure that all of the 41 undergraduates in the two sections of their course had samples and materials for lab work.
Elisa Lauritzen and Max Aleman are both doctoral students and TAs for PPEM405: Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, and began planning early in the summer for the possibility of a remote lab environment. In June, they began hatching plans for both remote and in-person instruction, but realized that there would be no way to do a restricted in-person option.
“We just couldn't figure out a way to take care of 40 students in a lab that could only accommodate 10 people, and two of them were TAs,” Lauritzen said.
The course instructor, Christina Rosa, associate professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, gave them the freedom to tackle the course as they would see fit, Lauritzen said.