COVID-19 Remote Teaching Update

There’s so much going on right now—so, I think I should post this update about my plans for remote learning. Our current situation at my institution is that we are directed to transition all of our courses to “remote” learning—fortunately, we have the freedom to define how this is done ourselves.

This semester, I have two “lecture” courses and two labs. I’m going to treat these different.

Labs – Algebra-Based 2nd Physics (Electricity and Magnetism) and Calc-Based 1st Physics (Mechanics and Stuff)

How do you do a remote lab? Oh, sure—it’s very possible to come up with some things students can do outside of the lab. Actually, these make great labs in general. However, we don’t have a bunch of time to make this stuff work. So, here’s my plan.

  • Pick a set number of labs to offer the students. There were probably about 6-7 labs left in the semester, so I’m going to try and offer that many to the students. I will recommend that students try to complete 4-5 of these labs. They can pick which ones to finish.
  • For some of these labs, I will simply give the student the data that they would have otherwise collected. If there is some type of complicated equipment, I will hopefully make a short explanation video.
  • For other labs, I will give students suggestions on how to complete the lab at home. For instance—use stuff to measure the speed of sound (with uncertainty). Or measure the strength of a magnet. There’s a very good chance that most students could find material to complete these.
  • Finally, there are labs that focus on numerical calculations. Students can do these anywhere (and they are great).

Oh, what about the lab report and the final exam? For the lab report, they just need to turn in one formal lab report to be graded. The final exam will be on paper and the students can just answer the questions on paper and send me a picture of their test (or mail it to me or something).

“Lecture” Courses—Physical Science and Physics for Elementary Education Majors

Both of these course are only partial lectures. The Physical Science course shows short videos of experiments and then the students discuss the evidence and participate via multiple-choice clicker questions. It works well.

The other course is basically the same thing except that the students conduct small experiments to collect their own data.

So, what am I going to do with these classes? Fortunately, the curriculum has these video experiments online. I’m going to just cut down the material and make a new schedule (removing activities that aren’t completely necessary). With these videos, the students can still do the same activities. Once a week (or when necessary), I’ll have an online group meeting where students can discuss the experiments and ask questions.

Hope that works.

Summary

My remote learning plans can be summarized as two main points.

  • Don’t be a dick.
  • Make things as simple as possible—no need to destroy yourself over this bad situation.

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