The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced Austin Community College (ACC) faculty to adapt their classrooms, labs, and simulations to a virtual environment. We are sharing the innovative ways our faculty are taking hands-on learning online.
In the May Fac/Staff Digest, we explore how Dusty Mills, Automotive Technology associate professor, brought the garage to life remotely.
"I thought it'd be a pretty big challenge," says Mills. "It's new to me. We're not experts at it, but the whole department started pulling together to make it happen. I think that part's been one of the biggest deals out of this — as a team, we're sharing and talking and working together on these things. We've kind of had silos up until now."
Mills used his computer, an extra monitor, laptop, and cell phone cameras set up in his home garage to record his automotive electronics class.
"The school gave us all the Adobe stuff. They've given us access to the programs we needed," says Mills. "Then it came down to creating each video. They took about 24-36 hours of work apiece."
Mills had two of the department's training vehicles towed to his house to tape demonstrations for students. He recruited his wife — who studied mass communications — to help with the filming.
To provide students an opportunity to interact — Mills broadcast live classes where he could ask students what they think he should do next to guide him through the process.
"We're very much a hands-on, in-your-face, show-you-right-then-and-there kind of department, so remote instruction is not ideal, but it keeps students from checking out and keeps them progressing to the next semester."
Most courses will remain online through the summer semester. Those that require a significant hands-on component that cannot be converted to online may begin after July 6. For more information about the college's response to COVID, visit austincc.edu/coronavirus.