The Ursinus community has finally returned to Collegeville and the bears are more than happy to be home. Although the campus entered an extended hibernation this spring and summer, Ursinus administrators and faculty have been busy behind the scenes. The den has been remodeled to accommodate the numerous but necessary safety precautions warranted by a return to campus. Outdoor classrooms litter the lawns and not a single bear roams without a mask, while hand sanitizer, social distancing, and respect for others’ safety is plenty.
The Biology Department is no exception to this adaptation. With many courses dependent on hands-on learning, creativity was key in including mask-to-mask, hybrid, and fully-online learners in lab procedures. Face shields allow for students to work in lab together when imperative. Overall, technology has been both the biggest tool as well as possibly the most challenging obstacle of the fall semester so far. Forcing the use of Zoom and recorded lectures has a silver lining though, says Dr. Dale Cameron. When asked about the advantages of hybrid learning, he and Dr. Kate Goddard were confident in its ability to create a more flexible college experience, from freedom for students to enjoy time with family to allowing professors to attend important conferences, all while participating in class! Certain aspects might just be here to stay.
Regardless of whether online learning is preferable for students and faculty, a return to campus would not be possible without it, and the consensus is in: the bears want to back. Every professor listed in-person interaction with their students as their biggest anticipation for the semester.
Indubitably, flexibility will be key looking forward, but spirits are high and the cooperation between students and faculty has never been better!
-by Jordan Ulsh