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Saturday March 25th

UNC professors adjust course projects to work virtually

Students and Alumni gather at Polk Place on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.
Buy Photos Students and Alumni gather at Polk Place on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.

In a remote semester, students are dealing with a changed class experience — and course projects are no exception. 

As UNC's fall semester continues remotely, students and faculty have had to adapt to work around projects that typically require in-person attention.

MEJO 121: Introduction to Digital Storytelling professor Justin Kavlie said that as long as his students are staying safe, they are free to work on their video projects as they were at the beginning of the semester.

“Moving everything online, basically what ended up happening — and it ended up happening to a fair amount of students — is that they had to adjust their story ideas to fit what they could or could not complete,” Kavlie said.

For MEJO 121 and first-year student Isaiah Dickerson, this meant presenting a story centered around the people immediately around him.

“The story I’m doing is on a local barbecue, so I went over and drove to the barbecue, and I interviewed one of the owners in person,” Dickerson said. “I personally know him, and I’ve spent a lot of time with him.”

Dickerson said that when shooting footage in more public spaces, such as the apple orchard where the barbecue is located, he wore a mask and made sure to distance himself six feet apart from the people around him.

Kavlie said that even though students are still able to work on their projects, the class experience is not the same as before.

“To be completely honest, I don’t think there is any way to say that it’s going to be exactly the same,” Kavlie said. “But we do our best to supplement and get across what they need out of the course.”

Classes that require the use of UNC facilities have undergone more drastic changes.

Soham Nanavati, a sophomore statistics and quantitative biology major, said his lab, Chemistry 241L: Laboratory in Separations and Analytical Characterization of Organic and Biological Compounds, has been entirely remote. 

“It’s a three-part thing,” Nanavati said. “We have a pre-lab, an in-lab and a post-lab assignment.” 

Nanavati said that he and his classmates complete the pre and post-lab assignments individually. The in-lab assignment, which would normally be completed by students physically in one of UNC’s laboratories, has been altered drastically.

“In-lab usually consists of us attending at our respective time and going through a slide of presentation prepared by either the TA or Dr. Motley,” Nanavati said. “After that, we just have to watch a very long video, which is prepared by Dr. Motley. It’s him taking us through the entire experiment.”

Nanavati, despite missing out on the experiential education of working in the lab, is still learning the course content with the online format. 

"It may not translate completely, but something is better than nothing," he said.

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