During the Spring semester of 2020 colleges and universities were forced to transition to remote teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unexpected transition left many faculty members searching for resources on how to deliver biotechnology courses in a distance learning format. In response, InnovATEBIO coordinated and delivered a series of webinars and resources for remote teaching and learning. With the Fall 2020 semester upon, us and the ongoing pandemic forcing colleges to reduce density and face-to-face course offerings, InnovATEBIO was interested to learn about the teaching modality that biotechnology programs will use during these unprecedented times.
In Summer 2020, InnovATEBIO conducted a survey of 120 program directors in the InnovATEBIO database asking about Fall 2020 teaching plans and program status within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey was completed by 46 program directors who shared the following information about plans for the Fall 2020 semester.
How will you be teaching courses in the Fall?
Four percent of respondents reported plans to teach all in-person courses, 65% reported plans to teach Hybrid (some face-to-face, some online/distance learning), 26% reported plans to teach through Online/Distance Learning (no face-to-face meetings with students), and 4% reported other plans for teaching. Of those who reported other plans, one reported that they would be postponing the introductory biotechnology course until Spring 2021 and one reported that the plan was still to be determined.
What safety plan/protocols will you be utilizing for your courses?
Most respondents reported plans for daily health checks and use of PPE, social distancing and enhanced sanitation as well as reducing the number of students performing each lab. Total number of students planned to be in a lab ranged from 4-12 or 50% capacity of the lab space. Some respondents reported reconfiguring equipment spacing or physical barriers being installed in labs.
Limit number of students conducting a lab
50% capacity of space
4 students per lab
8 students per lab
10 students per lab
12 students per lab
Time between labs for cleaning
Use of PPE – Masks, lab coats, gloves, hair nets, goggles, face shields
Students required to wash lab coats between meetings
Social distancing during lab
Daily health check, including temperature
Plastic barriers between lab stations
Personal items stored in car or different location with disinfection between use
Anything coming into lab is disinfected upon entry and exit
Control direction of student movement
Rearrange lab equipment for social distancing during use
Online lectures with students coming in for labs in limited numbers
Sanitation of workspace
Virtual office hours
Interactive virtual training from BioNetwork
Following state guidelines
Running labs with reduced number of students with students attending every 3 weeks
Four respondents shared documents with safety plans which can be accessed here:
Please share any additional information on modifications you have made to your teaching/courses due to the COVID 19 pandemic
Lab courses will focus on design and analysis of experiments
Faculty completing a 6-week structured remote teaching course on best practices
Pre-recording lectures and instrument use to be posted in online classes.
Lab related lectures are being pre-recorded for posting online
Some labs will be done via simulations or with online content.
Using LabArchives for all lab data and lab writeups
Increased student engagement approaches in the on-line space, discussion boards, videos, synchronous lectures, increased supplemental learning materials.
addition sets of equipment and instrumentation allowing for students working individually in the lab as opposed to working with a lab partner.
students will attend approximately 50% of their labs in person. Half of the students will do a face to face lab while the other half work on an online lab. The students switch the following week. Videos will be used to introduce/expose students to lab activities.
students will 'attend' remotely with their lab partner, and we will move through the labs more or less as typical. One lab partner will be responsible for performing and measuring each week, and the remote partner will help keep records, coach the other through the protocol, and both will spend time prior to lab planning their strategy.
Reduce the labs into fewer on campus sessions with students doing some labs as simulations or using lab kits at home.
Use of case studies and remote CURE project for enhancement of the critical thinking skills
Developing virtual labs that are similar to face-to-face labs
Using home biotech kits provided by Odin
In an effort to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the viability of biotechnology programs, the survey also asked if the college was discussing discontinuing the program. 30% of respondents indicated that the status of the program is being discussed for discontinuation. InnovATEBIO will be following up with these colleges to learn more and lend support when possible.