While Princeton students have just begun the fall semester, their professors have been working for months to reimagine how classes are taught in our new virtual world.
Like schools across the country, Princeton’s undergraduate education is fully remote this fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In this story, faculty in the sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences talk about how they adapted and innovated their classes for virtual teaching, from science labs and dance classes to introductory lectures and small seminars.
“I’ve been so impressed with how Princeton faculty and staff have worked together on innovative solutions for virtual teaching challenges,” Dean of the College Jill Dolan said. “Although COVID-19 requires inventions born of necessity, our faculty are using technologies to amplify and enliven their typically rigorous and engaging pedagogy.”
As examples, the University shipped laboratory kits to students around the world so they could conduct “at-home” experiments as part of science and engineering courses, and music and arts courses have been transformed so students can still get hands-on, practical experiences.
“We are all learning about remote learning and have worked very hard to bring our students an interesting course about which they can be passionate,” said Dan Notterman, a lecturer with the rank of professor in molecular biology.
Many professors collaborated with the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning to take existing courses from the classroom to the computer, or to design new classes for virtual instruction. More than 300 professors and instructors participated in 32 virtual academic strategies workshops this summer, and McGraw’s educational technologies staff had nearly 200 consultations with faculty to prepare for fall classes.
“Our faculty are teaching with, not against, the digital tools and online platforms that constitute our new virtual classrooms,” said Kate Stanton, associate dean and director of the McGraw Center. “They are putting the emphasis on creating community — including new forms of community — among students through collaborative assignments and classroom activities.”