With Lehigh’s courses online through the summer sessions, faculty members are adjusting their teaching methods and materials to fit the new remote format as best as possible. Some courses, though, are easier to design online than others.
Michael Kramp, an English professor and the director of the film and documentary studies program, has been teaching some courses online for over a decade. This summer, he is teaching a course called “Health and Illness in Film and Television,” which focuses on a variety of filmic representations of health, illness, disability and recovery.
“This class is always designed to be taught online,” Kramp said. “A fair amount of the courses in the summer at Lehigh are always taught online, and it’s easier for faculty and students.”
Kramp teaches the class through lectures on films, looking at civic moments and then through student participation in daily discussion boards in an asynchronous manner to stimulate the best work possible.
Although summer courses pose difficulties with a more condensed calendar, there are a few advantages of summer education because it ideally allows students to focus on a couple of skills, Kramp said.
“When I design my summer school courses, I try to really limit not the amount of work, but the kind of work to focus on the repetition of certain skills,” Kramp said. “Because it’s a shorter period of time, you can keep doing that skill over and over again, and progressively get better at that specific skill.”
This semester has been an adjustment on both ends and Kramp hopes to go into teaching summer courses with this in mind.
“I think the best thing to do this summer is to try to understand what each student is experiencing and adjust and accommodate accordingly in the best way we can,” Kramp said.
Terry Hart, a former NASA astronaut and current Lehigh mechanical engineering and mechanics professor, said because of the current situation, his department decided to add more 300 level courses that typically aren’t available in the summer.
The addition of these courses are especially helpful for those graduating seniors who perhaps don’t have a job opportunity and have decided to continue graduate level courses that can also be used toward a master’s degree.
This summer, Hart said he will be teaching ME 343: Controls, which was designed to be a remote summer Zoom class, as well as a new summer course ME 356: Astrodynamics, which explores spacecraft trajectories.
“Fortunately, most of our courses fit pretty well into a Zoom lecture,” Hart said. “For the most part, we are presenting materials to students. But it’s pretty hard to do those hands-on scientific courses in laboratories. Hopefully, they will find ways to work through it.”
One thing Hart misses from his time teaching in-person is seeing the expression on students’ faces, which makes it easier to tell if they understand what the professor is saying, Hart said.
“What I find on Zoom is students usually don’t have their cameras on, so you can’t necessarily see their expressions, so I find myself pausing frequently to ask for questions instead of waiting just 5 seconds or so to see if someone has a question,” Hart said.
Registration for summer courses began on April 13 as regularly scheduled, said Linda Bell, the director of Registration and Academic Services.
“Regarding grading for summer, courses will be graded under the regular standard grading system,” Bell said.