BGSU construction management hammers home lab project by adapting to online learning

Lisa Schaller hosts weekly livestreams on Facebook from inside her barn

Lisa Schaller hosts weekly livestreams on Facebook from inside her barn

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By Meredith Troxel

Bowling Green State University faculty are having to find new engaging ways to teach their students during the remote learning period, including courses with a lab component.

Lisa Schaller, adjunct faculty in construction management  in the School of the Built Environment, has found an effective way to continue her CONS 2350 lab.

Schaller hosts weekly livestreams on Facebook from inside her barn. It was important for her to continue teaching in a lab-based environment, while also having all the necessary equipment.

CONS 2350 combines a lecture and a lab, which is a very important aspect in retaining information taught in the lecture. Students in the course learn the basics of materials, methods, sustainability and basic management practices within the construction and technical industries. They also complete a community service-learning project, which was in collaboration with Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Whitehouse, Ohio.

The announcement of courses moving to online for the rest of the semester forced many faculty to think outside the box on how to effectively finish teaching the course without completely reorganizing their syllabi. Schaller reached out to fellow colleagues and joined Facebook groups that were formed for educators to assist each other during remote learning.

“Life changes quickly and we must find a way to adapt quickly, so as to not let life run you over or not let our students fall behind,” Schaller said.

 “Being in the military for four years has taught me that everything changes and adaptability is the core of life. Life will continue and we must continue and find a way. Failing or saying no is not an option.”

Schaller found that the best way to engage her students was to continue the lab, but to livestream her completing the work for the students to observe and follow. During face-to-face courses, she was able to observe how each of her students retained information and adapted for remote learning so that all students are still able to effectively learn.

A required lab fee for the course was utilized to buy materials, including lumber. This semester, their lumber will be used to complete the community service project. Schaller assisted Nature’s Nursery with a construction project and Allison Schroeder, director of the rehabilitation center, mentioned to Schaller that they needed help building nesting boxes.

Before COVID-19, the students were to help build the nesting boxes during their lab. Now, Schaller will be using the leftover lumber from the lab fee to build them in her barn and finish donating them to Nature’s Nursery.

“Nature’s Nursery takes in over 3,000 wild animals every year. Many of the animals are orphaned babies,” Schroeder said. “The nest boxes are used in the outdoor cages where the babies are transitioned to in order to get acclimated to the wild before being fully released. These boxes are essential to their habitat in the outdoor enclosure.”

Schaller receives input via virtual weekly meetings with small groups of two to five students to make sure they understand the material and for feedback on her livestream.

“My students have said that this is one of the better formats they have found in their subjects and they feel connected, active and engaged in their continued learning process,” Schaller said.

A recording on one of Schaller’s lectures can be found on BGSU’s College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering Facebook page.