Paper No. 49-4
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM
REFLECTING ON WATER: CONTRASTING LESSONS FROM TWO COURSES DURING THE PANDEMIC
During the 2020-21 academic year, many courses at the University of Kentucky were offered in hybrid (blended distance and in-person) mode in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This offered an unanticipated opportunity to examine whether a particular course might be suited for distance learning. In spring 2021, I taught two hybrid synchronous courses, Global Water Issues (GWI) and Hydrogeology, which had previously been offered in-person. GWI is an undergraduate topical course that integrates readings, films, lectures, discussions, reflective writing assignments, a presentation, and a project. Hydrogeology, which is taken by both undergraduate and graduate students, entails lectures, demonstrations, in-class exercises, problem sets, two exams, a term paper, and a presentation. Both classes met in-person once every other week, but all meetings were on Zoom to accommodate students who might not be able to be physically present, and lectures were recorded and posted to Canvas. Challenges included the time needed to correct captions for lecture recordings; the university’s prohibition on off-campus field trips, which affected Hydrogeology; the need for films to be available online; and student stress (from illness and technical problems). Successes included being able to detect and correct mistakes in recorded lectures; the use of Zoom chats for facilitating class discussions and tracking participation; the relative ease with which students used Zoom for presentations; and the ability of students to attend from off-campus as needed. In future, I will revert to teaching Hydrogeology in-person, which facilitates small-group instruction of technical subject matter. Before the pandemic, I was planning to propose GWI as a permanent in-person course, but based on my experience last semester, I will propose it as a synchronous online course instead.