Computer scientists Jeremy Brown and Joanne Selinski share their experiences on remote teaching and learning, JHU Engineering Magazine

February 2, 2021

Computer Science Professor Joanne Selinski teaches remotely her Gateway Computing: JAVA class from a studio in Malone Hall.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly forced all teaching and learning to go virtual in mid-March, faculty members have gotten a crash course in what works—and what doesn’t—in remote teaching and learning.

Jeremy Brown, for instance, learned the importance of making sure your microphone is turned on while recording a lecture via Zoom— something he neglected to do one day early on because of the stress of adapting a curriculum to a remote format while maintaining his active research program, all with two small children underfoot at home.

“I did the whole lecture and discovered it had no sound,” says Brown, the John C. Malone Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “Lesson learned: Check the mic before you record.”

On their way to becoming adept in remote teaching, faculty members have adapted course content to new formats, adjusted grading rubrics, tweaked syllabi, and (via experience and intensive training by dedicated support staff) gained mastery of new strategies, pedagogies, and technologies— all in the name of ensuring they deliver rich, engaging, Johns Hopkins-quality content to students remoting in from Baltimore to Beijing.

“Our faculty showed great dedication during this transition. The result has been an explosion of innovation,” says Michael Falk, professor of materials science and vice dean for undergraduate education. “More than a few faculty members have told me that they plan to continue some of the instructional practices they piloted, including increasing one-on-one meetings with students and utilizing cutting-edge software tools, even after in-person classes return.”

Armed with knowledge acquired during hours of training and practice, more than 130 engineering faculty members chose to teach their fall courses from the sophisticated, new, state-of-the-art remote teaching studios the Whiting School built on campus over the summer.

These spaces—equipped with multiple camera and screen options, Zoom room controllers, lighting panels, and professional-quality microphones—are a far cry from the makeshift offices faculty members rushed to set up last March when in-person instruction was suspended. At that point, many worked from their kitchen tables or in spare bedrooms, with boisterous young children darting in and out, or spouses and recently-returned home adult children vying for bandwidth at desks nearby.

“This has been a real adventure in so many ways,” says Joanne Selinski, associate teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science. She jury-rigged a desk at home from an ironing board and a Corona beer box; the ironing board afforded her flexibility in seating positions, and the box allowed her laptop enough height that she could stand while delivering lectures.

Read the complete story at JHU Engineering.

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