When learning moved digital at Wake Forest, professor Megan Regan revised her syllabus to focus on a living case study of the coronavirus. Most of the assigned readings “went in the dumpster fire,” she said, as current events aligned with the broader topics she planned to teach.
At the start of spring semester, her senior seminar in global trade and commerce focused on how international communities responded to a devastating viral outbreak in sub-Saharan African countries. Covid-19 was ramping up in China, and the assignment was to compare coronavirus to Ebola.
“In January, students weren’t concerned about Covid-19. It was happening on the other side of the world,” said Regan. “It wasn’t long before that changed. As this crisis unfolds, we are watching in real-time how interest rate cuts and increasing unemployment numbers have affected us globally, nationally, locally, and in our individual lives.”
Regan says the change in the class approach has also affirmed the shock students have been experiencing.
“I redesigned my courses to teach new lessons about the world we live in and the fragility of human-built systems,” Regan said. “Students are stressed. Laptops break. Internet connections fail. Some students live in different time zones. It has been my priority to acknowledge and address these disruptions and constraints.”
Regan said learning in the coronavirus pandemic has meant that most decisions about what and how to teach her classes are more like on-field audibles than tried and tested strategies from a playbook.