How Remote Learning Has Given Me New Tools

On March 6th, I flew back home to Seattle for a long awaiting family event. It was then that I found out that I wouldn’t be flying back to Berkeley because I had a fever and was directed into quarantine. That following Tuesday all classes went remote. As one would imagine, this quick adjustment caused chaos in the university and the rest of the world. However, Berkeley’s adjustment brought new aspects to my education that I wouldn’t get in my normal curriculum.

My biology lab class had the most drastic change. How are we supposed to engage in biological experiments and discoveries without being in a live setting? The Biology 1B faculty worked hard to figure out how to incorporate technology without losing the fundamental techniques and takeaways from our labs. This has led to the incorporation of coding and Jupyter notebook. As a biology and math major, coding is not something that is emphasized in my curriculum despite it being a very useful skill in those career fields.

In our first lab with coding, we first collected data about river samples and analyzed that data from a biometric standpoint. This included looking at different organisms: how do different characteristics and frequency dictate the health of an aquatic environment? We compared this data versus collection samples from another location of the river. After that, we were able to incorporate coding and data analysis. We were introduced to Jupyter notebook, which is a learning tool used to incorporate guided instructions or projects in coding. Using this platform, we were able to code our own programs to compare our data to the class data. This was more practical than trying to manually calculate values for over 100 different samples while also comparing the locations of the samples. We used this platform a few more times in the following weeks. It was a really nice introduction to a skill that can seem daunting to non – computer science majors.

My education class has also taken a shift in direction and material. As part of my Education 131AC class, we are responsible for teaching with two other people for a whole hour on a topic in the class at one point in the semester. Since the move to remote learning, not only am I learning differently, but I also have to teach through different modes. In the process of creating lessons, we find ourselves using new resources and trying new strategies. While we are doing this out of necessity, it also is part of important pedagogies in education. We are looking more into complex instruction and multimodal forms of teaching. We are incorporating new online teaching platforms, different ways to demonstrate information, live diagrams, and more. In many ways, these are techniques that can be incorporated into traditional teaching and create a dynamic classroom. So I guess, maybe quarantine isn’t the worst.

Author: Sasha Nikitinska

Hello! I am a second year from Seattle, Washington studying Applied Math and Molecular Cell Biology Double Major, as well as a Calteach Education Minor. In addition to being a campus ambassador, I've also published a few research articles in various medical journals on campus and participate heavily in Berkeley Optometry.