UConn is now halfway through the fall semester and has successfully adopted new classroom solutions to improve learning and keep students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Much of this success is thanks to the educators in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), says Juli Wade, dean of the College.
“Our instructors have worked tirelessly to provide not only for the needs of CLAS majors, but also for the more than 95 percent of UConn students who take courses in our College,” says Wade. “I’m immensely proud of their efforts this semester.
The University spent months preparing the campus to reopen for classes this fall. Efforts included marking shared spaces like classrooms and dorms and putting in place community guidelines for UConn’s five campuses.
CLAS professors, graduate assistants, and support staff also made significant adjustments to undergraduate and graduate-level courses, preparing multiple lesson plans to meet the needs of in-person and distance learners.
About 75% of courses that are traditionally taught in a classroom are being offered entirely online this semester. These courses rely on digital platforms like Blackboard Collaborate and Kaltura to engage students through recorded lectures and virtual assignments.
The remaining courses look significantly different. Students are spread apart, with signs encouraging physical distancing on desks in classrooms and seats in large lecture halls. Students and instructors wear face coverings. All in-person classes are also structured to accommodate students who are remote or temporarily in quarantine, often with real-time video streams and live chats.
Approximately 30% of all laboratory classes with hands-on components take place in person, with activities split and schedules staggered to allow for more physical distancing. Some labs take advantage of outdoor spaces on campus to give students experience with tools and processes important to their fields.
Despite these logistics, students and instructors alike have shown incredible commitment to a new way of learning, says Wade.
“The high quality of scholarly interactions we’ve seen in classrooms and virtually has been possible because both our students and faculty committed to creating inclusive spaces where knowledge can continue to flow,” Wade says.