Tools students can use
With the majority of students learning remotely, Dr. Bruce Quinton has been doing what he can to ensure his students have the tools they need to excel.
The associate professor in the Department of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, refers to the concepts he’s teaching as “tools in a toolbox.”
“I find students respond well and are interested in and motivated to learn the course material when they understand why it is relevant to their lives, their plans and their future career,” said Dr. Quinton. “I say things like, ‘If you plan to … then this tool will help you,’ and each tool is only good for certain things.”
This past spring, he was instrumental in implementing Remote LabNet, an application that enables students to remotely access university computer labs in order to use the software they contain to complete their training.
Access was a concern since much of the specialized software used in the engineering programs is extremely expensive and not available for home use by students.
“The faculty’s Engineering Computing Services came up with a solution that required support from the Faculty of Science’s Department of Computer Science and the university’s Information Technology Services and the Office of the Chief Information Officer,” said Dr. Quinton.
“I pulled together a university-wide working group and we worked diligently through April and May. Remote LabNet was thoroughly vetted and launched in June for engineering students enrolled in the spring semester.”
Dr. Quinton communicates to his students through email, online chat rooms and anonymous surveys.
But while the personal dynamic is very important when teaching, he says spontaneous discussions are hard to foster in a remote learning environment.
He encourages his students to attend live lectures as much as possible.
“If used responsibly, recorded lectures can be a great asset to students,” he said. “But, attending live lectures (remotely), will always be better than watching a recorded lecture. In live lectures, students have access to the professor or teaching assistant and won’t miss potentially important information since the ‘skip ahead’ function isn’t available.”