In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person UArizona classes were transformed into online learning, following spring break. Professors and students alike are rose to the challenge of navigating the new virtual classrooms.
For Drs. Dieter and Netzin Steklis, who co-teach ACBS 160 Human & Animal Interrelationships and ACBS 484 Applied Captive Primate Behavior in Practice, the change was been taken in stride. The pair had previous experience with producing online course content and about ACBS 160 Netzin says, “We were fortunate in that this was the first academic year that we prepared an online course that ran parallel to our live course. So with COVID we simply moved everyone to the online format. Nonetheless, knowing that these students didn't "sign-up" for an online class, we have tried to keep them engaged using a variety of strategies”. With 250 students in the in-person class joining the 300 students already enrolled in the online course they added VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia slide show program which allows users to leave comments on slides using voice, text, audio file, or video, and encouraged students to comment in this exchange by having a prize raffle for those students who left posts. They also produced short videos highlighting a topic with a bit of humor. Here’s one of their videos focusing on horse warriors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n4tfGloVQU.
In Dr. Crista Coppola's courses, ACBS 311 Applied Companion Animal Behavior and ACBS 482 Applied Companion Animal Behavior in Practice, she and her preceptors worked together to come up with creative ways to engage her students. Her courses continued to be taught synchronously due to the engagement and discussion factor with recordings available for those few students who missed a lecture. They added "Spirit Days", a Tiger King watch party with a discussion on the welfare of the animals, a group children's book project teaching a dog or cat behavior concept, and creating a Public Service Announcement about risk factors associated with the COVID-19 stay at order home and dogs. While challenging, Dr. Coppola found that the Zoom platform helped with putting faces to the names of her 68 students and allowed for students who wanted to stay beyond the lecture time to visit and talk to do so since they weren't running off to their next class.
ACBS 696A, colloquially known as the ACBS Seminar Series, provides enrolled graduate students with opportunities to learn and practice communicating their research results to an audience. Instructor Dr. Zelieann Craig found several benefits to moving the seminar to a fully online structure including increased attendance, reduced paper usage by collecting student feedback electronically, still maintaining the follow-up Q&A sessions, and somehow, ending on time. When asked about moving her course online Zelieann says, “The first step that I took was to have an honest discussion with the students during which we assessed their feelings about the change, shared concerns, asked questions, and, most importantly, brainstormed about how we would complete the course this semester. I was blown away by the resilience and motivation that the students have shown which, I am sure, is evident when they present their talks on Zoom.”
Seminars are open to anyone interested in attending, go to the seminar calendar for recordings of past seminars and to find the link to attend future seminars ACBS Spring Seminar Calendar.
Dr. Margarethe Cooper, who teaches ACBS 403R Biology of Animal Parasites, MIC 195D This Wormy World, and MIC 205A General Microbiology, was also impressed by how her students continued to dig in to the coursework, despite their ongoing challenging circumstances. She says, "I had a few students contact me about having obligations to take care of ill relatives away from home, sometimes in other countries, or who are essential healthcare workers potentially exposed to COVID-19, even a student who had been hospitalized, leading to challenges in accessing a computer and internet while in self-isolation. I am grateful that these students were able to reach out to me, and we worked together so they could take care of their health and loved ones and make up the materials when they could."
These are just a few examples of how ACBS faculty and students worked together to Bear Down and persevere to make the best of the Spring semester.
Natalie Kimble, an undergraduate student in Applied Companion Animal Behavior, produced this public service announcement focused on what to do now to make dogs more comfortable when their owners return to work or school. https://www.facebook.com/ua.acbs/videos/1619950264835912/.
Dr. Netzin Steklis starring in “A Silly Version of Horse Warriors” video for ACBS 160 Human and Animal Interrelationships course.
Students in ACBS 311 Applied Companion Animal Behavior participate in "Spirit Day".