Cal Poly faculty members have been finding unique ways to teach students online; professors teaching classes with labs have become especially creative.

For biological sciences professor Michael Black, he spent his spring break on campus filming labs for the entire spring quarter for Cell Biology (BIO 452).

“I strapped a GoPro to my forehead and videotaped me doing all of the things, so it wasn’t actually showing me, but it was showing my hands,” Black said.

Black said it took him about 5 to 6 hours a day for 5 days to create all the videos in the lab. According to Black, his biggest struggle has been trying to condense what would normally be 80-minute lectures into 30-40 minute lecture videos for his students to watch.

YouTube video
Video by Lauren Kozicki

Before labs, students receive a written-out protocol of the lab, create a flow chart and watch the lab video created by Black. Then they use the data collected by Black to write a lab report.

Biological sciences junior Hannah Kleppe said she found it difficult to keep herself engaged while watching prerecorded videos, especially when the classes are asynchronous.

“The content is so dense, and in person it’s much easier to focus and it’s a lot smoother to understand content just because my professors are able to keep us engaged,” Kleppe said. “Overall, it’s really hard and I don’t like it.”

Black’s class is primarily asynchronous, except for a few meetings that would include synchronized lab quizzes.

“There’s not the discussion that we can have in class that’s as easy unless I had it synchronous, but we’ve really been discouraged from having a lot of this being synchronous,” Black said.

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