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Faculty, Students Innovate in the Virtual World of COVID-19

Published on April 23, 2020

Faculty, Students Innovate in the Virtual World of COVID-19

Professor Dancik and students

The photo above of Computer Science Professor Garrett Dancik and his students is common place in the normal life of Eastern Connecticut State University. Today, we must look at it with whimsy as faculty and students at Eastern Connecticut State University began teaching and studying remotely on March 23 via Webex, Office365 Teams and other technology platforms. Although the experience has not been without growing pains, faculty ingenuity and students’ determination to succeed and grow have resulted in an unparalleled learning opportunity. 

History Professor Thomas Balcerski created a channel on Microsoft Stream to showcase students' final projects enrolled in his "American Elections" (HIS 400) senior seminar. The projects are a mix of live-video recordings and PowerPoint presentations and can be viewed at

artwork Students in the "Graphic Design History" class created digital artwork to spread awareness about how to stay safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The posters are available on Eastern’s Art Gallery website at

Dance students are participating in live video conferencing with professional dance artists and also engaging in Jacobs Pillow Interactive, a website with a variety of genres of dance videos, chat rooms and dance essays to access. They are also working with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company All Access platform, which is offering live performances and dance technique classes.

Michele Bacholle
Professor Michele Bacholle

Michele Bacholle’s "French Cinema" class met on April 13 to discuss Emmanuel Carrere’s film “The Mustache,” where the simple premise of shaving one’s mustache opens up a realm of interpretations. Is the man having a mental breakdown given that his wife doesn’t notice the mustache is gone? Is this part of a massive plot against him led by the wife?  Professor Bacholle drew a mustache on her face, which her students failed to notice — making her feel like the character! She also shared a Kahoot game with her about famous mustaches and posted it on the “French at Eastern” Facebook pages. Voila! 

Business Administration Professor Fatma Pakdil explains, “I have been using a combination of Blackboard, Webex online class meetings, and WebEx-recorded classes for my regular courses. This system is effective and efficient for my students. I conducted a short survey at the end of the first week of online classes to receive feedback from them. The fact that we were already using BB very efficiently since we started the semester was a big contributing factor during this transition for my students.”

Ross Koning
Professor Ross Koning

Biology Professor Ross Koning notes, “I purchased a microscope adapter for my cell phone, so I could share what I was seeing in the microscope with the students. My voice went via the cell phone to the class participants as I described the treatments I was giving to the organisms in the microscope view. The students could directly observe the organism’s behavior or response to the treatments. I have been pleased at the student attendance at the lecture and lab meetings. The students are responding to questions, asking their own, interacting with each other, embracing the “gotchas” of our technology and being flexible with adversity.” 

Ear saver
Professor Greg Kane made "ear savers" with Eastern's 3D printer for Windham Hospital.

Greg Kane, chair of the Kinesiology and Physical Education, took time from his schedule to create “ear savers” in our 3-D printing lab, recently delivering more than 100 of them to Windham Hospital. 

Health Sciences Professor Anita Lee’s classes are meeting in real time through Webex. “Students appreciate real-time classes when they can see each other, perform oral presentations and discussions, and receive feedback from their fellow classmates and me immediately. I can also see how they are doing at home and what kind of support they may need. Thanks to our ITS colleagues, we can still use statistical apps (SPSS) through the VPN. Students are also very creative in their presentations, using Kahoot to check their classmates’ attention and knowledge after their presentations. Nothing can stop our learning at Eastern!”

PlatypusHistory Professor Bradley Davis is using the online work feature of MS Teams for his senior seminar, “Animal Histories of the Asia-Pacific.” Students are pursuing research on horses in Mughal and British India, the cultural history of the platypus, competitive cricket fighting in China and seal hunting in Japan.

As an extra credit assignment, students in Professor Anna Kirchmann’s “Recent American History” will reflect on their experiences during COVID-19 in the form of a journal entry. They will consider how they are affected personally and as students, and what impact the pandemic has had on their family, friends, communities and the entire country. They will also think about the significance of this experience within the larger historical context, focusing especially on the point of view of the young generation.  At the end of the semester Dr. Kirchmann will compile the entries, remove identifiers, and deposit this unique primary source in the University archives to document an unprecedented historical moment for posterity. 

ASCAnd then there is this story from the Academic Success Center: “I was able to help a friend of mine yesterday who is an incoming freshman. She knew I work for the ASC, so she contacted me with all kinds of questions about registration and LAC requirements. Since everything is online, she was experiencing some anxiety about possibly not being prepared when the time comes. I spent about a half hour chatting with her about the First Year Program, how her dual college credits will transfer, and about the Liberal Arts Core and major requirements she’ll need to meet, as well as general stuff like parking permits and how to find course descriptions. She wasn’t aware of a lot of the tools at her disposal (like transfer equivalencies and degree evaluations), so she was really appreciative; I would like to think I was a big help!”

An intern reads stories to elementary schoolchildren from home.

Jake Kubisek uses a dual monitor at home for graphic design.

EES instructor Lynn Ann DeLima uses Panopto for her lectures.