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Technology & Group Work

Mali Hubert, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Mali HubertI am the lead teaching assistant for BioLit 150 (organismal and ecological biology literacy). BioLit is a compliment to the lecture portion of Bio150 where they learn skills to re

ad and interpret primary literature in ecology and evolutionary biology fields. This semester, we are conducting classes fully online for both lecture and BioLit sections. The BioLit class format (both in person and online) requires extensive group work and collaboration between students. We have had our fair share of challenges, but we have also had a couple successes since implementing this course to its online format late spring 2020.  

Voiceover PowerPoints

Because this is a skills-based course, we recognized the importance of maintaining those skills in the classroom. Since the online format is particularly challenging when it comes to conveying and practicing skills, we created “skills” voiceover PowerPoints (VoPP) that walk through step-by-step on how to learn these skills. An example of this that occurs toward the end of the semester is a tutorial on how to create a graph in Microsoft Excel. The VoPP shares screenshots of how to do this in Excel and includes directions on how to make a graph.  

Group Work & Google Drive

Because this class is based around group work, we were adamant about maintaining that format while online. After about 15 minutes of lecture from the instructor, students are sent to breakout rooms with 2-3 other students to complete an assignment. The assignment is available on a class-specific Google Drive where they are able to share with others in their group to collaborate. After the assignment is completed, they download it from Google Drive and upload it to Canvas.  The online format has made this student-centered class particularly challenging because it is skills-based and requires heavy collaboration among students. Despite this, we have adapted and have had positive responses from the students (with room for improvement, of course). 

Just in Time Teaching Tip: Making Online Classes as Interactive as Possible


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