UC Davis Today: Classroom to go for online education

Pair of hands holding iPad with a classroom of people on the monitor

Classroom to go

Prof on virtual teaching

Arnold Bloom against a green screen

Videography by Joe Proudman
(1 min 35 sec)

More and more in the 21st century, students upon opening their computers are likely to see their professors staring back.

If the professor is Arnold Bloom of the Department of Plant Sciences, he will be speaking to them on video from his home studio where, besides doing the lecturing, he is the director, the cameraman, and the lighting and sound technician for his online course on climate change.

Yes, his students lose real face time with their professor, but they gain flexibility in their school and work schedules. Other faculty members, like Katharine Burnett of art history, actually gain face time with students, by putting lectures online and devoting class time to discussion.

The virtual teaching platform offers endless opportunities for the presentation of multimedia material and assignments, guest lecturers (no travel required!) and “field trips” around the world.

In fact, many faculty members at UC Davis are going the “hybrid” route — teaching about half their classes in person and the other half online — helped in part by provost’s awards to develop such courses.

Professor Naomi Janowitz, for example, is developing Religious Studies 15, “Reading War, Fighting War.” “Part of the time we’ll be reading and discussing The Iliad,” she says, “but we’re also going to be doing a number of activities that are more about the experience of warfare in America today … (with) group work, webcasts, Skype interviews with veterans and activities such as that, that work better outside the classroom.”

Rosemary Capps, assistant director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, said: “Learning is the most important thing, and our innovative faculty are finding new ways, new tools and new media to support the learning of their students, along with the tried and true methods.”

Students can use computers and mobile devices to attend class. Digital illustration by Greg Urquiaga and Russ Thebaud

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