The move to online learning in response to COVID-19 brought both challenges and opportunities. An off-campus, flipped section of ANTR 350 has been offered in Grand Rapids during the summer since 2017. When Michigan State University moved to online learning for summer 2020, the class was adapted to a Zoom-based, synchronous model. Students were required to complete online learning modules as preparation for each class. During class, students worked in small groups to complete application activities in Zoom breakout rooms.
Groups were assigned and reconfigured for each unit. The instructor provided recommendations for working effectively in a group and students received feedback after the first and third units regarding their teamwork skills and class performance. Unit exams were two-stage examinations, consisting of an individual exam followed immediately by a group exam. These examinations were timed and proctored over Zoom by faculty and staff.
Students and faculty faced many technological, health, and personal challenges during the semester. However, students demonstrated tremendous resilience and flexibility. Overall, the course was a very positive experience; student performance and SIRS ratings were higher than during previous iterations of the course. The instructor observed improved group work skills, which was mirrored by student feedback. Overall, we were able to retain the flipped approach and emphasis on group work by using Zoom breakout rooms to simulate a collaborative learning environment comparable to that of the in-person experience.