Teaching during a Pandemic, Breaking Classroom Physics, and Seeking Learning Equity
The impact of social distancing and mask wearing on classroom audio has become arguably the main challenge in the COVID-19 classroom, especially in larger/older spaces. Moving courses into spaces not designed for classroom interaction has involved “breaking physics.” Edtech teams have endeavored to make classrooms out of large spaces (theaters and dining halls), where sound disperses into the void, along with bare spaces (museums), where mics amplify within the room. Architecturally notable buildings from the 19th century were not intended for HyFlex seminar discussions! Challenges for audio entail not only enabling everyone in a space to hear one another but also allowing remote students to understand instructor and student voices in the space. The importance of classroom audio challenges extends beyond the physical by impacting issues of accessibility and, more broadly, inclusion/equity for remote students. After a brief overview of shared challenges and some solutions for transforming spaces into functional classrooms, we will launch a discussion on aiming for an inclusive and equitable learning experience regardless of location. ELI is a timely opportunity for fruitful cross-institutional collaboration on the broader implications of applying lessons learned for fall for what may become standard classroom design practices—providing greater equity—in a post-COVID era. Viewing slides at http://tiny.cc/eli21jonesperrysendelbach beforehand will facilitate a higher-level discussion.