The University of Connecticut’s one-credit course created in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic prompted 4,222 students to enroll, resulting in it becoming the largest class in UConn history.
The course, entitled “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Impacts on Health, Business, and Society,” will be taught in three modules, touching on different effects the virus has had on different parts of society, according to a UConn Today article. The class began coursework April 17 and will run through May 1.
UConn is currently offering undergraduate students a one-credit online course studying the #COVID19 pandemic, and it has reached an enrollment of over 4,000 – easily the largest in school history.https://t.co/hbsEY9yLx3
— UConn (@UConn) April 15, 2020
“The curriculum is comprised of multiple disciplinary perspectives on the underlying concepts and impacts of pandemics, using COVID-19 as a case study to illustrate key concepts,” Peter Diplock, assistant vice provost for the Center in Excellence and Learning, said. “These include allied health, public health, psychology, nursing, pharmacy, public policy, management, business law, finance, pathobiology and veterinary science.
When asked what it is like to teach a course this size, Diplock discussed the value of developing a sense of “virtual” community among the students in the course, albeit the large size of the course makes this personal approach a challenge for course facilitators.
“Teaching a course this size presents some unique challenges. The first discussion post in the class asked students to introduce themselves and share how COVID-19 was impacting them,” Diplock said. “We felt that providing students with an early opportunity to come together and share their experiences would be a powerful way to create a sense of virtual community.”
Please join President Katsouleas and the Office of the Vice President for Research for a virtual informational session for @UConn and @uconnhealth researchers Monday, April 20 at 11am EST.https://t.co/NRap34Hi3U pic.twitter.com/TQhWPZ4VV5
— UConn Research (@UConnResearch) April 16, 2020
Diplock, being a facilitator for the course, also noted the importance and challenge of keeping the class highly structured.
“The course is designed to be highly structured with end-of-unit self-knowledge quizzes (ungraded) and end-of-week module graded quizzes,” Diplock said in an email. “There are also module discussion boards and despite the class being so large, individual faculty were able to effectively address all student discussion posts.”
Diplock addressed technological or enrollment issues as a challenge for moderators in a course this size, as well as the difficulty of trying to address the large number of problems students may face.
“As a moderator, one of the challenges is dealing with the inevitable student enrollment issues. Students who enrolled in the course but who subsequently decide to drop. Students who have technology related issues or course related questions,” Diplock said. “In a class of 200, that might be 5-10. In a class of 4,000 that equates to 100-200, that’s a lot of students to respond to in a timely fashion.”
The course was open for registration from April 6 through April 10 for undergraduates. According to the link for self-enrollment for the course, located on the HuskyCT institution page, enrollment for undergraduate students is officially closed, but the course will be offered again this summer.
When asked if the course will be offered again in the fall, Diplock noted that if it was, it would require some changes to curriculum.
“Our plans are to offer the course again this summer. Although given what has happened even in just the last five weeks, some areas of the course will need adjustment. Similarly a fall offering of this course would require adjustments and the consideration of including perspectives not contained in the present course,” Diplock said. “One thing we know for certain…things will change from now until then.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of Eric Wang / The Daily Campus.
Amanda Kilyk is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.