UNC students will switch out classrooms and commutes for laptops and video lectures on Monday as the University begins its first week of remote classes, designed to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Professors, like students, are adjusting to the unexpected switch that has affected schools across the country.
For Lorraine Cramer, an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, the situation is “timely" — her 200-student lecture, MCRO 251: Introductory Medical Microbiology has been using the coronavirus as a teaching tool all semester, and will continue doing so.
Cramer said her course will not change as much as some, because she already records and uploads her lectures online. But she’s now offering her students the option to start homework assignments early, in addition to providing learning objectives to keep them on track.
Cramer said she believes in accepting the new normal. She said she's trying to maintain the course with as few changes as possible, and urges students to do the same with their study habits.
Creating an at-home space for school work can help, she said.
“It’s important to get back to having the normal educational environment. So we think that everybody should find a place they can study in their house. It might be hard to do... but I think that establishing a study area where you can go and study and kind of be back in a school situation, I think is important,” Cramer said.
Duane Deardorff, the director of undergraduate laboratories and an associate teaching professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, emphasized the importance of not feeling isolated while social distancing and learning at home. While he believes practicing physical isolation is necessary, he said that doesn’t require a total shutoff from loved ones.
“This is a difficult time for all of us, and while social distancing is the new norm, it should probably be called 'physical distancing' since it is important for everyone to still stay connected socially," Deardorff said. "We all need support from friends and family members, so remember to physically isolate, but don’t socially isolate.”