Q. How will my Biol 1120 General Biology 2 Virtual class work this fall?
Thank you for your interest in BIOL-1120. As you are well aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the means and methods by which Chattanooga State will be offering instruction this semester. During a normal semester, you would attend lecture presentations and labs in-person with an instructor. As such, the course would be considered Live Synchronous, as you would be attending lecture and lab classes at designated times throughout the week.
Your BIOL-1120 class this Fall will be offered Virtual Synchronous, although in many regards it will be similar to Online Asynchronous. What this means is that it will be an online course – both lecture and lab – with opportunities to meet with your instructor (me) during scheduled class times using the Zoom online meeting platform. For the lecture portion of the course, your access to instruction will be primarily through video presentations. The videos are intended to recreate the classroom presentations, with the added benefit of being able to watch the videos on your own time, as often as necessary to learn and comprehend the information. You will be expected to use Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, and Excel in this class. If you don't already have Microsoft Office, download it for free from the Chattanooga State library website: https://library.chattanoogastate.edu/studenttechsupport/OfficeforFree
Each week you will work through a couple of video presentations, answer study guide questions, and complete online assignments (i.e. quizzes) as spelled out in the course schedule and on eLearn. The videos and assignments will be completed on your own schedule throughout the week. As such, instruction and assignments are essentially asynchronous.
Of course, you will still have access to a live instructor. I will be hosting ‘recitation’ sessions each week during your scheduled class time via Zoom. Think of them as a time where your instructor is available to you so that you can ask questions, somewhat like a group tutoring session. Recitation sessions are commonly used at four-year universities to provide additional time for discussion and review in challenging courses. These sessions are not required, as I understand students have changing schedules and a lot to balance with work and family, but they are here to provide you with a chance to ask questions and get additional help. The Zoom sessions will be Virtual Synchronous, since the meetings will take place during the scheduled class time. Your instructor will always be available by email, as well, whenever you have questions. Furthermore, we expect to have tutoring available via tutor.com (see eLearn for details).
The quizzes on eLearn will ensure that you are learning the basic concepts and staying caught up with the material. However, you will also be taking 4 proctored exams to demonstrate your overall success in mastering the course material. We will be using the HonorLock software to proctor the exams.
With regards to the lab portion of the course, there is no better way to learn and develop the laboratory skills required in biology than through actual hands-on activities. Thus, you will be purchasing a Carolina lab kit at the start of the semester to perform some hands-on dissections. You will also perform virtual experiments using Labster, and will need to purchase the voucher code from the bookstore. Performing these experiments each week will complement and supplement the lecture materials, and give you real-life lab experience in a risk-free environment. The Carolina lab kit is about $50 and will need to be purchased immediately at the start of the semester (purchase instructions will be provided in eLearn). The Labster voucher code is about $65, and can be purchased from the bookstore. The textbook we use in this class is the same textbook that was required from BIOL-1110, so many of you may already have it. It is recommended, but you will get all the material you need to be successful in this class from my lecture PowerPoints.
In addition, you will not need to purchase a lab manual. I will provide an online lab manual to guide you through each week’s activities. Additional online lab activities include the Unit 1 project and lab reports. Lab activities can be done on your own schedule each week (asynchronous). Similar to lecture, however, I will host synchronous Zoom sessions to provide additional help and instruction during scheduled lab times.
It is my hope that this format for BIOL-1120 will be very similar to the experience students would have during a normal semester of on-campus classes. Certainly, changes will be made during the semester as circumstances unfold. But if we can all remain flexible, and check eLearn and our Chattanooga State emails daily, I’m sure we will have a great semester!