Classroom additions create a positive learning environment

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UGA faculty members and administrators meticulously prepared for returning students

Classes start at the University of Georgia on August 20 after months of preparation to ensure that students will have a safe and comfortable learning environment. Faculty members and administrators have spent the summer preparing for the return of students in class, in person, online or in a hybrid fashion.

Teaching at UGA looks a little different this year due to the continued impact of the global pandemic. These classrooms – with social distancing advice, new technology, and plexiglass barriers – are starting to be used. So far, things are going better than expected, according to a few professors who taught on the first day.

Greg Vessels teaches a class on the first day of teaching. (Photo by Cal Powell)

“My classes are configured in a hybrid fashion with both distance and face-to-face instruction,” said Professor Greg Vessels, who teaches at UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “I was pleasantly surprised to have a full classroom that was socially distanced and almost at full capacity. All those who were connected remotely in time. I had to resist the urge to walk around the classroom so I could keep in contact with the camera. I sent out a quick exit survey and have only received a few responses so far, but they have all been positive. It was nice to come back to some semblance of normalcy.

The return to class today, despite the changes and accommodations, was magical. It’s great to be back in a classroom and interacting with the students. – Joseph Watson

This summer, more than 700 classes were reassigned to larger classrooms to allow more students to learn face-to-face; A total of 793 teaching spaces have been prepared for teaching this fall, and technology has been added, improved or changed in 111 centrally managed classrooms. This included the addition of webcams or monitors, as well as microphones for room sound amplification and Zoom broadcasts.

Professor Lance Palmer, who taught a tax planning class on the first morning of school, said: “The class went really well today. The students were ready to go and understood the environment very well, and it was nice to have a smaller number of students in each class – my class was split into two sessions during the regular meeting period to maintain a distance social – because I was able to make eye contact more easily with each student. I was worried that the students could not hear me with a mask, but that was not a problem. It was a good first day.

Professor Lance Palmer teaches a lesson on the first day of school. (Photo by Cal Powell)

Teacher training

In addition to the physical changes made in each room, a large number of teachers worked hard over the summer to learn more about how to create engaging virtual classrooms.

A series of training sessions took place during the summer with a high attendance: 868 teachers took part in “Getting ready to pivot”, a series of short courses offered by the Teaching and Learning Center; and 781 instructors participated in training sessions on improving the online learning experience for students offered by the Office of Online Learning.

“We know the semester will be drastically impacted by the pandemic and will require flexibility on the part of the entire campus community. However, I know that our faculty and staff are working hard to make this fall as safe and productive as possible while providing the best learning environment for our students, ”said Rahul Shrivastav, vice president of the education.

“For faculty members, teaching is a special calling and the premature end of face-to-face teaching this spring has been difficult,” said Prof. Joseph Watson, who teaches at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism. . “From this perspective, the return to class today, despite the changes and accommodations, was magical. It’s great to be back in a classroom and interacting with the students.


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