Dispatches from the Field: Teaching Innovation Videos

September 16, 2020
Machine in deep sea

Back in July, Peter Girguis, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, reached out to the Bok Center after a series of informal conversations with faculty colleagues about their innovative ideas for the upcoming semester, which would be taught entirely remotely. The faculty Girguis encountered were working hard across the summer to develop innovative, rich experiences for undergraduates in the fall. While some types of in-person learning experiences cannot be replicated exactly when classes are conducted online, faculty have devised a variety of strategies to ensure that students can engage with concepts and materials in a manner that is authentic to their discipline. In his own work, for instance, Girguis’s research activities in oceanography are already conducted remotely. He spends most of his life as a scientist operating remote-controlled submarines that are sometimes halfway across the globe, and he realized that this semester of remote learning would provide a great opportunity to involve his students in original research on the ocean floor.

In collaboration with Girguis, the Bok Center worked with a number of faculty to develop videos about similarly innovative projects they had in mind for students in the fall. Girguis spoke with us about his plans for OEB119: Deep Sea Bio, and we spoke to several more faculty members, including Marianna Linz about using physical kits for EPS129: Climate and Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, and Alex Rehding about the lessons of the most remote of musical objects, the Voyager Golden Record. While their plans varied, all of them were dedicated to making teaching in the fall as rich and transformative for undergraduates as would have been the case had they all been together on campus.

The Bok Center looks forward to continuing to solicit stories from faculty and students about the teaching and learning happening across this year, with a goal of sharing them with Harvard’s community and beyond.