UTMN Professor put classroom activities online

Education 24 March 2020
On-campus studies switched to online classes open up new opportunities: UTMN teachers have created a secure network for communication. A new educational platform is also being tested - Microsoft Teams

Professors shared their firsthand experience, covering the topics of how teaching online varies between different institutes, whether it is possible to conduct laboratory workshops remotely and whether distance learning is the education of the future. 

Dmitry Kyrov, Professor of Bioenergy, Institute of Biology: 

“Recently I held a seminar on Biomembranes and Transport using the conference format of the Zoom platform. All of the group, thirteen students, were able to attend using their laptops or smartphones. The class went according to the schedule, lasting three hours with a break in between. Students showed presentations, asked and answered questions and the main discussions happened through the chat. 

This week I’m also planning to conduct a webinar and give a lecture. Nevertheless, I find my training at the Institute of Continuing Education helps me greatly in the current situation”. 

Alexey Pavlovsky, Deputy Director for Science, Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities: 

“For a very long time I have been thinking about what future education will be like. And I concluded that it will be done in the distance learning format. 

To my mind, education of the future will include a consortium system, where universities around the world would have a general agreement to share and transfer credits, and therefore a student could choose a teacher and a course in any university under this program. And of course, the best options would be offered to the best students. 

But how is it relevant to our situation? As of today we have an opportunity to see into the future, to test out this system, see its problems and to think about the solutions... "

Alexander Kertman, professor at the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, teaches Inorganic Chemistry course, Institute of Chemistry:

"Of course, distance learning will not replace laboratory workshops, however, the learning process doesn’t stop. At the beginning of the week, students do the required reading and write down all the necessary reaction equations for each laboratory experiment. I set current deadlines and accept the task to be completed within that timeframe. Grades for the tasks constitute the grades for attendance and laboratory work, which I evaluate according to Recommendations. 

The classes are being held according to the schedule, where individual work with students is carried out: they are given individual tasks that fit with their coarse work, which they then carry out and get graded. The tasks they are presented require a current amount of imagination, there is no direct answer to be found in the textbooks or the Internet. To find a solution students are encouraged to show their knowledge of the topic as a whole. 

As a result, students receive the same knowledge and perform the same tasks as if they were in the classroom setting or a laboratory, with the only exception of performing laboratory experiments".  

Sergey Artemenko, assistant professor of Ecology and Genetics, teaches Heredity and Environment, Fundamentals of Environmental Monitoring courses, Institute of Biology: 

“In terms of distance format, biology is somewhat similar to medicine: some things cannot be taught using the distance learning format. Laboratory workshops, being a third or even half of the biologists' training course, are impossible without attending the classes and training to work in the laboratory directly. In this regard, the teachers postponed the laboratory works and build classes around theoretical work and analysis. Many disciplines have online resources. So, teachers of the Institute of Biology have recorded and successfully implemented a unique course on Environmental Parasitology (see O. N. Zhigileva), which the 4-year Bioecology students are currently undergoing. 

In the framework of the Heredity and Environment elective, I developed a special task for the students to do remotely: analyze the coronavirus genetic code. Analyzing the information available, students were able to find samples of the genetic code of the coronavirus found in people from different countries. By using a special program they were able to align the code and compare across their samples. Thus, each individual was able to locate and analyze the mutations of SARS-CoV-2 present in different countries, as well as to identify which mutations and in which sections of viral RNA occur. 
During the Fundamentals of Environmental Monitoring course, 4-year biology students learned to make interactive maps. So, for example, students were asked to identify places where plants and animals from the Red Book of the Tyumen Region can be found. 

In addition to our teaching duties, teachers keep in touch with students through social networks, share any updates about the current situation, and remind of the prevention measures. We also exchange information about contests, grants, online courses or simply important news in the world of biology”. 

Source: UTMN Department of Strategic Communications

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